Senate panel decides against Juvenile Justice takeover of school

ccope@thestate.comApril 8, 2014 



— The state Senate’s main budget panel agreed Tuesday to keep the John de la Howe school for at-risk children under its current management, instead of having it taken over by the state Department of Juvenile Justice.

The S.C. House had suggested the takeover, frustrated the McCormick school had spent money given in recent years to help make up for recession-era shortfalls. A state inspector general’s report also suggested the school lower its costs and improve its management, especially in addressing low-performance scores.

But the Senate Finance Committee rejected that idea Tuesday.

“Frankly, it would be counter-productive and not an advantage of the school to have that connection,” state Sen. Wes Hayes, chairman of the Finance subcommittee on K-12 education, told fellow senators.

Instead, senators want the school to address issues raised in the inspector general’s report by Sept. 1 and provide quarterly progress reports. If the school does not meet those requirements, lawmakers will take more drastic actions next year, said Hayes, R-York.

But Hayes does not expect that to happen. “I think they’re going to do what needs to be done.”

John de la Howe and Juvenile Justice serve different groups, said Senate Finance Committee chairman Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence.

Students are sent to Juvenile Justice by courts, whereas students are sent to John de la Howe by their parents, Leatherman said.

If the full Senate approves the committee’s recommendations as part of its budget plan, the proposal will go back to the S.C. House, which could approve the Senate’s changes or reject them, sending the proposal to a House-Senate conference committee.

Reach Cope at (803) 771-8657.

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