MARLBORO COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Bennettsville Intermediate School has a new principal for 2022-23, the Marlboro County School District announced Monday, the most recent move in a district that has faced controversy for leadership changes this year.

Lawrence Dease will lead the school beginning in the next academic year. He was previously a math teacher, football and basketball coach, and has been an assistant principal at the intermediate school.

The decision comes about a month after Michael Dease was announced as the new principal of Marlboro High School. He replaces Jamane Watson, who was told in February — along with other administrators at the school — that his contract would not be renewed.

Watson said he was told that the district was “looking to go in a different direction.”

The move led to hundreds of student walking out of school in protest. The district responded by claiming that no one was fired.

The district’s school board members also voted Monday night to hire Quinn McCollum as the district’s next athletics director. The board also approved to either pay for or provide housing for interim Superintendent Donald Andrews, which will be retroactive to Jan. 1.

The Marlboro County School district has seen controversy in the past, when recently former Superintendent Gregory McCord resigned after he allowed his fraternity to operate on school property.

McCord admitted that he allowed the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, of which he is a member, to operate on the property of Bennettsville Intermediate School without first speaking to the Marlboro County Board of Education. 

The district was paying the utilities for this building, located behind the actual school building.

A Marlboro County School District board member asked the now-former district superintendent to retract his statement that, according to internal emails, wrongly said he had not violated a board policy for allowing his fraternity to operate a building on district property without conferring with the board.