News 2 I-Team: Transparency concern prompts school district to open lottery system to the public

Following a series of News 2 reports, the Charleston County School District announced they were moving the date and would open the Buist Academy lottery to the public.

News 2 Investigator, Rebecca Collett sat down one-on-one with the Charleston County School District’s lottery manager Monday to find out why parents were getting conflicting information emailed to them about the district’s lottery system and find out why there have been so many issues with the district’s new online registration.

Tuesday, the district released the statement about the change. Lotteries for other schools will be run by February 22. According to a spokesperson for the district, Buist is the only planned public lottery. Parents from other schools will be notified by February 27 of the outcome of the lotteries, and they will have the opportunity to accept or decline a seat by March 11th.

Rebecca spoke to parents who got the emails about Buist last week. One emailed said their kids were eligible for the Buist lottery, but a second email said they weren’t eligible.

Our News 2 I-Team took that information to the school district to get an explanation.

Mary Runyon with the Charleston County School District said “it was really just a communication error.”

Runyon said with staff stationed in different offices around the county, someone misunderstood how to interpret an age requirement for incoming Kindergartners. That misunderstanding meant parents who had been approved for the Buist lottery suddenly got an email saying they were no longer eligible.

This wasn’t the only issue for parents across the district trying to use the lottery system this year.

It is the first year parents could apply for schools online, but on the first day to apply, the system crashed and was down for several days.

There were also issues with the upload feature of the system.

This year, 7,800 students applied to the school lottery system, that’s nearly double last year.

To help with the volume, the district hosted a school choice fair and opened computer labs for families to use to apply. They also extended the online application process, but they admit there are still kinks that need to be worked out.

Moving forward, the district says they are making notes and talking to the vendor of the online application system. They say the issues have been a learning process for everyone involved.



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