COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Several Colleton County School District parents feel like their voices are not being heard because of the district’s virtual-only meetings.
Tyeesha Aiken has a child in the school district and says school board meetings need to be opened up so parents can voice their concerns directly to the board of trustees.
“Less than thirty days out and we still don’t have answers,” Aiken said. “We are emailing our questions and we are not getting answers and then we ask for a public forum and no response.”
The district has hosted several listening sessions to help parents understand what is happening this year and to answer any questions they may have, but Aiken and community activist J.D. Davis say those virtual meetings are ineffective.
The last one was Monday afternoon at 3 p.m.
“Parents are working at 3 p.m. My thoughts on that meeting is, it was ludicrous,” Davis argued, saying it’s not just the timing but the technology too. “Many parents are not internet savvy. They are not computer savvy.”
Aiken and Davis were among around a dozen community members who showed up to the full board meeting Tuesday night. They were hoping they might be able to voice their concerns during a public comment period but, since the meeting was fully virtual, they were not allowed to attend in person.
The issue of reinstating in-person meetings was addressed at the meeting.
“There is absolutely no reason why the board meeting should still be closed to the public,” said board member William Bowman. “This room is big enough to socially distance.”
On Friday, the district held an in-person public meeting to discuss athletics and activities. Parents and students were welcome to attend.
Christie Davis, another parent waiting outside the board meeting, says she does not understand why there would be a public meeting for athletics but not education.
“I think they are more concerned about the revenues coming in than what’s going into our children’s heads,” Christie Davis said. “You [the school board] couldn’t let me in this meeting, but you allowed other parents to come into a session and talk about sports.”
The district is taking up a proposal to open meetings to in-person audiences.