A non-Charleston County student who owns property assessed at $300 or more in the county is entitled to attend the district's schools, including Academic Magnet, according to a state Supreme Court ruling issued Tuesday.
The court's decision made it clear that a child who owns property in the district is “on the same footing as a child who resides in the county.”
A Berkeley County parent and attorney, Gayla McSwain, sued Charleston County schools in 2010 over her daughter's right to attend Academic Magnet High, one of the top-rated magnet schools in the country.
The school district argued that it has the right to establish attendance requirements for its magnet schools, and that children must actually live in the county.
The majority of the court's justices disputed its assertion.
“The Board can most certainly set admissions requirements for its magnet schools and even set geographic priority for available seats,” according to the opinion. “What it cannot do is exclude an entire segment of students recognized under the statute as qualified to attend its schools.”
McSwain's daughter has been allowed to stay at the high school while the case plays out. The district verified students' residency in the fall of 2011 and found 15 non-county students at Academic Magnet High and School of the Arts.
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