Virtual Charter School Issues Part of School to Prison Pipeline

Posted in ,

A recent investigation by The State newspaper demonstrates that far too often in South Carolina, struggling students are shown the door by schools, rather than receiving the help they need.

In “SC online schools fear becoming “dumping ground,’” charter school leaders, students, and parents describe school districts’ suggestions that students withdraw from their home school if they are failing in order to enroll in virtual school. In other instances, administrators suggest students with disciplinary issues enroll in virtual charter school to avoid expulsion.  Notably, under South Carolina law, students who are being transferred for disciplinary reasons are entitled to a hearing prior to the transfer.

Virtual charter schools have some of the lowest achievement rates in the state, and many of the students who have left brick and mortar schools ultimately drop out or never attend their virtual classes.

Research has demonstrated a very strong likelihood that students who have dropped out of school will ultimately live in poverty, and the majority of incarcerated individuals in our state dropped out of school.

State legislators have asked for a report on this year’s virtual charter school enrollment, but, by and large, many students fall through the cracks after leaving their school district.  Currently there are no limits on the number of virtual schools that can exist in South Carolina, or on the number of students they can enroll.

South Carolina Appleseed is working to improve education outcomes for students in our state and reduce the numbers of students leaving schools without diplomas.  The “school to prison pipeline” is the term used around the country for practices and policies that push students out of school rather than educate them.  When students receive harsh discipline such as school-based arrests, assignment to alternative schools, or suspension and expulsion, it becomes much more likely that they will drop out of school.  Students who need additional help in school also drop out more often when they don’t receive the services they need to succeed.

If you want to learn more about these issues, about getting help for students, or want to be part of breaking the school to prison pipeline, please call SC Appleseed at (803) 779-1113, extension 108 or email us at [email protected].