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Trustees approve policy changes

Posted: October 21, 2010 10:02 p.m.
Updated: October 22, 2010 5:00 a.m.

In approving policy changes concerning response to suspected child abuse and other emergency situations, the Kershaw County Board of School Trustees agreed at its Tuesday meeting that it is imperative district personnel be well-versed in how to react.

Previously, the South Carolina School Boards Association produced its annual Policy and Legislative Update to advise school districts of their recommended policy changes -- all of which the trustees have discussed at length during their past two meetings.

Among the several changes the board made to the policy was requiring all school personnel to immediately report any suspicion of child abuse.

 “The only thing that’s not included in it is the timing of which to make the report, because we’ve had it where they’ll wait 24 hours and the child is in danger, and they send them home,” Trustee Mara Jones said, looking at the revisions. “I know the state statutes state that you can’t return a child to an environment that is of harm that you have knowledge of, because that’s against the law.”

On Tuesday evening, Trustee Jim Smith said the policies need to be detailed so that all school district employees know exactly what to do when faced with various situations. Trustee Kim DuRant had earlier said she heard of a situation where a bus driver did not immediately report a suicide threat made by one of the students on the bus.

“Let’s say we’re at 5 o’clock in the afternoon … with half a busload of children and one says he’s going to commit suicide. What does that bus driver do?” Smith said. “We need to get some good, strong direction to these people because they don’t have a clue what to do.”

“They ought to call 911,” Chairman Joey Dorton replied, while many of the board members agreed.

When Kershaw County School District (KCSD) Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan suggested devising a set of procedures for bus drivers to follow, Jones said “that is the worst thing you could do.”

“What’s going to happen, and I’ve worked in child abuse and neglect for a long time, is you will give them cookie-cutter procedures. And you’ll have a situation that does not fit it and that child then is successful,” Jones said. “And the employee says, ‘I followed the procedures.’ What you do is give guidance for developing safety plans.”

After a lengthy discussion, the board approved the updated policies. Trustee Andy James voted against it and Trustee Sherri Brosius was not present.

Additionally, the school district will take the new policy and provide training to be sure that all KCSD employees know about it.

In other news, KCSD Director for Communications Mary Anne Byrd and Greta McAvoy, who works as the coordinator for student data, demonstrated the school district’s new Parent Portal to board members.

Through the program, parents will be able to view their student’s grades and attendance online. The program will be piloted in Camden Elementary, Lugoff-Elgin Middle and North Central High schools.

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