Education News

The Georgetown County School district is pushing back against claims that an alleged case of harassment at Georgetown Middle School was not handled properly.

During public comments at the school board meeting on Tuesday, Marilyn Hemingway with the Georgetown NAACP branch said the organization has launched an inquiry into “alleged sexual harassment” by a male teacher at Georgetown Middle.

“What we have received has proved to be very disturbing to us, and we are looking towards making this all verifiable and following all the resources available to us within the legal system,” Hemingway said.

According to NAACP branch President Marvin Neal, the organization submitted a freedom of information act request on June 3 “on behalf of the student that’s involved and the parent requesting immediate investigation.” Neal said the parent previously went to the “appropriate school official and the response is not good that they received.”

“We have received several complaints on one individual,” Neal said. The NAACP did not identify the teacher while speaking during public comments or when addressing reporters afterward.

But the school district said Wednesday administrators took appropriate action regarding two separate allegations of sexual harassment, one in February and one in April.

A statement from the district’s attorney said, “The allegations referred to by the NAACP at last night’s meeting of the Georgetown County School District Board of Trustees were reported at the time to Georgetown Middle School administration, who in turn notified the Georgetown Police Department and the District Office. Both organizations conducted investigations into the allegations, which were not substantiated. The outcome of the investigations was shared with those parties as allowed by law.”

The school district acknowledged receipt of a FOIA request and said officials “will submit our response late next week, within the statutorily required timeframes.”

Lunch prices going up

Also during Tuesday's meeting, the school board approved raising meal prices for the 2019-2020 school year. Breakfast will increase from $1.20 to $1.25. Lunch for the elementary/intermediate schools will increase from $1.90 to $2.00 while lunch at the middle/high school level will increase from $2.00 to $2.25.

“It’s been two years since I come before you to ask for an increase in student meal prices,” said Brent Streett, executive director for Food Service and Procurement.

Executive Director for Human Resources Jon Tester announced there are presently 10 vacancies across the school district. According to Superintendent Randy Dozier, open positions have been filled by some retirees coming back with “maybe a few more” to bring the number of vacancies down.

Finance Director Lisa Johnson updated the board on two bond sales related to capital improvement projects.

A general obligation bond sold for $55 million with a true interest rate cost of 2.797 percent with a re-offering premium of $3.3 million. The bond anticipation note sale sold for $100 million with a true interest cost rate of 1.397 percent and a re-offering premium of $1.5 million.

In 2016, voters approved a referendum allowing the district to issue bonds and notes not to exceed $165 million in order to fund various construction projects at each school in the district.

The board was presented with an updated draft of the 2019-2020 budget. It includes a 4 percent salary scale increase for all employees.

“Everybody works hard,” said board member Richard Kerr. “We needed to get an even base for our people. It’s a pretty small price to pay. We show a responsibility to take care of our employees.”