Marlboro County High students petition move of Bennettsville Intermediate students

BENNETTSVILLE, SC (WBTW) – Marlboro County High School students started a petition against the move of third and fourth graders at Bennettsville Intermediate to the high school after winter break.

The Marlboro County School Board voted Monday to move all third and fourth graders to the “D Hall” of Marlboro County High School after months of public forums about the mold reported in Bennettsville Intermediate School.

School Board Chair, Lucy Parsons, was the only board member to vote against the change. She said the hall that the elementary students would be learning on in the high school also has mold.

“There are a number of other problems on the D Hall, but the group that raised cane for three months in a row would not look at facts,” Parsons said. “They would not accept any options other than they wanted the children out of the school.”

A Marlboro County employee told News 13 the petition signed by students was passed around the cafeteria during lunch and has more than 600 signatures. However, Parsons said a petition cannot change the vote of the school board.

“It would have to be two people who voted for it, if they changed their vote, and then two people abstained and then I voted against it in the first place,” she said. “So four people would have to change what they did.”

Parsons said the decision on moving the children out of Bennettsville Intermediate felt rushed. She said there are many issues that were not considered by the board, like transportation.

“If you’re not set up to have a separate drop off that separates school buses from cars you can’t drop off the kids that way because they can get run over by drivers,” said Parsons. “School buses have to come into a dedicated entrance and that does not exist there at the high school.”

Parsons said if a school is not occupied for a year, the Office of School Facilities will require that the school be brought up to code if it’s going to be occupied again.

“One of the things that I find very unsettling is that the children should be studying for the end of course test which is next week and they’re engaged in a petition,” Parsons said. “They’re all overwrought over something the adults have done that wasn’t done in a particularly adult way.”

The principal of Marlboro County High School spoke to the board at its November meeting. He told the board that the high school had enough room to accommodate the students and staff. Parsons said she was told there are not enough classrooms for all of the teachers and that the teachers will have to work from mobile carts.

“Nobody looked into that, this was very much a knee-jerk reaction,” Parsons said about the lack of space.

Parsons said it’s important for community members to speak to the board about their concerns, no matter what their opinion is.

“These other board members needed to hear from the silent majority and not one person came forward to speak the other side,” she said. “What concerns me is our community is going to go down the tubes if people don’t learn to stand up and speak their mind.”

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