Thursday, September 20, 2018

Wendell Gilliard calls for Charleston superintendent to investigate "racially divisive" comment allegedly made by staffer's spouse

School district statement calls post "extremely offensive"

Posted by Adam Manno on Thu, Sep 20, 2018 at 4:25 PM

click to enlarge Burke High School - GOOGLE EARTH
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  • Burke High School
When a Burke High School teacher took to Facebook to complain about the lack of air conditioning in some classrooms, she was met with a dismissive reply believed to be from the spouse of a school district spokesperson, prompting one elected official to call for an investigation into the "racially divisive comment."

"I just wanted to shout out to our teachers and students at Burke HS all trying to stay focused & positive through yet another week without AC in most classrooms," wrote Amanda Moreno Duke in the Charleston Area Community Voice for Education Facebook group Tuesday afternoon.

Duke is also listed as a Burke High computer teacher on the school's website.

A user named Andrea Seyfried Pruitt responded by dismissing Duke's concerns as "first world problems" and by invoking images of children in Africa "dodging herds of elephants and lions" to get to school.

Screenshots of the comments were re-posted on Wednesday by local activist Jonathan Thrower, who also goes by the name Shakem Akhet. It appears that Pruitt has since changed her name and photo on the social network.

City Paper has not independently confirmed details of the posts.

Andy Pruitt serves as the director of communication and technology for Charleston County School District. He previously worked as a sportscaster for Live 5 News.

After being made aware of the comments, state Rep. Wendell Gilliard, a Democrat representing Charleston County, called for Charleston Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait to investigate the incident in an open letter sent to media Thursday afternoon.

click to enlarge PHOTO VIA SHAKEM AKHET/FACEBOOK
  • Photo via Shakem Akhet/Facebook
PHOTO VIA SHAKEM AKHET/FACEBOOK
  • Photo via Shakem Akhet/Facebook

"This morning, I learned that the spouse of a member of your office team posted a racially divisive comment via her Facebook account regarding inadequate air conditioning for the students, faculty, and staff at Burke High School," Gilliard wrote.

"Upon investigation, it was confirmed by your office that the individual in question did in fact post the horrible and inexcusable statement," Gilliard continued. "Now, it is imperative that I ask you to fully investigate this matter and take action as necessary to correct this and then work to heal the ill feelings that so many have upon reading that comment online."

CCSD spokesperson Erica Taylor issued a brief statement distancing the district from the original posts Thursday afternoon.

"The District finds the social media post made by someone who is not our employee to be extremely offensive, and it does not represent the views of CCSD," the statement read.

Amanda Duke, the teacher who appears to be responsible for the original post, did not respond to a request for comment.

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