School district accused of cheating students out of program

An Horry County parent says Horry County Schools are cheating kids out of spots in a competitive math and science program, called STEM.

The district's STEM (science, technology, science, math) program is in its second year. Students there take course such as 3D animation, green methods, robotics, anatomy and physiology, microbiology and web page design.

Cherie Hardy is one of 521 parents of children who applied to the district's STEM program. Her son didn't get in.

"It's just really upsetting," Hardy said. "They're only allowing a few handfuls of kids to get opportunities."

Students apply as an incoming freshman. If accepted, you're in the program for all four years of high school. If you're not, there's no chance to reapply in subsequent years.

Teal Britton, Horry County Schools spokesperson, says the district projected 150 students would come into the STEM program. They had 165 students qualify and were invited. Of those, only 127 actually enrolled.

Britton says the 165 students who qualified met the district's "cut score," and they weren't going to let under qualified students in just to fill the 23 open slots.

"Everyone that you invite won't take the opportunity that you give to them, and we weren't willing to go below the cut score for the concept of empty seats."

Hardy calls that unacceptable.

"It just blows my mind why you wouldn't want to give kids the opportunity. Not just for my kids but the 20 plus others."

Britton says there is no waiting list for any of the special programs offered to high school age students in any Horry County Schools. She says there are opportunities for students to transfer and travel to other high schools that might offer specific courses, like a higher level math or science course.