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Parents, board members speak out after part of school program cut in South Carolina

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For years, programs for the UU World of Children schooling have been held in the Greenville United Universalist Fellowship (GUUF) facility. Parents said it was a space where preschoolers and elementary school students with disabilities were taught.

The preschool program began as an idea for the fellowship, and along the way an elementary school program was formed. 

According to the fellowship’s board of trustees, because of a contractual agreement, they can no longer keep the elementary school program in its current location. However, it will continue for preschoolers. 

In a statement, the fellowship explained they have always provided their space and utilities free of charge to the UU World of Children students, which is a separate legal entity with its own board of directors.

In the same statement, they said it was brought to their attention they were not in compliance with the contract that was approved by the congregation that said facilities are for preschool and a transitional year for students not ready to enter the first grade, saying nothing about an elementary school program.

Families with children in the elementary school program now must look for different options. Many of the families who spoke out called this decision heartbreaking. They believe it will change everything for their children.

“For parents with children who have disabilities, it’s a much harder task for them to find a school that meets the needs of their children,” said Jessica Sharp.

Sharp has a daughter enrolled in the UU World of Children program. She is one of the multiple parents who shared their frustration on Saturday, telling us the announcement is leaving families little time to decide what to do next, seeing that the Greenville County “school choice” has already passed.

“In order to find a school placement for her that is going to even begin to support her, in the same way, is not going to be an easy task and school choice ended last week I believe,” said Sharp.

“And there are some magnet schools but those are difficult to get into and again, there’s not a public Montessori option so to find a comfortable experience for our children is quite frankly not possible,” said Sharp.

Now, parents with children in the elementary program are brainstorming options. One idea they have is to find and lease a separate location.

“We have to find a way to very quickly pull together a semblance of this program at a different location, we have to find a location, we have to figure out how we’re going to pay for a building…whether we’re going to rent it or lease it or whatever it is, find teachers to teach the children,” said Sharp.

As the news continues to settle in for families, Sharp reflected on the impact the school has had on her entire family. 

“It has just been an amazing place for her, it’s such a loving and empathetic and beautiful Montessori experience for children and we were so thrilled when we found this place,” said Sharp.

Sharp said she’s unsure about enrolling her daughter in a public school, after a negative experience in the past. But, with this announcement, it’s something she may soon have to explore again.

Source : WBTW