South Carolina Education Superintendent Molly Spearman declared a state of emergency Monday in Allendale County School District, citing continued poor student academic performance.
“With the students’ best interest in mind, I am declaring a state of emergency and will take over direct management of the Allendale County School District,” Spearman said at a press conference Monday at the state Department of Education offices in Columbia.
Three of the four schools in the Allendale County School District are currently on the state priority school list, meaning they are in the bottom five percent academically of all schools in the state. “Districtwide student academic achievement has been at some of the lowest levels in the state for many years,” Spearman said.
In addition to poor student performance and lack of improvement, the Education Department cited concerns in how federal and state money for programs is used by the district. Allendale County School District receives over $17,000 per student in local, state, and federal funds, one of the highest of any district in the state, according to estimates provided by the South Carolina Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office.
It’s the second time the state has taken control of Allendale schools state, the state took over the school district in 1999. Spearman said they have learned a lot since then. The Department of Education also took over operations of two Florence County District Four schools in 2016.
Spearman appointed Dr. Walter Tobin, Sr., an experienced district administrator, to serve as district superintendent, effective immediately. Dr. Tobin will report directly to Spearman and will begin meeting with school and district employees, parents, and community leaders this week.
The South Carolina Department of Education will provide hands on technical assistance in the form of school transformation coaches, professional development, and direct program oversight.