General Information

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Equal Educational Opportunity

The School District of Pickens County (SDPC) provides equal educational opportunities for all individuals. Therefore, SDPC prohibits all discrimination and harassment on the basis of ethnic or racial background, religious beliefs, sex, disability, immigrant or English-speaking status, or economic or social conditions. This policy extends to all aspects of the district's educational program as well as to the use of all district and school facilities and participation in all district- and school-sponsored activities. Please refer to Policy JB in our online policy manual.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), a federal law, requires that the School District of Pickens County (SDPC), with certain exceptions explained below, obtain your written consent prior to any disclosure to an outside organization of personally identifiable information from your child's education records. However, unless you have advised SDPC not to release such information, SDPC may disclose to an outside organization without written consent appropriately designated "directory information."

Examples of outside organizations that may request the disclosure of directory information include, but are not limited to, companies that manufacture class rings or publish yearbooks. SDPC also receives requests for directory information from various media outlets. Students participate in a variety of school-related events and activities that are subject to some form of publicity—from honor rolls to media coverage of special events. Information about and pictures of your child may appear in newspaper articles, on television, in radio broadcasts, on displays, on the school and district websites, or in school and district promotional pieces, including but not limited to honor roll lists, yearbooks, newsletters, brochures, or fliers.

In addition, federal law requires SDPC to provide military recruiters, upon request, with three directory information categories regarding students – names, addresses, and telephone listings – unless parents have advised the district that they do not want their student's information disclosed without their prior written consent, as explained below.

SDPC has designated the following information as being directory information related to a student: the student's name, address, telephone number, photograph, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, awards received, and the most recent school attended.

If you do not want SDPC to disclose directory information from your child's education records to any outside organization without your prior written consent, you must complete the Opt-out for Media & Directory Information Form and return that completed form to your student's principal no later than fifteen (15) days after receiving this handbook. An Opt-out for Media & Directory Information Form is required to be completed and returned each year.

Please be advised that if you do not submit a completed Opt-Out for Media & Directory Information form by the specified date, SDPC will be free to release or use directory information regarding your child as appropriate.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires certain designated components within the School District of Pickens County to maintain the privacy of protected health information and to provide individuals with notice of the district’s legal duties and privacy practices with respect to this health information. HIPAA and its regulations specifically exclude any education records covered by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), treatment records of a student over 18 years of age that are made or maintained by a health care professional and disclosed to no other persons, and employment records held by the district in its role as an employer. Therefore, the district acknowledges that the business activities of only some of its components may be considered subject to the privacy regulations of HIPAA.

School Calendar

A copy of the school calendar is provided to each student at registration.

Opening and Closing Times

Elementary students attend school daily from 8:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Starting times may be earlier at some schools because of bus schedules. Middle school students attend school from 8:10 a.m. until 3:10 p.m., except for Gettys Middle School, which operates from 8:15 a.m. until 3:15 p.m. High school students attend from 8:10 a.m. until 3:15 p.m., except for Liberty High School, which opens at 8:00 a.m.

Please check with your school for changes in opening and closing times. Times may be adjusted at each school to accommodate traffic flow and other issues. Changes are posted on school and district websites.

Early Morning and Late Afternoon Supervision

Students should not be on school property prior to the established time for adult supervision to begin in the morning or after the time for adult supervision to end in the afternoon. Consult the school handbook for these specific times at each school as well as for the locations where the adult supervision is provided. The SDPC assumes no responsibility for the supervision of or protection for students who either arrive at school prior to the time when adult supervision is provided in the morning or who remain on campus in the afternoon after the time when adult supervision ends.

Half Days

On half days, elementary schools will dismiss at 11:00 a.m. Secondary schools will dismiss at 11:50 a.m. or when elementary bus routes are completed. To alleviate traffic congestion, middle schools may dismiss car riders before the scheduled time. Breakfast will be served on shortened days; lunch will not be served.

Parent Communication

Parents can view information about their child’s grades, assignments and attendance through and online system called Schoology.

Schoology will allow students and parents/guardians to check attendance, assignments and grades as well as see messages that have been sent from the school and district. 

Schoology access codes are distributed during the first week of school. If you do not have your login information for your Schoology account, please contact your child’s school.

Inclement Weather Information

During the winter months, inclement weather can result in unexpected changes in school schedules. If snow and/or ice are evident or expected on any morning, district officials will try to announce a schedule change by 6:00 a.m. Information is made available to employees, students, and parents through SchoolMessenger, district and school websites, and local television stations. Because SchoolMessenger uses contact information from our PowerSchool student database, parents should always make sure that the school has correct contact information and should notify the school immediately with changes.

Information is posted immediately on school websites, provided the technology is available. Local television stations usually report weather-related instructions and information provided by the district.

In the event that snow, ice or other adverse weather conditions materialize during the school day, district and local school officials will monitor conditions closely. If dismissing schools early becomes necessary, notice of the decision will be sent through SchoolMessenger. Also, information will be posted on websites and submitted to television stations for broadcast.

The district is a county-wide system serving all of Pickens County with its varied terrain. The weather may seem fine in one area, while other areas are becoming hazardous. Our number one priority in making a decision to close schools will always be student safety.

Smoke-Free Facilities

Tobacco-Free Facilities/Possession & Use of Tobacco – Policy JICG

All persons -- students, faculty/staff members, administrators, visitors or patrons -- are prohibited from using tobacco products and alternative nicotine products such as e-cigarettes in any district building or vehicle or on any district grounds. The superintendent or his/her designee will create the necessary rules and regulations to enforce this policy.

 

This “tobacco-free” designation applies not only to normal school/office hours but also to any extracurricular, before or after school, or any unscheduled activity or event.

 

Students are not permitted to use, possess or transfer tobacco products or tobacco paraphernalia while on school grounds, in the school buildings, on buses, or during any other time that students are under the direct administrative/jurisdiction of the school whether on or off the school grounds. Students who violate this policy will be disciplined as provided in administrative rule JICG-R.