Letter outlines reasons for state to step in

Last updated: February 04. 2014 8:56PM - 294 Views
By - dmoody@civitasmedia.com

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EASLEY — Robin Miller, a Forest Acres Elementary parent concerned over the re-accreditation issue of the School District of Pickens County, recently penned a plea to S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley in the hope something can be done.

According to Miller, it was the hope of making the governor aware of the situation that prompted her.

“My goal was for our district to maintain its accreditation. I composed my letter in response to what I perceived as an absence of urgency to formulate and communicate a precise plan for complying with AdvancEd’s requirements,” Miller said. “I felt it necessary to seek an audience with the one level of government with the ability to prevent the loss of accreditation. I did not expect a personal response but hoped and still pray for intervention.”

Miller’s letter describes the re-accreditation of the school district from a parent’s point of view, stressing the board’s issues cited in AdvancED’s re-accreditation report, mainly the board’s conduct, and references a similar situation in 2008 concerning Clayton, Ga., and failed re-accreditation for similar citations as Pickens County’s own board.

The situation in Clayton, according to Miller’s letter, had a “devastating impact” with “the loss of accreditation.”

Miller’s letter to Haley stresses that “(i)t was the governance of the board of trustees, not academics, that resulted in the revocation of accreditation,” in the Clayton, Ga., incident.

It was this report from AdvancED that prompted Miller to act.

“The AdvancEd report got my attention as well as that of parents district-wide,” Miller said. “The apathy that I observed among board members combined with the disrespect that was apparent on member-sponsored blogs absolutely broke my heart for our teachers. I vowed to do whatever I could to speak for our teachers and to make their voices heard in the School District of Pickens County.”

The AdvancED report did recommend re-accreditation for Pickens County, citing some facilities and academic areas for review in five years, but only if the board’s issues are reviewed and addressed by April to AdvancED’s satisfaction will the re-accreditation requirements under the review be met.

In a previous interview, Vice Chairman Alex Saitta stressed that the board will do what is recommended and is “confident all the requirements by AdvancED will be met on time” and will satisfy the re-accreditation requirements.

According to Miller’s letter, she isn’t as confident but is hopeful the district and board can return to the business of education, which is what she hoped to achieve with the missive to the governor.

“I would like to see our board of trustees demonstrate respect for our teachers, to seek input from our teachers and honor the collective wisdom gained from many years of teaching,” Miller said when asked what her expectations were.

Miller also said she was hoping “…to begin a dialogue for increasing salaries and to rebuild relationships with district employees so that the Pickens County School District becomes a place where teachers and families and businesses want to be.”

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