Rock Hill School Board dodges threat of $1M+ lawsuit

Posted March 31, 2014 10:42 pm | Filed under Featured, Local News

 butch_bowersAndrew Kiel |
Rock Hill School District Three may be very well saving itself from a costly lawsuit. Board members Monday night held a public comment session on a series of redrawn school board district seats — district lines that were, until now, based on census data last gathered in 1990.

By law, counties and cities are required to regularly review their district lines and adjust, if necessary.

But school districts are exempt from that requirement, said Butch Bowers, director of the office of research for the State Budget and Control Board.

Bowers and his team have developed new board member districts using the latest census data available, last collected in 2010.

Two of the five districts will shrink, while another will grow; lines for two other district will change but their sizes will remain the same.

Board chairman Jim Vining said the district’s move to single-member districts in 2000 created a unique situation: the districts had to be drawn using the most recent census data.

That data, from 1990, was used for the new districts and will remain in effect until S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley signs into law a bill officially redistricting the board.

Bowers said if the redistricting had not taken place, the Rock Hill School Board could have been liable for damages and attorney’s fees if it were named in a lawsuit challenging the legality of the lines.

State Rep. Ralph Norman of Rock Hill said that he has been approached by an out-of-state firm seeking an in-state group to align with and sue the district.

“They had a copy of the contract in hand,” Norman told the school board Monday night. The contract, had it been approved by any local group, would have set the stage for a lawsuit that could cost the district between $1.2 and 1.8 million, Bowers said.