The importance of following proper procedure in accordance with the law was stressed to the Union County Board of School Trustees Monday by two board members who recently attended a conference on legal issues involving schools.
Monday’s meeting — held at Jonesville Elementary/Middle School — began with the recognition of five district employees with 40 years of service. Those recognized were Cleveland Jackson, Freida Jackson, Margaret Holloway, Karen Hibbard and Brenda Byrd.
After the recognition ceremony, trustees Jantzen Childers and Manning Jeter made a presentation on their trip to the 2012 South Carolina School Boards Association (SCSBA) School Law Conference in Charleston over the weekend. Each year, the conference brings together board members, administrators and the attorneys who advise them to present up-to-date information on legal and regulatory issues impacting public schools.
Childers mentioned that he particularly enjoyed one of the breakout sessions called “Moss v. Spartanburg School District Seven: A First Amendment Case Study.” He said the case had to do with letting students go off campus during non-instructional time for a religious course and get credit for it. Spartanburg District Seven eventually won the case.
“I thought it was very interesting, and it really brought out the importance of keeping all of your communications, even your emails.” Childers said.
Jeter mentioned that some of the information presented at the conference involved the 14th Amendment and the right to due process.
“Not just a student in the school district has the right to due process, but anyone — certified staff, non-certified staff, custodians, whatever the case may be — should have due process of law at any time and at all times,” Jeter said. “Any time that they would like to come before the board, the best thing to do is at least hear them out, which I hate to say we haven’t been doing so.”
Jeter went on to say that there are so many rights that fall under the 14th Amendment that it is possible that some have been violated.
Childers then brought up another item that got his attention during the conference. He said that board members often receive phone calls from parents who have complaints, and if the board member listens to that complaint, then he or she should be excused from the meeting.
“You have to be careful because people are going to think you don’t care,” Childers said. “When they call you, you need to say, ‘As an individual person, I have no power. If you want me to hear it as a member of the board and be able to listen in on it and make a vote on it, then you need to go through the proper channels. Don’t even tell me about it. I don’t need to hear it until I hear it officially.’ You don’t want to seem like you don’t care, but at the same time, if you sit there and listen to it, then you don’t need to sit here and take part in it because you could get the whole board in trouble.”
“You can sit in and hear it out; You don’t need to vote on it,” Jeter added.
Gifted And Talented Plan
Jeff Stribble, disrict director of Special Services/GT, provided the board with information regarding the first reading of the Gifted and Talented plan, which was developed through work over the past year by the district gifted and talented team.
“The plan will cover a five-year period of time once the revised GT regulations are approved, which should happen during this next legislative year,” Stribble said, it will be the last time the board will have to approve a separate GT plan since GT aspects will roll over into the district strategic plan.
Stribble said most of the goals and strategies in the plan align directly with the district strategic plan the board has already approved. He did draw the board’s attention to the fact that the sixth grade honors program is being expanded to include English/Language Arts in addition to the math and science that was included in years past. The plan will be submitted for the board’s approval at the next meeting, which will be held on Sept. 10 at the Union County Career and Technology Center.
The only action taken during Monday’s meeting was the unanimous approval of a personnel report, which included the following:
Freida Jackson — Save the Children — Monarch Elementary
Kathy Arnold — Save the Children — Monarch Elementary
Cameron Willis — part-time physical education — Union County High
Betsy Sheorn — part-time special education — Monarch Elementary
Gloria Farr — secretary — Buffalo Elementary
Linda Lawson — personnel specialist — District Office
Viola Wicker — transferring to Buffalo Elementary
Walter Kelly — Jonesville Elementary/Middle
Amy Worthy — Parenting Outreach Tutor — Monarch Elementary
Catherine Poulos — secretary — Sims Middle