Fuel added to fire in fight between Sumter teachers and school b - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Fuel added to fire in fight between Sumter teachers and school board

SUMTER, SC (WIS) - In Sumter, it appears fuel has been added to the fire between teachers and the school board.

A newspaper ad paid for by re-elected school board member Ralph Canty and placed in The Sumter Item says low teacher morale in Sumter is no different than anywhere else and new district changes are inevitable.

Teachers packed the board meeting and said they felt the ad dismissed their concerns about the new K-2 grading policy and teacher evaluations.

"It doesn't seem like our ideas opinions are valued by the the district," said one teacher.

Many are concerned the board supported Canty's position because the district's logo appears in the letter. So did parent Tammi Soles. She emailed each board member and one reply said it's not a reflection of the board. Soles also heard from Canty who replied to her and all board members.

"I did not expect for him to say my question springs from retardation," said Soles. "That's not a word accepted in our society."

"Retardation is a word that is quite accepted in our language any of us can be retarded if we have retarded conversation," said Canty.

Canty says he was addressing his statements in the ad, not Soles personally. He stands by his position on morale, but dislikes the backlash he's received.

"I have created a divisive kind of spirit, I regret," said Canty. "I have a high level of respect of teachers."

The board chair says Canty didn't do anything illegal by including the logo. However, they will discuss as a board next month if this would be something appropriate to do in the future.

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