Islanders hire lawyer for Sullivan's Island school debate

Sullivan's Island resident attend meeting regarding new school debate

By Valencia

SULLIVAN'S ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) -- Parents, alumni and supporters of a new, bigger Sullivan's Island Elementary school filled town hall Wednesday night. Some had to wait outside because the room was filled to capacity.

The comments came one after the other.

"I'm very in favor of the new school", one parent said.

"I'm really in favor of the new school", said a student.

But, there are two islanders who now have a lawyer involved in their fight against building a bigger school.

"There's been some suggestion that my clients and other people on the island are just interested in delaying the school," said Rutledge Young, the attorney representing the islanders. "In fact, they welcome the school and want the school, but what they want is the best school for Sullivan's Island."

Last year, 15% of voters on Sullivan's Island signed a petition asking for the issue to be put to a vote on the November ballot. That petition was denied by town council.

Now, Young says, under legal statutes, the petition should be taken to public vote.

"Ordinances either have to be passed or they have to be put to a public vote within one year that the town rejects the initial petition, or the 3rd option, which is something that was created by the SC Supreme Court, is that the town has the right to go to court and ask a judge to declare the petition invalid.

To date, Sullivan's Island Town Council has not fulfilled any of those requirements.

"I believe what's happened is that the town of Sullivan's Island, its town council, has decided on its own that the petition is invalid. And, I don't believe they have that authority," Young said.

Young says his clients want to see a new school built, just a smaller school than the one planned.

However, Charleston County School officials say there is no option for a smaller school.

"I made it very clear that when you talk about a school, it wasn't what size school do you want because we can only build schools at an efficiency size that we are building in other areas of the county," said Dr. Nancy McGinley, Charleston County School District superintendent.

Town officials passed a resolution in favor of building a larger school.

They are seeking legal advice on how to respond to the letter for Young.