November 25, 2015

USC creates Center for Civil Rights History and Research

Congressman Jim Clyburn speaks at Monday's ceremony (Image: Provided by USC)

Congressman Jim Clyburn speaks at Monday’s ceremony (Image: Provided by USC)

South Carolina’s only Democrat in Congress will donate his official papers and other documents to the University of South Carolina as part of a new civil rights center announced Monday.

Congressman Jim Clyburn revealed the contribution to the university’s new Center for Civil Rights History and Research during a ceremony Monday.

“I hope that I can play a role in bringing the role in bringing the real story of South Carolina to those who would benefit from it,” Clyburn said during the ceremony.

USC already has a significant collection of papers from some of the state’s most noted civil rights leaders, including Joseph A. De Laine, John Bolt Culbertson, I. DeQuincey Newman and Modjeska Monteith Simkins, but school leaders say they want to house the documents in a single location rather than scattered across its massive library collections.

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Florida developer gets 3 years probation for role in SC State kickback case

A Florida developer will avoid prison for his role in a corruption and bribery scandal at South Carolina State University, after a federal judge agreed his cooperation and lack of criminal record made three years probation an appropriate sentence.

Richard Zahn had pleaded guilty two years ago to wire fraud and attempted bribery for his role in promising kickbacks to two SC State officials in exchange for the school buying land that Zahn owned. Even though his plea came in 2013, prosecutors had waited until after criminal cases were resolved against former SC State Board of Trustees chairman Jonathan Pinson and others.

The State newspaper reported Monday District Judge David Norton accepted arguments from Zahn’s attorneys, who argued the developer had cooperated with investigators and even testified during Pinson’s trial last year. In addition to the probation, the developer must also fund a $25,000 scholarship for a student at South Carolina’s only public historically-black college.

Pinson, who denies intentionally violating the law, was eventually convicted on 29 counts and sentenced to five years in prison for agreeing to accept Zahn’s bribe while at SC State, as well as misusing government grant funds in a Columbia housing project and a Marion County diaper factory. He remains out on bond while his sentence is appealed.

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Clemson, USC ask fans to arrive early due to tighter security at games

Memorial Stadium at Clemson, better known to fans by its nickname "Death Valley" (Image: Clemson Athletics)

Memorial Stadium at Clemson, better known to fans by its nickname “Death Valley” (Image: Clemson Athletics)

Fans attending both football games at both Clemson University and the University of South Carolina on Saturday are being told to arrive earlier than normal due to increased security measures.

Both schools announced this week they will be more diligent about security, one week after French officials said three different suicide bombers set off explosions outside a soccer stadium in Paris. The first suicide bomber detonated his explosives after a security guard spotted the vest he was wearing. Two others detonated theirs outside the stadium.

Clemson’s Assistant Athletic Director for Event Management Jon Allen said school officials are not aware of any specific threats, but are using the attacks as reminder for staff to be extra vigilant. “Fans can expect to see a little more security than what they’ve seen in the past,” he said.

Some of the changes announced by both schools will include tighter screening of any handbags brought into the stadium. USC is recommending that fans not bring bags inside at all in order to save time, but asks that any bags that are brought through the line be clear. Clemson is making similar requests.

“Although extra security measures are being put in place, there has been no credible threat to our stadium,” USC spokesman Jeff Stensland wrote in an email. “Measures are being taken out of an abundance of caution and to remain vigilant.”

It was not clear if the changes are permanent. Stensland said South Carolina plans to keep the additional security in place when both schools meet in Columbia next week.

South Carolina will kick off against The Citadel at noon Saturday, while Clemson plays Wake Forest at 3:30 that afternoon. The Nov. 28 matchup between both schools is also scheduled for a noon start time.

South Carolina’s high school graduation rate ticks up slightly

High school graduation rates in South Carolina inched up over last year.

The 80.3 percent graduation rate announced Wednesday was a slight improvement over 80.1 percent in 2014.

“It’s something that our schools have been working on,” South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman told South Carolina Radio Network. “And it’s not something just in the high school, because that whole graduation rate is something that every teacher is involved with from the time the child arrives at school until the time they graduate.”

The report cards provide a progress report on how schools and districts are performing on the World Class Knowledge, Skills and Characteristics outlined in the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate. The knowledge and skills are reported through test score measures that indicate readiness for college using the ACT and readiness for careers using WorkKeys. The ACT Aspire tests in grades 3-8 are also designed to show student readiness for the college entrance tests they will ultimately take in high school.

“What we’re focusing on is making school a place where students can see the relevance of graduating,” Spearman said.

Under a 2014 law, report card ratings for both districts and schools are suspended for two years while the state revamps its standards and process. The law was passed after parents criticized the previous Common Core-aligned standards South Carolina adopted in 2010.

Districts and schools will once again receive report cards under a new accountability system for the 2016-17 school year, which will be released in the fall of 2017. The proposal for the new accountability system is due to the legislature by fall 2016.

USC”s Arnold School of Public Health gets $7 million gift

The University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health has received a $7 million gift from its namesake to help study how children’s health may affect people as they get older.

University President Harris Pastides announced the donation Thursday from Gerry Sue and Norman Arnold in a ceremony at the school. “That will help us to advance age-related science,” Pastides said. “That is important to each and every one of us.”

The new center will include work in areas such as childhood obesity prevention, chronic stroke recovery, nutrition and food safety, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Norman Arnold said that they want to help people get practical advice on proper nutrition and exercise. “That’s a very important factor in our gift to help so many who sometimes would not be able to help themselves or get help,” Arnold said at the ceremony.

The Arnolds gave $10 million to the university in 2000. In recognition of their donation, USC renamed its public health school after the Columbia developer.

Mr. Norman is chairman of the Arnold Companies, founded in 1907 by his grandfather Isaac Ginsberg. In addition to his business, he also served a four-year tour of duty as a naval officer in the Pacific during the Korean War. He became President and CEO of the commercial development firm in 1963.