Zais Denied Biology Textbooks To Spartanburg Students

From The Spartanburg Herald-Journal:


Published: Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 3:15 a.m.

About 200 Byrnes High School students might not have biology textbooks when they return to school in less than two weeks.

Spartanburg District 5 officials say they’ll dip into their own pockets to get students books for what they say will be a required course after learning the books will not be provided by the S.C. Department of Education, but they might not be there in time for the first day. State officials said the course is not required, so the requested biology textbooks will not be issued.

District 5 asked for about 200 biology books to accommodate an increase in the number of students signed up for freshman- and sophomore-level courses. Superintendent Scott Turner said many freshmen will take applied biology 1 in the coming year — the first in a two-course study of biology elements to be tested on a federally mandated end-of-course exam during their second year of high school. Students on a faster track can elect to take just one biology course before taking the end-of-course exam, Turner explained, but offering the subject in two parts helps more students succeed.

“Our district’s very forward thinking,” said Pat Monteith, principal of the Byrnes Freshman Academy. “Everything we do is to help our kids be successful. This was quite a blow for us. We’re trying to do something proactive for our students and our hands are tied.” Continue reading

S.C. Ensures Schools’ Race To The Bottom, Rejects $144K

From The Associated Press:


COLUMBIA, S.C. — The U.S. Department of Education says $144 million of federal bailout money meant for South Carolina’s public schools will be doled out to the other 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. State leaders replied the state doesn’t need the money, which represents a federal intrusion into state education.

The federal agency sent a letter last week to Republican Gov. Nikki Haley and Superintendent Mick Zais, notifying them South Carolina’s money will go elsewhere if the state doesn’t apply for it by Monday. South Carolina is the only state not to receive its share of $10 billion passed by Congress last August specifically for teaching jobs in the last and current school year.

“These resources have assisted local schools and communities across the country in hiring and retaining vital teachers and educators in the classroom to support ongoing teaching and learning,” agency director Ann Whalen wrote Zais in the letter dated Aug. 5. “We hope that teachers and students in South Carolina will be able to benefit from these funds, as well.”

In response, Zais said state and federal officials have known since September that South Carolina did not qualify for the money because of state cuts to colleges. Even if it did, Zais said, he wouldn’t seek the money, noting he opposed bailouts as a candidate last year and his position hasn’t changed.

“I regret that your agency wasted taxpayers’ resources to inform the state again about something it and USDE already knew,” Zais wrote Whalen on Tuesday. “Instead, your letter appears as another attempt to inject Washington politics into South Carolina’s affairs.”

Haley agreed. Continue reading

2011 Public School Guidelines For Seclusion and Restraint

The South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) has published guidelines on the use of seclusion and restraint  in public schools.  In April 2011 State Superintendent Of Education Mick Zais mailed hard copies of the guidelines to all school districts in SC.

The guidelines note that restraint and seclusion should only be used as a last resort when student pose clear, present, or imminent danger to themselves or others. They also prohibit certain forms and methods of restraint: prone (face down) and supine (face up) restraints, as well as mechanical and chemical restraints. Any use of seclusion or restraint must be fully documented as noted in the guidelines. As a final note, all staff members must be trained by a nationally recognized, externally-developed professional training program with emphasis on de-escalation.

Attached you will find a full copy of these guidelines:

FINAL April 18 2011Seclusion Restraint Document