This article was written by Stephen DeVita of DD2 Schools Unwrapped and has been published here with permission.
Dorchester County, S.C. - At nearly the close of the DD2 School Board meeting, four parents of special needs children unleashed a fury of complaints alleged to stem from a decision to move some Special Education Programs due to a need to make room for new growth in existing schools at Sand Hill and Beach Hill Elementaries. Kendra Baughman said big changes were occurring, including at her school Knightsville Elementary, that prompted her to form a Facebook group now numbering about 42 parents. She said that they are being left in the dark about what is happening, and that continuity is important to special needs children. The Facebook group can be found at #SpecialNeedsParentsofDD2.
Another parent noted her son has a lot of behavioral problems but never had a behavioral plan. Parent Amanda Bishop noted how teachers bully her son telling him he’ll never amount to anything and that the issues are not being addressed by the school. She alleged that her school does not comply with the Safety Plan when behavioral issues occur and the SRO is not made aware of issues. The Superintendent promised to have someone contact the parents.
The Board approved 7-0 the 2nd reading of various policies including the library complaint policy that was previously revised to exclude a Policy Committee recommendation to include district residents in the group of persons who can file complaints about books. Kellie Bates, the original proponent of including the community said non-parents contribute taxes to the district despite Act 388, that her intentions in opening the review process to the community was for more transparency and she said some on the board aren't parents and they still have a say in education.
Public speakers numbered 5 in favor of the more limited policy and 4 against. One speaker, Sarah Heckethorn, noted that when actual parents come to voice concerns, “you let them (“the woke librarians and their activist friends,” she said) laugh at us, boo us and even mock the Bible” during the last meeting. At this meeting the Chair had admonished the crowd in the beginning to hold the clapping for speakers “until we’re done with everyone” in marked contrast to the previous meeting in which she permitted unrestrained, repeated clapping and jeering. Attendees were better behaved this time too.
Garnering little fanfare was the teacher lay-off policy which was revised significantly granting the Board and Superintendent greater latitude to retain more junior personnel while also seemingly contradicting a 2-year recall limit in State law. The Policy Committee had previously voted to recommend significant changes to this 30-year-old Instructional and Administrative Staff lay-off policy (GCQA/GCQB and its Rule) despite staff’s low-key presentation in which the Committee was invited to just read the changes without a public presentation by staff.
Highlights of the Board-approved lay-off changes:
1. The existing objective point system of weighting lay-off selection factors (which tended to favor more senior personnel) such as: time in DD2 service, academic educational degree levels, National Board Certification and total length of teaching was completely gutted in favor of a new list of specific, unweighted factors that now include for the first time (See: #DD2unwrapped for the new list of factors):
a. Professional experience in other areas which may have open positions,
b. Qualifications and ability as determined by the district evaluation procedure,
c. Attendance record,
d. Principal/supervisor recommendation,
e. Type of contract and
f. Extracurricular needs of the schools.
2. Length of DD2 service (commonly known as seniority) was severely limited and will only be used when the administration considers multiple staff equally competent in performance—this is also new.
3. Another change removed the 2-year limit in policy granting teachers a priority in recall. By removing the 2-year recall cap, the new language appears to extend indefinitely the right of “any certified teacher” to return to a job for which they are qualified if the teacher was employed for more than one year prior to the lay-off – contrary to state law.