Former Aiken County teacher says new approach to discipline is undermining educators

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – A former Aiken County teacher says she left Aiken County Public schools because of fear to do her job.

WJBF NewsChannel 6 has taken you inside the Aiken County Board of Education town hall meetings, where parents have questioned school leaders about the discipline process. Now we’re learning teachers are thinking of leaving the district.

“What is going on in the classroom?” Asked NewsChannel 6’s Stefany Bornman.

“From my experience last year in the classroom, kids are smart they know when change is going on,” the teacher, who asked to keep her identity hidden, said. “They know when something is not right and they know when they can get away with things.”

The former Aiken County teacher says 50 minutes of instructional time, per period, only gets cut shorter when a student causes disruptions.

She says before Superintendent Dr. Sean Alford took over she was able to punish students who acted out in her class, and that even at her new district teachers are supported for disciplining students.

She tells WJBF NewsChannel 6 the new approach to discipline, in Aiken County, is leaving teachers feeling helpless.

“There are teachers who have quit mid-year breaking contract, because the stress of the job has gotten so bad.” She said.

The teacher says the packed town halls meetings are a breath of fresh air, for her former colleagues, because teachers feel that at least the community is behind them.

“Would you support a teacher who scolded your child for acting up? Do you think that’s okay?” Asked NewsChannel 6’s Stefany Bornman.

“Yes ma’am. I want them too,” said Wayman Graham, a parent of a Silver Bluff High School student, said.

“Why is that?” Asked NewsChannel 6’s Stefany Bornman.

“Because you shouldn’t be acting like you have no sense,” Graham told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

WJBF NewsChannel 6 has learned that, on Wednesday, the Superintendent met with 50 random students at North Augusta High to gain insight into several things, including discipline.

Still, bad behavior is something that can be found in every school, in every district and the former Aiken County teacher says she may have a solution.

“I wish everywhere would try a reverse suspension where parents have to come school and follow their kid around for a day. I think that there would be a difference in the attitude, because then the parent is upset for having to be at school and the child is embarrassed for having the parent there.” She said.

The last town hall meeting is going to be held at Silver Bluff High School.

It begins at 6:30 p.m.

WJBF NewsChannel 6 did reach out to the school district to see if Dr. Alford would respond. We were told he would be available after the town hall meeting.

Aiken County students started the school year with a new Student Code of Conduct. For several months WJBF NewsChannel 6 have been investigating the changes and how its impacted student expulsions.

We have a special report on Wed., March 1 only on NewsChannel 6 at 6.

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