Teachers to HCS leadership: ‘Enough is enough. We are done with this treatment.’

Teachers to HCS leadership: ‘Enough is enough. We are done with this treatment.’
Posted By @ Dec 21st 2020 8:45am In: Charleston SC Real Estate

MYRTLE BEACH — As more than a dozen school districts across South Carolina will offer bonuses to their employees for the holidays — with some receiving as much as $1,000 apiece — staffers with Horry County Schools were asked for $5 contributions to wear jeans to a Friday “Jingle Non-Mingle Staff Holiday Event.”

“Holiday miracles do come true, as employees can also wear JEANS too! (For a $5 charitable donation),” the email said.

The “miracle” wouldn’t come in the form of a bonus — confirmed by an HCS spokesperson — but instead common clothing that most teachers wear on Fridays as part of teaching online. 

To say that teachers are incensed over the timing of the $5 fundraising request would be an understatement — but it was ultimately a feeling of downright disappointment, rooted in a feeling that empathy from their superiors is non-existent.

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“So, when HCS sent an email about a miracle happening for Christmas, we took a collective breath in. Could this finally be a moment where we are shown appreciation? Do the powers that be finally want to include us at the table? To show their gratitude and acknowledge our efforts?” said Jenny Leckey, a former HCS Teacher of the Year and current high school English instructor.

“The answer is no. Instead, we are insulted by being told we can wear jeans for a $5 donation to a religion-based charity. It’s basically asking us to give part of our paycheck back to wear a comfortable piece of clothing. This isn’t anything against the charity; they do wonderful things to support this community. No, this is about respect, or lack there of. That email triggered a deep seeded feeling of frustration and anger that we have been burying for way too long.”

Leckey wasn’t alone in feeling angry, as an elementary school teacher, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution from the district office, was besides themselves.

“How dare you HCS. How dare you take advantage of us, your teachers and staff, not protect us nor your students like you originally promised, and not thank us properly,” the teacher said.

A note sent to teachers that asked for a $5 donation to wear jeans to a holiday party. 
“Your ‘$5 donation for jeans’ is a slap in the face to your teachers and staff that work tirelessly for their students. With the surplus you have, you should want to show your teachers and staff how much you appreciate them by giving them a bonus and their step raises.”

The teacher was referring to the statewide hold on annual raises given to teachers, which were pushed off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, South Carolina Department of Education and Superintendent Molly Spearman called for the raises to retroactively be paid due to a statewide teacher shortage.

HCS has felt its own share of shortages, with the district confirming that 60 staff members have resigned since the beginning of the school year, including 36 teachers, 20 custodians and four at the district office.

The district spokesperson indicated that they are actively looking for replacements.

The district was recently named the second-best employer in South Carolina, according to Forbes — something that teachers believe to be inaccurate.

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“HCS District Office, you should be ashamed of how poorly you treat your employees. Forbes obviously didn’t ask any of us when you were voted as one of the best places to work in South Carolina,” a teacher said.

“You’re going to lose good teachers if you continue to trample on us, take advantage of us, and not give us the bonus and steps that we deserve.”

The districtwide shortage of staffers has also been compounded by mass quarantines reported on HCS’ COVID-19 dashboard, with 282 out as of 3:50 p.m. on Friday afternoon.

The district also has 165 active COVID-19 cases as of Friday, with it reaching 180 on Thursday.

Staffing shortages led to two middle schools — Conway and North Myrtle Beach — to move to remote learning on Monday and Tuesday.

The sudden staffing shortages have pushed schools to ask teachers to use their planning periods to cover other classrooms, something that teachers are not currently being compensated for. The district confirmed that some principals have had to ask teachers to cover classes over the past few weeks.

One teacher indicated that the district indicated that if they had to skip 10 consecutive days of planning periods, the teacher would be compensated. The amount was not discussed, and the teacher believes it was a false promise since everyone is remote on Fridays across the district.




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