DARLINGTON, SC (WBTW) – Students in Darlington County didn’t get to observe Monday’s holiday outside of school as they normally would.
The flag at Darlington High stood at half-staff Monday, much like buildings across the state. Unlike other students in South Carolina though, students in Darlington were in school, a decision that had many parents upset.
“Our board of education believes that it is very important that our students get as much time in the classroom as possible,” said Audrey Childers.
Childers, the district’s public information officer, said it was a tough decision to use Memorial Day as a Hurricane Matthew makeup day.
“Darlington County School District ended up missing a total of seven days,” said Childers. “Three of the days were already designated as inclement weather makeup days.”
State law requires each district to set aside three days on the calendar as inclement weather days, but the district had already designated three of those seven. State officials forgave three days, and that left one more day to make up.
“They looked at taking a day during Thanksgiving, they looked at taking a day of spring break, Christmas,” Childers recalled. “They looked at shortening Christmas.”
Childers said other options included Saturday school, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Memorial Day, and an extra day at the end of the school year.
Many parents are upset the board chose to use a day normally reserved for family time in remembrance of fallen soldiers, as an instructional day in stead.
They made their voices heard on Facebook, with one parent remarking:
“The school district took the easy way out, period…It is obvious the true meaning of Memorial Day isn’t understood by the school district.”
It is this argument that Childers said bothers her the most.
“That’s a personal hit to me,” Childers declared. “I’m the proud daughter of a veteran who instilled in me a love of country and a respect for our military.”
Childers said other parents are concerned with what students will do on a day when most may be thinking about outdoor activities instead of their studies.
“They saw it as a teachable moment,” Childers said. “We already go to school on Veteran’s Day and we have programs in our schools for our students to understand the meaning of it. They saw this as another teachable moment so our students can see the meaning behind Memorial Day.”
Other parents were upset the district did not simply add a day to the end of the school year. Childers said board members chose to keep that day in their pockets since they were not sure what was to come over the winter season.
Childers said next year’s calendar has already been modified so that Memorial Day is no longer on the list of possible make-up days.
She also encouraged more parents to get involved and go to meetings where these decisions are made and make their voices heard.