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Community Not Fully Engaged In CCSD Proposals, New Coalition Introduced To School Board
3/28/2013 12:47:44 PM

Photo credit: Tolbert Smalls Jr.

By Barney Blakeney

Charleston County School Board’s March 25 meeting was inundated with parents hoping a proposal to move middle grade students in rural constituent districts to other schools within their respective districts would be rescinded. They were not disappointed. But also at the meeting a coalition of citizens organized to address common issues at all schools was introduced.

County school board members voted unanimously to rescind the board’s January approval of a proposal to move middle grade students in Constituent Dist. 1 from Lincoln High to St. James-Santee Elementary and sixth grade students in Constituent Dist. 23 from four elementary schools to Baptist Hill High.

But before that happened a call to action went out to parents and constituents across the county asking they attend the March 25 meeting where the Coalition of Citizens for Schools that Work (CCSW) was introduced and presented four major issues of concern to county school board members.

CCSW is a coalition of groups, organizations and individuals whose purpose is to ensure all CCSD students receive the best education possible and have equal access to quality education.

Former CCSD interim superintendent Dr. Barbara Dilligard, a co-ordinator for the coalition, said it has come together because so much is happening to students and at schools which are not in their best interests.

The school district’s administration has not facilitated true community engagement to arrive at decisions about schools and students, she said. While community meetings have been conducted, select individuals and organizations were invited to produce a predetermined outcome. Subsequently county school board members are offered proposals that are not supported with pertinent data or community input.

She cited the decision to develop a total Montessori program at James Simons Elementary School when community forums produced no consensus as one example and the attempt to create a stand-alone middle school at Sanders-Clyde Elementary School as another. The board’s approval of the rural schools move was a third, she said.

Among the issues the coalition presented to board members were concerns the board should require evidence of community engagement prior to considering  major changes at schools and that such plans should be based on support data that is regularly updated.

Re-segregating schools through programs that on face value look good, but exclude and separate students along racial lines was another issue presented. 

And the coalition said the district should find and employ teachers and administrators who are willing to work effectively with students of all races, socio-economic and ethnicity groups.

“We’re not interested in how many schools are failing, but how many students are succeeding," Dilligard said.

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