Good Friday not a good school make-up day

After hearing complaints from some parents about using Good Friday as a make-up day, the Barnwell District 45 School Board discussed a possible change.

Chairwoman Teresa Spence said she had heard from several parents who were upset about the district using April 14 (Good Friday) to make up one of the days missed in the fall due to hurricanes. Good Friday was one of three bad weather make-up days built into the 2016-2017 school year calendar when it was created last year.

“I’ve heard a lot of concerns,” said Spence during the March 9 board meeting. That’s why she suggested changing the make-up day to March 24, which is scheduled as an in-service day for teachers.

Spence said some of the concerns were from high school parents because prom is the night of April 14. She said the policy is students must attend school at least half a day in order to attend prom.

For other parents it was more of a religious issue.

Acting Superintendent Crissie Stapleton said they plan to have parent-teacher conferences on March 24, but they have not sent out letters yet, so the conferences could be held at a different time.

If the date was changed to March 24, “one of the biggest implications would be the career center,” said Stapleton.

The career center has a luncheon scheduled that day, so any Barnwell High students who go to the career center would be kept at the high school in a study hall type setting if the date was changed. Approximately 80 students per block would be affected, she said.

“I can understand parents having that concern,” said board member Rosey Anderson, although she also remembers Good Friday used to be a school day when she was an educator.

Further discussion showed most board members were not in favor of changing the date, particularly due to how it would affect career center students. The date was not changed.

However, Stapleton read the district’s policy regarding absences. She said the reasons a student can be “lawfully absent” from school include there being a “recognized religious holiday of their faith.”

To ensure this is a not an issue next year, Stapleton said the 2017-2018 school year calendar includes Good Friday as a holiday. It will not be used as a make-up day.

The calendar is a “collaborative effort” of Barnwell County’s three school districts, although it was Williston District 29’s year to create the calendar. The school board approved the calendar.

The board also approved to waive having to make-up the fourth day of school that was missed in the fall due to bad weather. That means Good Friday is the last make-up day for students this year as they have already made up two days.

In other news:

• The board approved the monthly personnel report. including the hiring of Mary Tilton at Barnwell High for the next school year. The report also includes the hiring of Allen Bodiford as an elementary school custodian, Cathy Greene as a teacher assistant at the high school, Dereck Lawson as a high school custodian and Herbert Williams as a middle school custodian. Listed as retiring at the end of this school year are: middle school teacher Chris Delk, elementary teacher Janice Grubbs, high school teachers Dorothy Kirkland-Odom and Herman Thompson, primary school teacher Cindy Lambert, primary school food service operator Annie Jean Thomas, and custodian Howard Williams.

• The board approved the transfer of two students to Williston District 29.

• After a closed session for an employment matter and an expulsion hearing appeal, the board returned to open session where they unanimously denied the expulsion hearing appeal from “Student A”. No action was taken on the employment matter.