Sumter School Board briefed on SLED investigation of high school

bbunch@theitem.comJune 16, 2013 

Sumter School District Board of Trustees Chairman Keith Schultz reads a prepared statement after the board returns from executive session during a special meeting at district's headquarters Saturday morning.

BRADEN BUNCH — The Item

— Lawyers for the Sumter School District briefed trustees on the current South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s investigation into testing procedures at Sumter High School at the board’s specially called meeting Saturday morning.

As expected, the trustees went into executive session shortly after opening the 8 a.m. meeting. No action was taken by the board upon its return from the 75-minute closed session. Instead, Chairman Keith Schultz read a brief prepared statement before closing the meeting, saying, “In executive session, the board received legal advice from its attorneys on the recent SLED investigation of alleged testing violations at Sumter High School. The district will cooperate fully with the SLED investigation.”

SLED began its investigation into the local high school earlier this month at the request of the South Carolina Department of Education, which formally asked the agency to examine what happened on the campus leading up to and during the High School Assessment Program administered in April.

As part of its own investigation conducted while testing was underway, auditors with the education department said they found several significant procedural violations, and a spokesman for the department described the conditions during the exit exam for high school students as “one of the worst and unprepared buildings to give a test that they have ever seen.”

Willfully violating mandated testing procedures is a criminal offense in South Carolina, and those found guilty can face both misdemeanor charges with a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, as well as revocation of their teaching and/or administrative credentials.

The education department has requested SLED finish its investigation in the next three months, but no definitive timetable has been set.

The board of trustees’ next regularly scheduled meeting is set for June 25 at the district’s headquarters on Wilson Hall Road. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. and is open to the public.

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