Spokesperson: All 7 board members have personal ties to superintendent

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All seven board members on the Sumter School Board of Trustees have either worked under the current district superintendent or have a spouse currently employed in the district, according to a district office spokesperson who was contacted this week.

The Sumter Item contacted Shelly Galloway, district public information and strategic partnerships coordinator, after an area pastor referenced that five school board members' personal allegiance to Superintendent Frank Baker affects their actions and decisions as board members. The Rev. Marion Newton, senior pastor of Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church in Sumter, said Wednesday that it's difficult for several board members -- including Chairman the Rev. Daryl McGhaney, Linda Alston, Barbara Jackson, Lucille McQuilla and Karen Michalik - to side against Baker "who has done favors for them, naturally."

According to district information, every board member has a connection to the superintendent either through former employment or a spouse's current employment.

Board Chairman McGhaney's wife, Vivian, holds a district staff-level position as special education curriculum coach. Board members Alston, Jackson and McQuilla all worked under Baker in the former Sumter School District 2. According to Galloway, Alston was a social worker at Rafting Creek Elementary School, Jackson was a math coordinator in the District 2 administration's office for Baker, and McQuilla was a principal at Pocalla Springs Elementary School.

Board member Johnny Hilton was a longtime principal in the former Sumter School District 17 prior to consolidation. After the two districts consolidated, he did serve one year under Baker as principal at Millwood Elementary School before retiring.

In addition to McGhaney, two other board members have spouses who currently are employed in the district under Baker. Karen Michalik's husband, John, is the current principal at Lakewood High School. According to district information, the Rev. Ralph Canty's wife, Toye, is a career and technology education teacher at Furman Middle School.