Fact Checker

Does the Pelion Attendance Area offer 4-year-old kindergarten?

Yes. Both elementary schools currently offer some 4-year-old kindergarten classes.

Forts Pond Elementary School offers one full-day 4K class that is part of a district pilot program. However, since it has no other available classrooms on its site, its 4K half-day program is housed at Pelion Elementary School.

Pelion Elementary School offers one full-day 4K class (also part of the district pilot program) and two other half-day 4K programs made up of PES students and two half-day programs made up of FPES students.

Does the district have officers in elementary schools?

Yes. Lexington County School District One is committed to the safety and well-being of all our students and works closely with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, the Town of Lexington Police Department and the Town of Pelion Police to provide a police presence for several hours each day and to address our schools’ safety needs.

Elementary school children see officers as the children come in and out of school at pickup and dismissal times, while they are at recess and even just when they are in the halls and classrooms.

Does the district observe state holidays?

School districts are not considered state agencies.

However, school district employees do get to participate in the state retirement system and insurance system, which makes some people think of them as state employees. Still, school district employees do not accrue leave in the same way that state employees do, etc.

Holidays are another area in which there is a difference. According to the South Carolina Department of Education’s attorneys, the only holiday that a public school is required to be closed is on General Election Day. From the Code of Laws of South Carolina SECTION 59-1-370, SECTION 53-5-20: “Closing of educational institutions on general election day. All State-supported colleges and universities, technical education centers and public schools shall be closed general election day in November of each even-numbered year. This day shall not be considered as one of the regular school days for the year for public schools.”

The Code of Laws of South Carolina SECTION 53-5-10 lists the holidays that state employees are required to observe. (Remember school districts are not legally required to observe these same holidays.)

  • The first day of January — New Year’s Day
  • The third Monday of January — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • The third Monday in February — George Washington’s birthday/President’s Day
  • The tenth day of May — Confederate Memorial Day
  • The last Monday of May — National Memorial Day
  • The fourth day of July — Independence Day
  • The first Monday in September — Labor Day
  • The eleventh day of November — Veterans Day
  • National Thanksgiving Day and the day after
  • The twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth days of December (Governor may also declare Christmas Eve a holiday for state government employees.)

This law goes on to state that public colleges, universities and technical colleges are not legally required to observe all these state holidays. (The rationale: It makes it hard to schedule all the hours needed to meet requirements for hours of instruction per course, etc.)

Graduation —— Does Lexington District One designate valedictorians?

It is Lexington County School District One’s practice not to select a valedictorian or salutatorian at any of its high schools. That practice has been in effect for more than 20 years.

In fact, each year, information about that practice is published in the Student Handbook as follows.

Honor Graduates

No high school in Lexington One selects a class valedictorian or salutatorian. They do, however, recognize their honor graduates.

To be recognized as an honor graduate, seniors must rank in the top 10 percent of their graduating class or earn a final GPA of 4.0 or higher on the South Carolina Uniform Grading Scale.

Graduation —— Is it true that graduates won’t be allowed to wear honor cords, etc.?

No. It is not true. This is just a rumor.

The district reviews this each year as part of our preparations for graduation.

This year, the Superintendent’s Student Advisory panel, made up of seniors and juniors from all five of the district’s high schools and the technology center, also participated in this process. They asked about Girls and Boys State, Girl Scouts of America and the National Technical Honor Society, just to name a few. 

However, in the end, our schools chose to continue the same traditions (which include a variety of stoles, cords, medallions and seals on their diplomas) this year that recognize their academic accomplishments at this year’s graduations.

Some examples of those follow:

  • Students who complete a “major” receive a cord to wear around their neck and over their gown.

  • Students who enlisted and will go directly into a branch of the military receive a military cord from the South Carolina Department of Education.

  • Centers for Advanced Study completers wear a white stole with the center’s logo on it.

  • Graduates of the district’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme receive a stole.

  • The district’s high schools recognize honor graduates in a variety of ways. Some give medallions. Some give honor graduate stoles.

  • Graduates of the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics and South Carolina college partners’ Accelerate program wear a medallion.

  • The district’s high schools recognize National Honor Society and/or Beta Club members with seals on diplomas, stoles, etc.

In addition, each high school holds an annual awards program, usually at night, and recognizes students’ other awards such as scholarships, etc. in the graduation program.

What do you do to keep my child safe?

Lexington County School District One is committed to the safety and well-being of all our students at all times.

In Lexington One administrators and representatives from the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, the Town of Lexington Police Department and the Town of Pelion Police meet monthly to discuss issues related to school and community safety. We have always worked closely with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department and its resident deputies, the Town of Lexington Police and the Pelion Police Department to address our school communities’ needs regarding the safety of our schools.

The district has a Director of Safety and Emergency Services, a full-time hearing officer and a district-level safety team.

Every school has a safety team and a detailed school safety plan which parents and other interested individuals are welcome to review and offer suggestions for improvement. We continue to review these plans annually in an effort to eliminate any oversights and to provide continuity throughout our schools.

We have School Resource Officers at all our middle and high schools and at the Lexington Technology Center. We have officers in elementary schools for several hours each day. Those hours are deliberately rotated during the week and not at the same time of day each day.

However, our schools are just like the rest of the world. From time to time, something out of the ordinary happens — a student brings a weapon or drugs to school or a student threatens himself or another individual.

For that reason, each school has a comprehensive visitor check-in and check-out system located at the front desk in all schools designed to help ensure that no unauthorized person enters. This system runs an automated check on each visitor against a list of registered sex offenders every time he or she visits. Each visitor must check in and out when in a school, regardless of the time of day.

All visitors and volunteers must wear their name badges in plain sight at all times while on school grounds or at school-related events or activities. (Visitors are not asked, however, to check in and out using this system during large evening PTA/PTO meetings, school plays, programs, athletic events, etc.)

Schools lock exterior doors that do not have to remain unlocked and limit the number of access points. All schools’ front entrances are secure entrances. When someone enters a school with a secure entrance, that person must go through the school’s front office and is unable to enter the school without going through that office.

We have telephones in every classroom, including portables.

We have security cameras at each school and on school buses that record not only video but audio.

We have after-school programs or safe havens at most of our elementary schools.

The district’s school counselors and school psychologists use a series of staff development initiatives designed to help staff identify students at risk for violent behavior early and to teach staff appropriate interventions. Each teacher has a written guide to help them recognize early warning signals and tell them the steps to take if they are concerned about a student. They are reminded to stay alert to internal problems, to recognize potential warning signs and to react quickly to a crisis.

Guidance counselors and school psychologists in each school teach teachers how to use this guide.

We remind parents and staff how important it is to maintain open communication with children — about what they are seeing on television, about how they deal with anger and frustration, and about their relationships with other students. If parents feel free to talk with administrators and staff about their children’s problems and budding disputes within the student body, it will go a long way toward defusing tensions within the school.

We remind students that they have an obligation to themselves and to their classmates to bring information about dangerous situations to adults at the school so that we can respond quickly and appropriately to protect their safety. (The safety and well-being of their friends and classmates are more important than the issue of tattling or “narcing.”)

We remind parents and students that they can help make our schools safer, too, by not passing along the rumors they hear to their neighbors or friends; but, instead, reporting them to a school administrator who will then investigate and turn it over to the police, if necessary.

Our staff, students and parents have several tip lines they can use to report crimes anonymously. The district’s Tip Line telephone number is 803-821-1232 and the Midlands Crimestoppers telephone number is 1-888-274-6372.

When will we make up the day we missed due to weather?

Lexington County School District One will make up the Thursday, September 5, 2019, missed school day by using Monday, February 17, 2020.

This is the first designated weather makeup day on the 2019–2020 academic calendar.