COLUMBIA -- Gov. Jim Hodges has moved to shape his education agenda, replacing state Education Board Chairman-elect J.D. Martin Jr. with former Upstate legislator Jim Mattos.
Mr. Hodges wrote to Mr. Martin several days ago about the change and on Tuesday sent an executive order to the state Education Department. Mr. Mattos, a Greenville Democrat, took over in the middle of the state school board's monthly committee meetings as its eighth new member during the past 1 1/2 months.
"I am extremely sorry about this," Mr. Martin said. "It has tossed education back into being a political football."
Mr. Martin said he was disappointed the change came halfway through what he thought was a four-year appointment.
"If this happens in other bipartisan slots, it's going to be bad for the entire state," Mr. Martin said.
Mr. Hodges' spokeswoman, Nina Brook, said Mr. Mattos was "a tireless advocate for the kind of (education) issues Jim Hodges is talking about."
Mr. Martin, 55, was appointed to the 17-member board by former Gov. David Beasley in 1996. Two months ago, the board chose Mr. Martin as its chairman-elect, meaning he would have headed the panel during what he thought would be his final year of service in 2000.
Mr. Mattos, a teacher and coach at Berea High School for 28 years, said Mr. Hodges called and asked if he would serve. "I told him I would help in any way I could," Mr. Mattos said.