Open Letter to Kershaw County School District Superintendent

The following is an email that I sent to the Kershaw County School District superintendent this evening. If you have children in Kershaw County Schools, I urge you to let the district know how you feel about this new “policy”.

Dr. Morgan,

As I know you are well aware, many of the parents who received this School Messenger message this evening are confused and more than a little upset. ( ) According to this, our entire SIC, PTA & countless other volunteers have been completely wiped out. No one I’ve been in contact with this evening is willing to pay $25 for this EVERY YEAR. I admit this is complete hearsay, but I heard the staff at Doby’s Mill was asking certified police officers who were dropping off their children to leave the building because they weren’t on the SLED list. Really? They’re police officers for goodness sakes…their background checks – complete with fingerprint checks – are much more reliable than the “honor system” background checks that are required from volunteers. (“Honor system” because it assumes the person filling out the form is providing accurate information.) The same holds true for anyone in South Carolina who is a Concealed Weapons Permit holder – Concealed Weapons Permit holders must submit to a background check complete with fingerprints & a copy of a government issued ID.

Also, according to that message, this policy was voted on by the school board. I looked through school board minutes back to March 1, 2011 posted on the district’s web site & I have not been able to find any reference to this policy being discussed at any of the meetings. The only reference I found to “volunteers” at all was in the March 15, 2011 Vice Chairman’s Report: “Mrs. Jones wanted to say she has witnessed caring individuals who willingly volunteer to help in our schools. She is impressed with those who are willing to enteract [interact] with students by reading to them.  In light of what has happened in Japan, she wanted to express her appreciation not only to the teachers and school staffs around our county but also the parents and volunteers.

What does the district think is going to happen to all those wonderful volunteers if they are required to pay $25 to volunteer? Literally thousands of hours of assistance to our schools will be gone.

  • – Test monitors for state mandated testing – gone
  • – PTA & PTO members who raise funds to help teachers purchase classroom supplies so they don’t have to pay as much out of their own pockets – gone
  • – Volunteers to staff book fairs so the media centers can purchase books & other library supplies – gone
  • – Volunteers for various “Field Days” – gone
  • – Chaperones for field trips & sports trips – gone
  • – Volunteers to help out in the office when it’s short staffed – gone
  • – Volunteers to help teachers in the classroom with countless tasks – gone

I could go on, but I think you get the point. Blaney PTA alone contributed over $28,000 in expenses directly related to mentoring, academic enrichment, books & supplies for the media center, school beautification, office/classroom supplies and school outreach (not PTA outreach). The year prior that number was approximately $20,000. I’m sure the other PTO & PTAs throughout the district have similar stories.

For many of us, it’s not so much the $25 (although yes, we are a bit put-off by that). But consider this – you’ve just paid an Incident Fee of $30 per student just to attend this “free” public education institution, an additional $25 per student if you have children in SEAGUL, $25 per student per sport in Middle school ($50/student cap), $50 per student per sport in high school ($100/student cap) and $60 if your student parks at the high school AND you know you’re still going to have to pay possibly $100 or more in field trip fees during the year so your student isn’t left out of learning opportunities (and yes, my child actually DOES learn on her field trips), well, that $25 is essentially a slap in the face to those of us who do volunteer 100+ hours AT the schools (I’ve put in hundreds more outside the school in PTO/PTA related volunteer time). AND WE HAD NO WARNING THAT THIS REQUIREMENT WAS COMING.

Let’s also consider that according to the SLED web site, background checks for 501(c)3 organizations is only $8. There are TWO (that I know of) 501(c)3 organizations associated with Kershaw County schools that COULD apply for the Charitable Organization Exemption through SLED to get background checks for $8 each instead of $25. I do not know about the Doby’s Mill PTA, but the Blaney Elementary PTA was not approached to request assistance with this.

Please understand, I am all for protecting our children, but sometimes things that are done with the intent of “protection” begin to border on absurd.

Thank you for your time,

Sherra Scott
Concerned Blaney Elementary parent & PTA member

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