School board candidates answer community questions

VIDEO: School board candidates answer community questions

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston County Consolidated School Board candidates answered both students and community member's questions Thursday night in a community-wide forum.

All nine candidates were invited to participate in the forum, and six of the candidates were in attendance.

Candidates answered questions that focused on improving public education; including school policy changes, school art programs, and school resource officers.

When candidates were asked which specific changes they want to see in district policy, each had a different response.

"I want to see African American's curriculum in our schools. Because we gotta know where we been before we now where we're going we got to know for us because that's the problem," candidate Tony Lewis said.

"We need to have a culturally competent staff who understand who they are teaching and can bring all kinds of kids together in a classroom to understand each other that's also equally important," candidate Priscilla Jeffery said.

"There should not be a policy in a manual that is out of state with federal or state law that should be a given because the people implementing that policy need to be current on what it is and it's dependable on the school district to make sure those policies remain up to date," candidate Gary Leonard said.

"To have someone who can relate to them, to understand diversity and culture, and social background, history and community and we have a person that understands people and diversity that school can function well," candidate Chris Collins said.

"What we have to do is actually have a retreat with the constituency board and the consolidated board so we can actually find out who has the authority to do what," candidate Louis Smith said.

"Oftentimes these policies were passed ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty years ago. We need to look deep into the policies that we currently have on book on the role and have the policy committee really look at those policies in depth to make sure they currently serve the needs not just of the students, but of the faculty and staff," candidate Michael Miller said.

The candidates were also talked about their stance on police resource officers in schools.

"Resource officers are there to protect the kids, resource officers are there to protect the buildings, resource officers are not there to do the teachers work," Smith said.

"I see them as a threat to all students more so in safety because that puts a shield and light on the kids that he's there to use his body stick," Lewis said.

"They are trained by the school district and too many times the teachers and principals are relying on the police officers to handle discipline they are not punishment at all. The only time police officer is being used is when a crime is committed," Collins said.

"I believe that person is needed really for safety violations. I worked in a urban high school with 2000 students and we had two resource officers and I worked there for nine years and I never saw one arrest we dealt with all our discipline issues in the classroom if possible," Jeffrey said.

"it's a very simple and primary role, one to protect the school form intrusion and if intrusion were to take place to secure it to keep students safe not to police the students not to act in roles that are contrary to that contract," Miller said.

"It's much better to have officers that were from those areas that also have been fairly young in their development age and have also received additional training. So yes you need to train them but also look at who you're bringing into your buildings," Leonard said.

Voters will have a chance to choose who they want to have a say in their child's future in the November election.

Copyright WCSC 2016.