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S.C. House, Senate leaders reject court-imposed deadlines for schools fix

S.C. House and Senate leaders say they will ignore court-imposed deadlines for coming up with legislation to fix the state’s ailing public schools.

In a joint letter Tuesday to the S.C. Supreme Court, state House Speaker Jay Lucas and Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman said the court overstepped its bounds by setting a Feb. 1 deadline for legislation to improve the state’s public schools.

The court also called for the creation of an expert panel – the state education superintendent and representatives of the the state and rural school districts that are suing the state – by Oct. 15 to judge the legislation.

The court issued the deadlines last week, its first action since ruling last November that the state had failed to provide some students, especially those in impoverished, rural school districts, with a “minimally adequate” education.

“After spending two decades pondering the constitutionality of our existing system, the court expects the General Assembly to create a plan in a matter of months,” Lucas and Leatherman wrote.

Leatherman said Tuesday the Senate will move forward at its own pace.

“I intend for the Senate special committee to continue to work in an orderly fashion and come back with the best plan they can for the Senate to consider,” the Florence Republican said.

“Can they accelerate that? Maybe. I want the answer, just like everyone, as soon as we can get it. But having said that, I want it as close as we can get it to the correct answer.”

Reach Self at (803) 771-8658

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