Town hall meeting raises concerns about future of 9 failing schools in Charleston County

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    Nine Charleston County schools are considered among the lowest-achieving in the state.

    Attendees at Monday's town hall organized by Charleston County School Board member and African-American Kevin Hollinshead say the board needs to address failing, predominantly African-American schools in Charleston County.

    “African-Americans collectively as a whole are talking about the issues, and how we can move forward to better serve our community,” says Hollinshead.

    “They’ve been making moves throughout the year, that came to a big ball when we started talking to each other. Individuals had issues with the district," he said.

    CCSD Public Information Officer Andy Pruitt had no comment on the town hall meeting.

    Other board members like Cindy Bohn Coats say the district is doing all it can, "and we’re getting amazing results. So our job as a board is to say, 'this is something that works let’s scale it.'”

    Former school board Michael Miller says low-achieving schools in Charleston County impact everyone.

    “This isn’t just an African-American or black-white issue. This is a Charleston County system, student parent-issue, and all of us should be concerned.”

    He says only 9 percent of African-American students in the Charleston County public school system received “passing” scores on 2018 ACT tests, compared to 59 percent of white students.

    “The disparity is big, but Caucasian students aren’t doing as well as one would like either," Miller said.

    So how does the board fix nine failing schools?

    “The first thing that would come to my mind is we have to get better teachers in our classrooms," Bohn Coats says. “Supporting the teachers, providing professional development, and then saying 'how did that work out for you in the classroom.'"

    Hollinshead says he’s part of a delegation going to Atlanta to see how educators there introduced diversity and success into formerly failing public schools.

    “We’re going to show interest in what they’re doing, and hopefully that’s something we can pick up and bring back to Charleston,” he said.

    The state board of education took over three failing South Carolina schools in the last year.

    All of the county board members say they’ll do everything possible to make sure that doesn’t happen in Charleston County.

    Monday was the second of three town halls addressing racial issues within the school district. A date for the third town hall meeting has yet to be set.

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