Protesters gather outside CCSD ahead of meeting that could bring big changes

VIDEO: Protesters gather outside CCSD ahead of meeting that could bring big changes

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Protesters assembled Monday morning about an hour before the scheduled start of a Charleston County School District meeting that could ultimately decide on major changes for more than a dozen schools in the district.

Some of the parents say they want the district to slow down their decision making process and be more transparent.

They say they also want to have more input in the decisions being made.

About 100 people came out to protest outside of the district’s headquarters. CCSD parent Nina Fields Britt was one of them.

“To suggest that the community has really had requisite time to consider the proposals to vet them to provide feedback, I think it’s pretty disingenuous,” she said.

But others believe that some of the changes could help improve education for some of the students.

The school board is expected to vote on several recommendations that include combining elementary schools, eliminating the magnet status of Sullivan’s Island Elementary School and St. Andrew Math and Science and more.

The district released a statement on Monday’s vote:

“The Board of Trustees is considering broad-sweeping recommendations, but no final decisions have been made. This is a process that started over a year ago with the Shared Future Project, then Mission Critical Action Groups, and for the past weeks, community listening sessions to gather input and feedback. Through our actions, we have encouraged the community’s involvement in this process as we all try to work toward improving educational opportunities for all of our students.”

Parent Matthew Gough protested ahead of the meeting.

“I’m just one of the other concerned parents that are out here about the elimination of the partial magnet and how quickly the board is trying to rush this through, and they haven’t provided transparency and our opportunity to do our own research and due diligence,” Gough said. “It’s not about the school that my children go to but it’s about all of the schools and all of the kids.”

Community member, Elvin Speights says he supports the proposal to eliminate the partial magnet status of some schools.

School district officials say if the magnet status is eliminated it could open up the school to more people who live near the school as opposed to people who live in different areas applying to attend.

“I’ve had my disagreements with the district as well, but on this issue here I agree,” Speights said. “The schools have been segregated for a long time. The segregation is undeniable now. So on this issue here when it comes to the getting rid of the charter or magnet and just letting all kids attend, I agree.”

District officials says if the magnet status is removed, the schools will still provide its topic of specialization for students.

“Let’s just slow down and do the research,” Gough said. “I don’t think anybody is opposed to providing greater education for the children in this community. It’s the way and manner it’s been approached.”

Last week, lawmakers asked the district to hold off on voting on any of the proposed changes because of concerns and confusion about the changes. More than 20 state lawmakers signed the letter asking the district to slow down. The school district was supposed to meet with the delegation on Friday, but that meeting was pushed to Nov. 22.

The school board, meanwhile, is scheduled to meet at 12:25 p.m. at 75 Calhoun Street.

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