N. Charleston councilmembers tour school campuses to try to prove disparities

Members of North Charleston City Council spent the day trying to tour city schools in the Charleston County School District on Monday.
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 4:48 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 6, 2023 at 7:06 PM EST
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Members of North Charleston City Council spent the day trying to tour city schools in the Charleston County School District on Monday. But they never made it inside.

Mayor Keith Summey made an announcement in February saying his city would explore breaking away from the county to create its own school district.

The councilmembers said they wanted to look at the “disparities” between schools in their city and other cities like Mount Pleasant, Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island to try to further prove that their schools aren’t receiving enough support from Charleston County School District.

Four members of North Charleston City Council, Rhonda Jerome, Mike Brown, Jerome Heyward and Virginia Jamison, drove around in a city vehicle to district schools across North Charleston, including North Charleston High School and the Charleston County School of the Arts. They were hoping that the school district would let them go inside the schools, but they were denied. Instead, they just looked at the exteriors of the schools and pointed out flaws from the outside.

“Ride around, you’ll see,” Jerome said. “When you ride over to Mount Pleasant and Isle of Palms you can see a big difference just from the outside. So, you can imagine what the insides look like, just use your imagination.”

Charleston County School District spokesman Andy Pruitt said the councilmembers were potentially violating district policies by using schools as “political forums” along with being unauthorized visitors on campus.

“Every single child that we serve, we feel dedicated and feel very passionate that we want to make sure we provide them with life-changing opportunities. It doesn’t matter where they live,” Pruitt said. “They’ve been entrusted into our care, and we believe that’s important to make sure they all get what they need.”

Councilmembers say leaving the district is something that’s been talked about for 15 years. But they say the time is now to work to actually achieve their goal of starting a new district.

“Nothing’s getting better, “Jerome said. “It’s time.”

After Summey made the announcement last month, State Rep. Marvin Pendarvis filed a bill that would remove North Charleston schools from the Charleston County School District and create a new district.

The council members say they want Charleston County School District to come to the table with them as soon as possible to talk because they say their kids deserve better. The school district said they have always been open to sitting down with the city.

“The goal here is collaboration,” Pruitt said. “We really want to work with the City of North Charleston to find a path forward so that all of our schools and for them, specifically the schools in the City of North Charleston, can move in the right direction. We believe they are moving in the right direction.”

Pruitt said they are working on that path forward for North Charleston schools that belong to the district by improving academics and upgrading facilities, including a new campus that will be in the works for Morningside Middle School.