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Education Department will not take over two local schools - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Education Department will not take over two local schools

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

Charleston County School District will keep control of two failing high schools. The State Education Department had the option to take over both Burke Middle High and North Charleston High Schools, but didn't take it.

The two schools presented a plan to the Education Department of how they will succeed in the future.

CCSD Superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley stood with Principal Maurice Cannon of Burke Middle High School and Robert Grimm of North Charleston High School, as they presented a case to the State Education Department to keep the state from taking over their schools.

"We have strong leaders. We have strong faculties and we are asking for the chance to hold our faculties accountable, give our principals three years to turn our schools around," Dr. McGinley said.

The Education Department was scrutinizing the two schools because they have been failing for several years now, and have been labeled "Palmetto Priority Schools."

Principal Cannon says at Burke Middle High he's committed to seeing through several goals for improvement including: improving instruction, reducing teacher turnover, and adding course work during summer.

"Being there for another three years is something that will allow me to see a vision from beginning to end, and continue on where else it will take the school," Cannon said.

The State Education Department says North Charleston High School was the worst performing school statewide in the 2010-2011 school year. Principal Grimm says his focus is the future.

"I don't foresee the school continuing the way it has with the at risk label being leveled at them over a period of time. I think at least during the time I'm there," Grimm said.

The goals for the school include adding more advanced placement courses, reducing class times to keep students' attention, and remedial courses for students who are struggling

"We have a track record of success in Charleston. These schools will not be left behind," Dr. McGinley said.

Altogether there were seven schools statewide that have failed year after year and under fire during the department's meeting Wednesday.

If State Education Superintendent Mick Zais had his way, he says he would put all of these failing schools into their own special turnaround or recovery school district. He says states like Louisiana and Tennessee have this type of district.

"This turnaround district will give parents and students trapped in a failing school the opportunity to transform their school.  They won't have to wait for new leadership in their district office or wait for the election of new school board members.  They will be empowered to make the changes needed to meet their unique requirements," Dr. Zais said.

This is only the superintendent's recommendation. He does not have the power to enact such a plan.

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