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Superintendent declares state of emergency in Allendale Co. schools

SC Dept. of Education Superintendent Molly Spearman (source: SC Dept. of Education) SC Dept. of Education Superintendent Molly Spearman (source: SC Dept. of Education)

South Carolina state schools Superintendent Molly Spearman has declared a state of emergency in Allendale County schools. The declaration comes as a result of the continued poor performance of the county's students.

Out of the four schools in the Allendale County School District, three are in the bottom 5% of all schools in the state. According to a release from the SC Department of Education, there are significant programmatic and financial concerns within the school district. Despite the district's poor student performance, the Allendale County School District receives more public funds than most other school districts in South Carolina; over $17,000 per student.

"Allendale County Schools have received significant increases in funding yet continue to have some of the worst results. These students deserve better and we must remain accountable to the taxpayers,” said Spearman. "I have significant concerns about district finances not being used efficiently nor effectively. We will take corrective action and ensure that every tax dollar is spent transparently in ways that improve student academic achievement.”

The Appropriations Acts of 2017 and 2018 include Proviso 1A.12, which allows the State Superintendent of Education to "declare a state of emergency in a district if the accreditation status is probation or denied, if a majority of the schools fail to show improvement, if the district is classified as being in "high risk" status financially, or for financial mismanagement resulting in a deficit.” Once a state of emergency is declared, the State Superintendent can take over management of the district.

As State Superintendent, my top priority is to build a brighter future for every South Carolina student. Too often it seems education has been about serving the interest of adults rather than the needs of students in our classrooms,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “Management decisions that put self-interest ahead of our students’ achievement are unacceptable. I will not stand by while students get left behind because of the poor decision-making of adults. With this in mind, I am declaring a state of emergency and will take over direct management of the Allendale County School District."

Superintendent Spearman has appointed Dr. Walter Tobin, Sr. to serve as Allendale County Schools superintendent. Dr. Tobin will report directly to Spearman. He will begin meeting with community leaders, parents, and school district employees this week.

“I do not make this decision lightly,” said Spearman. “Our schools perform best when parents and the local community is involved. Local input is vital to successfully getting Allendale schools back on the right track. Dr. Tobin and I will be meeting regularly with parents, teachers, and community leaders in order to keep the Allendale community involved as we make the tough decisions required to move the district forward.”

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