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Schools: Finalists for district safety job shared career path

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The four finalists for the new position of Georgetown County School District safety director were all career law enforcement officers. Two had experience teaching adults. The one who got the job was a magistrate.

Three county residents told the school board this month there was another distinction: the candidate who got the job was white, the one who didn’t was black.

School Superintendent Randy Dozier says the district hired the best person for the position. “It’s always difficult when you have a number of qualified applicants,” he said.

Alan Walters started work this month as director of safety and risk management, responsible for a growing number of school resource officers in schools and at events along with more traditional activities such as fire drills. Walters was the magistrate in charge of the county’s central traffic court for 12 years. He was a police office and county deputy for 17 years before that.

“You failed to hire an African-American male with more qualifications,” Harold Jean Brown, a former school board member, told the current board.

The district released the résumés of the four finalists this week in response to a request under the state Freedom of Information Act. While race isn’t listed, the only African-American among the four was Johnathan Guiles, who lives in the Plantersville area and is an officer in the Conway Police Department. Like Walters, he has also worked for the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office and Georgetown Police Department.

“I really felt there was some bias," Guiles said, but what bothered him most was that he didn’t get word from the district about the hiring decision until after resident’s complained to the board. “I would have felt better if I had been told,” he said.

Guiles said he was told by people within the district he was the candidate recommended by the hiring committee. “I was sort of disappointed” with the outcome, he said, but he doesn’t have any complaints about Walters. “I've known Alan for years. I love Alan,” he said.

The other finalists were Dustin Morris, an investigator with the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office, and Robert Mason, who retired last year as police chief of Randolph Township, N.J. He now lives in Surfside Beach, as does Morris.

Morris said he only learned he was a finalist when the school district notified him it would be releasing his name in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act. “I don’t have a gripe,” he said.

The district advertised the job in October listing the requirements as a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field and at least two years of work experience in a similar field or an equivalent combination of the two. It listed the salary at $44,457.

Doug Jenkins, the district human resources director, said there was no job description because the responsibilities evolved through the hiring process.

The salary for the job is now $72,600, a fact that also drew criticism from speakers at a board meeting because the job of risk manager was held by a woman at the lower amount. Dozier said the new position has additional responsibilities.

The job attracted 25 applicants. “We even had an attorney apply,” Dozier said.

Ten candidates were interviewed. Six were called back and the final four were selected, he said.

In addition to his work in law enforcement and on the bench, Walters taught courses at the National Judicial College at the University of Nevada over two years, taught at an American Bar Association program for traffic court judges and was an adjunct professor of criminal justice at Coastal Carolina University for a term.

Walters has an associate’s degree from Horry-Georgetown Tech, a bachelor’s from Southern Illinois University and a master’s from the University of South Carolina.

Guiles taught basic training to Afghan police for two years under a U.S. Department of Defense program. He helped with the first literacy program for police. He spent another two years as a police trainer in Lebanon, working for a division of Lockheed Martin. In between, he worked for almost 18 months providing security for Benny Hinn, a television evangelist.

Guiles has a bachelor’s degree from S.C. State University. After graduating, his first job was as an assistant director and instructor at Tara Hall Home for Boys, where he worked for seven months. Jim Dumm, the school board chairman, is the director of Tara Hall. He has declined to comment on the criticism of the decision to hire Walters.

Walters was hired in an 8-1 vote by the school board. Arthur Lance, the vice chairman, cast the dissenting vote. He said he couldn’t support Walters, but didn’t offer an explanation.

“I’m still not talking,” he said this week.

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