Summer Partee, a former Riverwalk Academy kindergarten teacher, appealed to the school board Monday night saying she is unsure why she was let go.
Partee, along with several other teachers, learned in June their jobs had ended at the public K-12 charter school in Rock Hill.
After an hours-long discussion Monday both behind closed doors and in a public meeting, the Riverwalk school board voted 3-2, with one member abstaining, to uphold the decision to not renew Partee’s contract.
The Riverwalk Academy charter states:
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“At-will employment allows both employer and employee the right to terminate employment at any time without cause or reason. ... Upon the dismissal of an employee, an appeal may be made to the (Board of Directors) within 10 days of notification of termination.”
Riverwalk does not have to comply with state law, which says the board of trustees of public school districts must give employees notice by May 1 concerning their reemployment, said Taylor Fulcher, director of communications for the South Carolina Public School District, which includes the state’s public charter schools.
“In the district’s view, Riverwalk therefore is not required to comply with the Teacher Dismissal Act and is in compliance with the Charter School Act,” she said.
Riverwalk Academy Principal Cora Stepp said, while “Miss Partee is a very caring, loving and well-liked teacher,” she had concerns about the growth of her students in the classroom.
“It’s important as a charter school that we maintain higher standards for our students and that our academic performance is above par in order for the district to allow us to maintain our charter and stay open,” Stepp said.
It’s important as a charter school that we maintain higher standards for our students and that our academic performance is above par in order for the district to allow us to maintain our charter and stay open.
Cora Stepp, Riverwalk Academy Principal
Partee, who had been at the school since it opened three years ago, said she followed the standards for her students.
“I gave everything that I had for this school because I believed in it,” she said. “It was a place where we as teachers could do something different. I was not ever told once that my performance was lacking.”
I gave everything that I had for this school because I believed in it.
Summer Partee, former Riverwalk employee
The next board meeting that will allow public comment is July 17. Board meetings are held at 6 p.m. at 5750 Mt Gallant Rd. in Rock Hill.
Amanda Harris: 803-329-4082