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Orangeburg County School Board names new interim leader; veteran Greenwood superintendent to serve for year
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Orangeburg County School Board

Orangeburg County School Board names new interim leader; veteran Greenwood superintendent to serve for year

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Greenwood School District 50 Superintendent Dr. Darrell Johnson will lead the new Orangeburg County School District over the next year.

Johnson will begin in his new role as interim superintendent on or before July 1. Johnson will hold the position until June 30, 2020.

The Orangeburg County School Board unanimously agreed to hire Johnson on Tuesday following a 1-1/2 hour executive session.

The terms of his contract, including how much Johnson will get paid, were not discussed in open session. Board Chair Peggy James-Tyler said Wednesday that the contract is in the process of being finalized and that more details will be provided Thursday.

Johnson has 32 years of experience in education. He has served as the Greenwood School District 50 superintendent for the past 13 years.

He planned to retire June 30, but chose to accept the Orangeburg County position. He has recently been on medical leave while recovering from shoulder surgery.

Johnson could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

A native of Clover, Johnson attended Winthrop University where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in English, becoming the first African American male to major in English at the university.

Johnson began his professional career as a reporter for The Herald newspaper in Rock Hill.

While working as a school custodian and substitute teacher, he returned to Winthrop in the mid-1980s and obtained his master's degree in education. Johnson earned his doctorate in educational leadership from South Carolina State University.

Johnson began teaching language arts in secondary schools before becoming principal of Rock Hill Elementary School. He later served as director of student services and assistant superintendent for the Rock Hill School District.

In May 2006, he was named superintendent of the Greenwood district where he oversaw eight elementary schools, three middle schools, two high schools, a technology center and an adult education center.

During his tenure as superintendent, he oversaw a $200 million building program which included the construction of three elementary schools, a middle school and a high school gymnasium. Several choice and magnet options were created.

Johnson was named the Career/Technology Division's State Superintendent of the Year in 2017 and has also served as president of the South Carolina Association of School Administrators Superintendents division.

Trustees and those in attendance at Tuesday’s board meeting gave current interim superintendent Dr. Zona Jefferson a round of applause to show their appreciation for her service.

Jefferson, a retired school superintendent, was hired as interim superintendent in January. She announced earlier this month that she is leaving, noting that she took the job as a short-term position.

"Dr. Jefferson began her term with only one other staff person and has met our objectives of providing appropriate staffing for the new district, preparing a budget and offering guidance to the board on the structuring of the district," James-Tyler said in a prepared statement.

James-Tyler expressed her sadness at seeing Jefferson leave but said she is, “excited that Dr. Johnson has decided to delay his retirement to assist the district in its inaugural year.”

Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.

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