WEST COLUMBIA – Lexington County School District 2 is set to restore Brookland-Cayce High School’s accreditation status after hours of employee training and remedial classes and attendance policy changes, said an official from the South Carolina Department of Education.
An audit of the school’s 2021 senior transcripts found that some students appeared to have taken courses more than once, received credit for courses they had dropped, received diplomas despite the fact that they did not have enough credits or had incorrect course codes in the schools online grading system.
But an Education Department official wrote to the Cayce and West Columbia School District on Aug. 1 to endorse whatever the district was doing to correct the problems. Brookland-Cayce High “should be on track” to upgrade its accreditation status from “advised” to “all clear,” the letter said. This raises a warning that required further verification of transcripts before the school could issue degrees.
“It doesn’t affect just one school, it affects all of our schools that have secondary students,” Lexington Two Director of Education Dixon Brooks spoke about the July training session for middle and high school staff. “I was very impressed that the State Department took the time to pull things out of our plan to help us understand why all of these things matter.”
The district of 8,600 students created a year-round system to monitor school counselor transcripts in response to the audit. The district also put middle and high school counselors, registrars and administrators through four hours of training on keeping transcripts.
Lexington Two also updated policies related to remedial classes and high school attendance. For a student who wishes to take a remedial or “credit recovery” course after receiving a failing grade for example, final approval will come from the superintendent. Students who make up lost credits due to too many absences will have to sign attendance contracts before starting the catch-up period.
The changes aren’t the only ones affecting Brookland-Cayce High. The remedial action plan was approved just as Barry Bolen, who served as superintendent of Lexington Two from 2000 to 2008 and acting superintendent earlier this year, took over as principal of Brookland-Cayce High School as director.
“Some of the parents of these kids, I was their principal,” said Bolen, who before becoming principal served as the high school principal from 1995 to 1998.
Bolen told Superintendent Brenda Hafner that he would take the job, at least for the upcoming school year, because the school is “in a bit of a mess,” he said. He couldn’t in good conscience tell her or the school administration that he wouldn’t help them, he said.
Bolen had been retired for 14 years when he became acting superintendent of Lexington Two, following the unexplained resignation in May of former superintendent Nicolas Wade and a $250,000 payout when he had used less than a year.
Lexington Two hired Hafner while Bolen was acting. Previously head of Sumter Schools, Hafner officially took over in July.
In addition to the certification hit, the district saw two of its employees arrested and charged with unlawful conduct toward a child in May. A Cayce elementary school teacher was charged and fired after allegedly assaulting a student with special needs, and a Brookland-Cayce vice-principal was charged after trying to break up a student fight.
Board members showed their support for the Brookland-Cayce vice principal after the incident, and he still works at the school where Bolen will work alongside him.
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