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Longtime South Carolina Education Professional Joins District Team


Contact: Campbell Mims, Communications and Advocacy Coordinator



Longtime South Carolina Education Professional Joins District Team

COLUMBIA, S.C. (Feb. 24, 2022) – Superintendent Chris Neeley today named John R. Payne, an award-winning advocate for accountability and school improvement in the state, as the Deputy Superintendent of Sponsor Performance at the Public Charter School District.

Payne currently serves as the Deputy State Superintendent for the Division of Federal Programs and Comprehensive Educational Services at the South Carolina Department of Education, which he has held since 2018. Before he was appointed deputy, he served five years as Director of the Office of Special Education Services (OSES) at the department. Payne’s experience extends to administering state-level education programs, including special education, federal programs, accountability, charter school authorization, emergency programming, adult education, assessment, and teacher certification. 

“John is a well-respected educational leader known for his child-centric approach to public education in South Carolina. In my previous experiences working with John, I always found him to be collaborative, passionate, and a wealth of knowledge,” stated Neeley. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to have John join our team of school choice professionals. He will fit in nicely with our culture and aligns well with our mission of putting kids first.”

Superintendent Chris Neeley shakes hands with John R. Payne, incoming deputy superintendent of sponsor performance.

During his tenure at the department, John was instrumental in crucial state initiatives, including the settlement of South Carolina’s IDEA Maintenance of State Financial Support, which protected roughly $80 million in funding; working in conjunction with the General Assembly to create the South Carolina High School Credential, and managing South Carolina’s emergency educational funds provided during the pandemic that have totaled approximately $3.5 billion. He also has worked extensively in the state’s accountability work and has worked closely with charter schools and authorizers in various capacities during his time at the department.

“I’m thrilled to join an organization that emphasizes serving and nurturing students of all ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, and zip codes in South Carolina,” stated Payne. “Through its culture and commitment to school choice, the Public Charter School District is leading the future success of public education in our state. I feel honored to be a part of this movement to expand charter school options for parents who are eager for better educational choices that meet their children where they are and helps them grow to reach their full potential.”

Payne’s extensive leadership experience includes his service on the Council of Chief State School Officers National Assessment Governing Board, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, the South Carolina Brain Injury Leadership Council, and the South Carolina School-Based Mental Health Advisory Board. He is the recipient of the 2017 Commend-Able Award from Able South Carolina and the 2017 Pat Head Advocacy Award from Family Connection South Carolina for his work to support inclusion and advocacy for individuals with disabilities.

As deputy superintendent of sponsor performance, Payne will support the authorization, accountability, compliance, and data needs of the Public Charter School District. He will begin serving more than 17,000 students and 38 schools in this newly created role in April of 2022.

About the South Carolina Public Charter School District: The South Carolina Public Charter School District authorizes, champions, and supports the creation and advancement of innovative K-12 public charter schools in South Carolina. We value all students’ unique talents and abilities and hold high expectations for social, emotional, and academic growth inclusively within the diverse population we serve.