BCSD Superintendent apologizes after district statement brings backlash

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Berkeley County School District issued a statement Tuesday after the district’s original statement was “not well received”.

The district sent the original statement on Monday announcing the district would not close its doors for the education rally thousands of teachers across the state are planning to attend at the statehouse on Wednesday.

Several schools across the state previously announced they will cancel classes due to a shortage of teachers for that day.

In the original statement from BCSD, the district said the following:

“Berkeley County School District is a values-driven organization that puts children first. This year our board provided a mid-year retroactive pay increase to teachers as a way of showing the quality of education children in Berkeley County receive is a priority,” the original statement said.

“While the district supports its teachers and does its best to manage 47 schools in one of the fastest-growing counties in the country, it must not lose focus on what children need. We understand and value the passion of our educators. That passion, in all cases, begins with what children need most," the statement continued.

"For those teachers requesting to participate in the May 1 rally in Columbia, we have arranged substitutes or class coverage via employees of schools and our central services office. Our superintendent, his cabinet, and other central services staff stand ready to STAND IN classrooms to operate our schools safely on May 1. Our principals, guidance counselors, coaches and many others are preparing to STAND IN classrooms to receive our children. We plan to proudly STAND IN for our children as needed as we realize the potential impact of this event, even just one day, could be tremendous for some of our families. With 20 Title I schools in Berkeley County, this school district will STAND IN as able to guarantee students who may only receive one meal a day are fed. We will STAND IN for families to help maintain the quality of life for a student who may be in a home with a single parent unable to take a day off from work without consequence. We will STAND IN and hope our employees and communities understand that by not closing, we ARE supporting our children AND the educators that serve them each day,” the original statement said.

That led to over a thousand comments, many backlashes, on the district’s Facebook post and on social media.

A woman emailed Live 5 News and said, “A simple email saying, “We’re open Wednesday.” is all that was necessary. Instead, you sent this email that is OBVIOUSLY intended to DEGRADE and DERIDE the teachers and BELITTLE their thoughts and NEEDS, while promoting BCSD’s political agenda.”

The district issued a new statement Tuesday afternoon where Superintendent Eddie Ingram apologized for the wording of the original statement.

“The spirit in which our statement was written was not well received by some in our community, especially our teachers whom we love, and for that we apologize. We desired not just to state that we were open, but to emphasize strongly our support for our teachers. The use of STAND IN was to indicate that everyone at BCSD is willing to do whatever is needed to allow teachers to participate while also caring for our student,” Ingram said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The over emphasis, which was intended to be in strong support of our teachers planning to participate, read to some as mocking or malice, and again, for that I apologize. Before I was a superintendent, I was a classroom teacher. Those experiences, no matter how fond, are not absent of struggle. For many years, teachers have worked in conditions that are simply not fair. For that reason and many others, I would never support an attack on our educators," the statement went on.

"So to put it simply, we will be open on May 1 for our children and families who need us to be, but our support is and will always be 100% behind our teachers. I encourage any teacher in BCSD to reach out to me directly if you have any questions or concerns about where my priorities lie or the love I have for public education and the teachers who are its foundation,” Ingram said.

You can see a schedule of rally events here.

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