I have read excerpts from social media posts, received emails, and phones calls in regards to questions about how the district responds to fights or assaults on school grounds. Our approach is unified throughout this district. We operate under our School Board Policy which outlines what we do when various offenses occur.
Our discipline code has various levels of offenses and various punishments just like the SC Code of Criminal Law does. In regards to weapons, drugs, and violence our district has strict penalties that range to expulsion from school (removal for the rest of the school year). Our approach has been consistent that if students commit these serious offenses they will be recommended for expulsion. If students commit these serious offenses off school property and the offense is shown to impact our school we can legally take action to suspend or expel the student for the off campus behavior.
SC state law has set protocols that every school district in this state must follow in regards to due process of students who are accused of discipline violations. In addition to the punishment from our discipline code we refer all criminal violations to law enforcement for investigation. Law enforcement then determines what charges should be filed if any.
Our district has spent millions of dollars on school safety from hiring school resource officers to having over 1,500 surveillance cameras. Our policies on violence are strict and consistent. Our administrators have been trained well, and we focus on strong supervision. We have set up tip lines to report school crime and held parent forums to better educate parents about school safety.
Unfortunately, even with all of our hard work and resources spent we still have isolated fights or assaults. Schools are a subculture of society and unfortunately people make bad decisions. Young people are impulsive and do not always think about the consequences of their actions. When these bad decisions are made it is important that we have good procedures in place to respond quickly to de-escalate the event; and we do. You must have strict consequences for the bad behavior and we do.
I hope you will take time to call our office with questions or concerns about school violence. Those who choose to write their own narrative on social media absent true facts and details do our schools a disservice. Our students, staff, and administration don’t deserve to have all of their hard work and accolades be overshadowed by the poor actions of a few.
My door is always open and I am always receptive to traveling to any part of this county to speak with parents about school safety.