Charleston County School District | CP file photo

The Charleston County School District (CCSD) Board of Trustees on May 30 announced it will pursue a contract with Wisconsin educator Eric Gallien, 53, to serve as the district’s next superintendent after a months-long nationwide search. 

Gallien’s selection follows a visit last week as well as a controversy in which two other candidates dropped out when their names were released prematurely on social media. Gallien, said to be considered the top candidate all along, toured local schools, spoke with administrators and held a meet-and-greet with community members, families and school staff. 

“As the second largest school district in South Carolina, Charleston County School District recognizes the crucial importance of selecting a superintendent who can drive positive change, create a culture of collaboration with diverse stakeholders, instill trust, and enhance the overall educational experience for all students,” the CCSD board said in the press release.

The selection process led by search firm BWP & Associates had 44 applicants from across the country. Seven were recommended to the board, and from those, three were selected as top candidates. Gallien emerged as the leading candidate, according to the press release, impressing the board with “his experience, vision and innovative approach to education.”

“I’m excited about this next step in the selection process and honored to be the candidate of choice to lead CCSD forward,” Gallien said in the press release. “I strongly believe in my ability to bring impactful, positive change to the students, families and educators of CCSD and look forward to getting to work.”

Contract negotiations reportedly are ongoing. Additional details regarding the transition of leadership from sitting superintendent Don Kennedy to Gallien will be provided once terms are set.

Gallien enlisted in the U.S. Marines after graduating high school, serving from 1987-1995 and seeing combat during Desert Storm. He received an honorable discharge and began volunteering in a school in his hometown of Milwaukee. 

He soon after began his educational career as an educational assistant, and later became a classroom teacher. He then served as a principal at the elementary, middle and high school levels and eventually rose to district management, serving as the regional director of school support in Milwaukee Public Schools, the largest school district in Wisconsin. It serves more than 75,000 students — compared to CCSD, the second-largest school district in South Carolina which serves about 50,000 students.

“Dr. Gallien has over two decades of successful educational leadership leading large school districts and has a demonstrated history of improving student outcomes through thoughtful and data-driven decision-making,” CCSD Board Chair Pam McKinney said in a statement. “The board is confident we have chosen a high-caliber administrator to lead our district forward and we thank everyone who has provided input and feedback throughout this important process.”

Gallien holds an undergraduate degree in history education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, two master’s degrees from Alverno College, one in curriculum and instruction and another in educational leadership, as well as a doctorate in educational leadership and policy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

This is a developing story. Follow Charleston City Paper for more information as it becomes available.

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