EDITOR’S NOTE: The full text of the letter sent to the School District of Pickens County board by several retired Pickens County educators follows. The Easley Progress received the letter via email:
February 17, 2014
School District of Pickens County Board of Trustees
We are life-long educators and administrators who retired from the School District of Pickens County. We chose to remain in Pickens County throughout our careers because of the quality of life and the quality of our schools. However, the current board’s inappropriate actions, conflict of interest, dissension, micromanagement, and failure to accept its legislative-designated roles have threatened that quality for the past several years. The recent report by the AdvancED External Review Team affirms that the board’s decisions and actions have not served the best interests of students.
The School District of Pickens County has consistently ranked among South Carolina’s strongest districts in academics, financial management, leadership, and innovative practices. The district has always met the state’s minimum requirements, but we have never been satisfied with the minimum.
In addition to meeting the state’s minimum requirements, our schools have also received accreditation from a recognized accrediting organization. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) recognized the quality of our schools as early as 1925 when Easley High School was first accredited. Most recently, the AdvancED Accreditation Commission (AdvancED) accredited the district. Our stakeholders – students, teachers and staff, administrators, parents, and community – have always taken pride in accreditation.
Our accreditation shows that we are not satisfied with meeting minimum requirements. We do not expect our students to be average; we do not expect our schools to be average; and we certainly do not expect our board to be average. We do not expect our board to be an obstacle in the accreditation of our schools.
We are especially concerned about our students. Without accreditation, Pickens County students may not be able to gain admission to in-state institutions of higher education or to prestigious out-of-state schools such as Duke, Harvard, Princeton, or Yale. Because of the trend toward homeschools, charter schools, and online schools, colleges and universities now consider multiple factors such as grades, SAT or ACT scores, and recommendations when granting admission to students; other post-secondary schools still require a diploma from an accredited school district. Students who have diplomas from accredited high schools are often given priority for admission, for financial aid, and for many academic, athletic, and state scholarships. We cannot risk the futures of Pickens County students.
You have the opportunity to make changes so that the School District of Pickens County does not lose accreditation, and we expect you to take the appropriate action. We offer our assistance in helping you make the required changes.
Sandra C. Bandy, Retired Principal of East End Elementary School
Kathy Brazinski , Retired Principal of A. R. Lewis Elementary School
Diane Brown, Retired Principal of Crosswell Elementary School
Douglas Clamp, Retired Director of Student Services
Harriett Clamp, Retired Principal of Dacusville Elementary School
David Cox, Sr., Retired Assistant Superintendent
Annette Craig, Retired Assistant Superintendent for Human Resource Services Betty F. Garrison, Retired Principal of Easley High School
Phil Greer, Retired Principal of Pickens High School
Ronnie Hall, Retired Principal of Easley Junior High School
Dean Holder, Retired Principal of Pickens Middle School
Bill Houston, Retired Principal of Easley High School
Dr. Henry Hunt, Retired Superintendent
Dr. Paul Prichard, Retired Principal of Clemson Elementary School
Michael Sanders, Retired Principal of R.C. Edwards Middle School
Ben Smith, Retired Director of B.J. Skelton Career Center
Dennis Somerville, Retired Principal of Liberty Middle School
Joe Tankersly, Retired Director of Elementary Education
Dr. Ken Weichel, Retired Principal of Clemson Elementary
Leonard Williams, Retired Director of Pickens County Career & Technology Center