This statutory database is current through the 2003 Regular Session of the South Carolina General Assembly. Changes to the statutes enacted by the 2004 General Assembly, which will convene in January 2004, will be incorporated as soon as possible. Some changes enacted by the 2004 General Assembly may take immediate effect. The State of South Carolina and the South Carolina Legislative Council make no warranty as to the accuracy of the data, and users rely on the data entirely at their own risk.
Title 59 - Education
School districts as bodies politic and corporate.
Every school district is and shall be a body politic and corporate, by the name and style of __________ (a descriptive name may be designated by the county board of education or legislative act) School District No __________ (such number may be designated by the county board of education or legislative act), of __________ County (the name of the county in which the district is situated), the State of South Carolina. In that name it may sue and be sued and be capable of contracting and being contracted with to the extent of its school fund and holding such real and personal estate as it may have or come into possession of, by will or otherwise, or as is authorized by law to be purchased, all of which shall be used exclusively for school purposes.
Alteration or division of school districts.
Unless otherwise expressly provided, the school districts of the various counties shall not be altered or divided except:
(1) By act of the General Assembly relating to one or more counties; or
(2) By authorization of the county boards of education under the following conditions:
(a) With the written approval of the Senator and the entire house legislative delegation from the county involved;
(b) Upon a written petition, signed by at least four fifths of the qualified electors embraced within the limits of each of the school districts involved, which shall state plainly to the county board of education the action petitioned and shall also bear the signed certificate of the members of the county board of registration that the number of electors who signed the petition represent at least four fifths of the qualified electors embraced within the limits of each of the school districts involved; or
(c) Upon the written petition, signed by at least one third of the qualified electors embraced within the limits of each of the school districts involved, which shall state primarily the action petitioned and shall bear the signed certificate of the members of the county board of registration that the number of the electors who signed the petition represent at least one third of the qualified electors embraced within the limits of each of the school districts involved; if such consolidation be approved favorably by a majority of the qualified electors of each of the school districts involved at an election called by the county board of education for the purpose.
Effect of alteration or division of school districts on bonds or payment for buildings of existing districts.
When any school district laid out under Section 59-17-20 shall embrace cities or towns already organized into special school districts in which graded school buildings have been erected by the issue of bonds, by special taxation or by donation, all the territory included in such school district shall bear its just proportion of any tax that may be levied to liquidate such bonds or support the public schools therein.
Alteration or division of school districts; consolidated district for entire county and district formed from two or more counties.
All of the school districts of any county may be consolidated into a single school district embracing the entire county in the manner provided by Section 59-17-20 for the alteration or division of school districts, and, whenever territory embraced in two or more counties is proposed to be formed into one school district, such district may be formed by the joint action of the boards of education of the respective counties as provided in Section 59-17-20 for the formation of school districts in a county.
Consolidation of schools and school districts by county board of education.
A county board of education may consolidate schools and school districts, in whole or in part, whenever, in its judgment, such consolidation will promote the best interests of the cause of education in the county.
Filing order of consolidation.
When two or more districts are consolidated under the provisions of Section 59-17-50, the county board of education shall file a copy of the order of consolidation in the office of the clerk of court and with the State Board of Education. Such filing shall complete the consolidation of such districts for all intents and purposes.
Effect of consolidation.
Upon consolidation of any two or more school districts, all property, real and personal, and all assets of the districts forming the consolidated school district shall become the property of the consolidated district and all liabilities of the consolidating districts shall become the obligations of such consolidated district. Each such consolidated district shall be a body politic and corporate and its board of trustees shall have such powers as are provided by law.
Dissolution of school districts in adjoining counties.
Any school district formed of parts of two or more counties under the provisions of Section 59-17-40 may be dissolved in the same manner as that by which it may have been formed, as provided in said section.
Purposes for which school districts may combine.
Any two or more school districts in this State may agree to provide special services, make purchases, share equipment, develop curriculum, and interchange pupils or educational services.
School districts to provide Department of Education with copies of audit reports.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, each school district of the State shall provide the State Department of Education each year with two copies of its audit report by December first following the close of the fiscal year.
Duty of school districts to defend actions or proceedings against their employees.
In the event that any employee of any school district in South Carolina is prosecuted in any action, civil or criminal, or special proceeding in the courts of this State, or of the United States, by reason of any act done or omitted in good faith in the course of his employment, it is made the duty of the school district, when requested in writing by any such public school employee, to appear and defend the action or proceeding in his behalf.
Reissue of school bonds subject to debt service budget and debt limit.
Bonds issued by a school district under the bonded indebtedness limitation of Article X, Section 15(7)(a) of the South Carolina Constitution and called before the maturity date only may be reissued if the amount required to service the reissuance and to pay off the called bonds does not:
(1) increase by more than eight percent in any one year the amount of the district's budget needed to service the original bonded indebtedness; or
(2) exceed the debt limit of the district.
American Sign Language course; establishment of guidelines.
(A) The board of trustees of a school district may grant credit as an elective to a pupil who satisfactorily has completed a high school course in American Sign Language.
(B) The State Board of Education shall establish guidelines on the qualifications needed for those teaching an American Sign Language course and on a recommended course of study to be followed.
(C) The State Board of Education shall establish a task force to assist in the development of the guidelines pursuant to this section. The task force shall consist of nine members as follows:
(1) The President of the South Carolina Association of the Deaf, or his designee;
(2) A parent of a deaf child in a mainstreamed program;
(3) A parent of a deaf child in a residential program who is currently enrolled at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind;
(4) A representative from the foreign language department of a college or university in South Carolina;
(5) The Director of the Interpreter Training Program of Spartanburg Technical College, or his designee;
(6) A representative from the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind;
(7) Two instructors of American Sign Language, one of whom must be deaf;
(8) A representative from the State Department of Education.
The task force shall be established within three months of the effective date of this act and shall terminate upon completion of the guidelines. The State Department of Education shall provide the necessary administrative and research support for the task force. Members of the task force shall serve without compensation.
(A) The General Assembly finds:
(1) the schools of South Carolina must provide the safest environment possible for students to learn;
(2) teaching positive character traits is essential to improving the learning environment, promoting student achievement, reducing disciplinary problems, and developing civic-minded students;
(3) schools must be encouraged to instill the highest character and academic excellence in each student, in close cooperation with the student's parents; and
(4) elected officials, community and civic leaders, business leaders, religious institutions, youth organizations, government, media, and citizens-at-large must be encouraged to become actively involved in creating an atmosphere which encourages positive character development through every sector of the community.
(B) Each local school board of trustees of the State must develop a policy addressing character education. Any character education program implemented by a district as a result of an adopted policy must, to the extent possible, incorporate character traits including, but not limited to, the following: respect for others, honesty, self-control, cleanliness, courtesy, good manners, cooperation, citizenship, patriotism, courage, fairness, kindness, self-respect, compassion, diligence, generosity, punctuality, cheerfulness, patience, sportsmanship, loyalty, and virtue. Local school boards must include all sectors of the community, as referenced in subsection (A)(4), in the development of a policy and in the development of any program implemented as a result of the policy. As part of any policy and program developed by the local school board, an evaluation component must be included.
(C) Beginning with the 2000-2001 school year, each school district board of trustees is encouraged to require students in the public schools under the jurisdiction of the board to exhibit appropriate conduct, as required in subsection (D) of this section.
(D) When a public school student is speaking with a public school employee while on school property or at a school sponsored event, the student may be encouraged to address and respond to the public school employee by using terms indicative of or reflecting courtesy and respect for a public school's employees position of authority including, but not limited to, sir, ma'am, thank you, and please.
(E) Each school district board of trustees is encouraged to provide for incorporation of the requirements of subsections (C) and (D) into any existing discipline policy or policies or any code of conduct of the school district or of each school within its jurisdiction.
(F) No school board may provide suspension or expulsion from school as an appropriate punishment for violation of subsection (D).
(G) Upon request, the State Department of Education must provide to the school districts of the State information on currently available programs, curriculums, and resources. In addition, the State Department of Education must provide to the school districts of the State information on best practices and successful programs currently being implemented.
Religion and public schools training for teachers and administrators.
(A) Effective July 1, 2001, each school district during annual in-service training shall provide a program of instruction for teachers and administrators in the essentials of constitutional protections and prohibitions as they relate to religion and public school operations. Subjects shall include, but not be limited to:
(1) student prayers;
(2) graduation prayers and baccalaureates;
(3) participation in or encouragement of religious activity by school officials;
(4) religion in school curriculum;
(5) religious content in student assignments;
(6) distribution and use of religious literature;
(7) student participation in religious events before and after school;
(8) religious persuasion versus religious harassment;
(9) religious holidays;
(10) permitted absences from objectionable lessons in religion;
(11) released time for religious instruction;
(12) teaching values;
(13) religious attire;
(14) Federal Equal Access Act;
(15) Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act;
(16) South Carolina Religious Freedom Act;
(17) other statutory and constitutional provisions regarding the establishment of religion and free exercise thereof, as they relate to a public school context;
(18) instruction on how to access legal advice concerning the establishment of religion and free exercise thereof in a public school context; and
(19) instruction on how to access the State Department of Education's guidelines on religion and the public schools on the department's website.
(B) Once a teacher or administrator has completed the program of instruction contained in this section, it is not necessary that they participate in the same program of instruction on an annual basis. However, such teachers and administrators who have completed the program of instruction shall annually participate in instruction regarding updates and new developments in the subject matter contained in this section.