Newly Elected Conservative School Board Fires Superintendent, Bans Critical Race Theory

By Jackson Elliott
Jackson Elliott
Jackson Elliott
Jackson Elliott reports on family-related issues and small-town America for The Epoch Times. His current focus centers around parental rights in education, as well as the impact of progressive ideology in curricula and transgenderism in youth. He can be reached at:
November 23, 2022Updated: November 30, 2022

In one meeting, Deon Jackson went from being South Carolina’s Berkeley County school superintendent to being unemployed.

His firing came at the hand of a newly elected school board, which appears to have declared a judgment day for “woke” practices in its district.

In its first meeting after the Nov. 8 election, the board fired Jackson and school counsel Tiffany Richardson. Then it hired Anthony Dixon as superintendent and retained Brandon Gaskins as counsel. And before the day was over, the board banned teaching critical race theory and created a board to review library books for pornographic content.

Moms for Liberty, an activist group that supports parental rights in education, endorsed six of the board’s nine members. Many Moms for Liberty candidates won school board elections this November, as reported previously. The group’s leaders say that more aggressive school management decisions may soon be in order.

In Berkeley, the candidates’ aggressive approach was a response to student discipline policies and slow learning post-COVID-19, according to Christi Dixon, the Moms for Liberty chapter chair for Berkeley.

“Parents were seeing that their children weren’t achieving at the levels that they had been previously. And there were a lot of changes,” Dixon said.

Epoch Times Photo
Newly elected Berkeley County, S.C., school board members run their first meeting on Nov. 15, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Christy Dixon)

Fire and Firings

When Jackson left the board meeting after being fired, it appeared that not everyone supported the board’s decision.

Epoch Times Photo
Christy Dixon, the Moms for Liberty chapter chair for Berkeley County, S.C. (Photo courtesy of Christy Dixon)

Some parents watching walked out with him in protest, video from local network Live 5 WCSC News shows. Others cheered.

Former school board Chair David Barrow called the firings a “travesty” and a “political witch hunt,” according to NBC.

The board has yet to explain its rationale for firing Jackson and Richardson.

Board members Yvonne Bradley and Crystal Wigfall walked out of the room in protest after Jackson departed.

Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice said the board might be newly elected but that it knows exactly what it’s doing.

“These are people that have watched the former board. They interacted and watched the former superintendent. They have watched and interacted with the staff attorney,” Justice said. “The newly elected school board members have been keeping a list and checking it twice.”

According to Dixon, Jackson changed school discipline policies in ways that caused problems and usurped parental authority.

Schools under his authority told parents that school staff should be able to discipline students for behavior outside the school, she said.

“The example that they gave was that if a child and another student in their neighborhood got into some type of disagreement and it was going to spill over into the school environment, then they should be able to insert themselves into that situation,” Dixon said.

Jackson also supported “restorative practices,” she said.

According to the University of Florida, a “restorative” school justice system replaces suspensions and detentions with “restorative meeting circles” where offenders and victims practice “restitution planning.”

The previous school board wanted to spend $1 million to hire five district-level administrators, Dixon said.

“We don’t have teachers’ aides. Could that money not be better served to get down into the schools and into the classrooms to help the teacher than to hire more top-heavy district-level administrators?” she asked.

Additionally, the school district’s library included the book “Looking for Alaska,” which has sexually graphic language, Dixon said.

She noted that she didn’t know exactly why the board moved so fast to fire Jackson and Richardson but that she trusted that they had good reason.

Epoch Times Photo
Parents concerned about critical race theory took home these buttons from a school board activist training on Jan. 19, 2022, in Sarasota, Fla. (Courtesy of Alexis Spiegelman)

“I’m not a board member, and they have protected information that they can’t share,” Dixon said. “I just have to trust that they made the best decision with the information that only they had.”

National Implications

Justice said Moms for Liberty and its candidates want to reclaim parental control of education. For many school employees, “Judgment Day” has arrived, she said.

“You’re going to see continued changes being made to the system. Parents are reclaiming public education in America,” she said.

Superintendents across America should expect more changes, Justice said.

“It’s time for school districts and superintendents to remember and understand that they work for the school board, who reports to the constituents of the community,” she said. “Not the other way around.”

Justice said that although she doesn’t know of any other school boards that have fired their superintendents, she expects that boards nationwide will follow Berkeley’s lead.

“Our children don’t have any time to waste. They don’t get time back. Two years of their lives have already been stolen from them by teachers unions and bureaucrats and the Biden administration,” she said.

The Epoch Times contacted Dixon, Jackson, Richardson, the National Education Association, the Department of Education, and the American Federation of Teachers, but received no comment by press time.