Parents in the Midlands region of South Carolina are furious after a local school district decided to move at least a half-dozen teachers from their classrooms midway through the school year.
Richland School district one (a.k.a. “Richland One“) is reportedly transferring teachers from elementary schools with smaller student populations to schools “in need of staff,” sources familiar with the situation told this news outlet. The transfers are scheduled to take effect this coming Monday (October 23, 2023).
Teachers were not given a choice in their reassignments. Parents were not informed of the moves, either – learning of them through word of mouth.
“My younger sister was notified of her reassignment from Brennan Elementary earlier this afternoon,” the sister of a teacher impacted by the reassignments noted in a social media post. “As a first-year teacher who has poured her heart and soul into creating the perfect classroom space and getting to know her first class, she is heartbroken.”
“She chose to stay in Columbia after graduating from (the University of South Carolina) because she fell in love with Brennan while student teaching and has since fallen in love with her students,” the sister continued. “Don’t get me started on how disruptive this will be for her kindergarteners … this is not how we support and keep passionate educators.”
“The district is a disgrace,” another frustrated source told us.
District officials have not publicly confirmed any of the details of these reassignments. According to our sources, at least one kindergarten teacher and one first grade teacher from Brennan Elementary school are being reassigned. Meanwhile, at least three teachers from Satchel Ford Elementary school are being reassigned from their current classrooms which encompass grades three through five.
District leaders informed the affected teachers of the reassignments during meetings this week. No dissent was allowed.
“One of the teachers was told to remember her position,” the source said. “She was speaking to higher ups in the district and it’s like a corporation she needs to respect them.”
Because the moves were announced as the schools were entering their fall break, teachers impacted by the reassignments were denied the opportunity to say goodbye to their students.
“This is a misguided response to the teacher shortage problem and harms individual schools, classrooms, and students,” one parent wrote on a district Facebook page. “This will crush school and district morale. Additionally, it will be a huge deterrent for new teacher applicants. What an awful way to treat teachers and students!”
(Click to view)
Richland One has long been among the Palmetto State’s most dysfunctional school districts – as documented by this media outlet’s extensive reporting over the years (see here and here). “Serving” an estimated 22,000 students, it employs more than 4,000 people – including an estimated 1,900 teachers.
Currently the district has an estimated 150 teacher vacancies – which is down from the more than 200 vacancies it had entering the 2023-2024 school year.
Richland One leaders have been running a sinking ship for some time. In 2016, superintendent Craig Witherspoon missed a title one funding deadline that cost the district more than $3.1 million. In 2019, the district was accused of awarding major contracts to businesses connected to board members. Last year, it was sued for the second time in two years for allegedly holding secret meetings in violation of the law. That case settled last October.
The ongoing dysfunction is coming at an escalating price tag, too.
South Carolina’s failed government-run school system – which continues to fall further behind the rest of the nation – nonetheless keeps receiving massive increases in taxpayer funding. Per pupil funding is pushing $18,000 per child, per year … totaling nearly $14 billion annually. And that’s not counting carry-forward balances hoarded by districts, federal “stimulus” funding or proceeds from local bond referendums.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to proactively address? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your letter to the editor (or guest column) via email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.