Poor, rural school districts, which sued the state for more support, want the state’s highest court to continue pushing S.C. leaders to fix K-12 public schools.
The districts asked the S.C. Supreme Court to stay involved in the case Tuesday, two weeks after lawmakers asked the court to end its oversight.
“History has shown that, without court intervention, these children will have no relief," the districts wrote to the court.
In 2014, the court ordered state leaders and the poor, largely rural school districts to work together to fix constitutional violations in K-12 public schools. Those violations prevent some children — especially those in poor, rural districts — from having access to the same quality education as other students, the court said.
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Last year, the court set a deadline for lawmakers to produce legislation aimed at improving schools. But the court dropped the deadline after legislators balked. Instead, the court asked lawmakers to report on their progress at the end of June’s legislative session, providing a time line for enacting changes.
The court said it would review the lawmakers’ report and issue an order afterward.
In their request for the court to dismiss the case, S.C. Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, and House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, said lawmakers agree more work needs to be done to bring the state’s public-education system in compliance with the state Constitution.
But, they added, the legislators’ report to the court, which included proposals that could be taken up later, shows they are “acting in good faith” to address the court’s concerns.
The school districts that sued the state criticized the legislators’ report to the court, saying lawmakers had “19 pages of specific recommendations” for improving public schools but produced only eight bills and passed only four.
Two of the four new laws “do nothing more than direct further study,” the districts wrote.
The districts also said the state failed to include a time line for enacting other proposals.
“Reporting on legislative discussions and study does not equate to reassuring this Court that comprehensive reform has or will occur,” the districts said.