Palmetto Unified School District 1 (PUSD)

History |  Overview of the Palmetto Unified School District |  Beliefs of PUSD Teachers
EFA High Schools |  Adult Education Centers
Verifying/Replacement of High School Credentials
Vocational Education |  Employment Opportunities
Board of Trustees Meetings and Members
Palmetto Unified School District Annual Graduation Programs
Norman Vincent Peale said," Enthusiasm releases the drive to carry you over obstacles and adds significance to all you do"

Each June marks the beginning of graduation ceremonies for Palmetto Unified School District's high schools and adult education centers. The students who have completed the requirements for a high school diploma, GED, a vocational course, or Work Keys will be recognized during these formal ceremonies. These students had a PURPOSE which was to acquire the knowledge and certification to help them prepare for life after release. They made the COMMITMENT to work hard to achieve these goals. Despite the many obstacles inherent within a correctional environment these students seized the opportunity, STAYED WITH IT and made the best of the situation. Many of these students scored in the top 5% of all of the students in the state of South Carolina who took the GED test. Their enthusiasm ignited them to succeed.

The professional teaching staffs, who work with these students in an environment that is not the most conducive for learning, are committed to raising the achievement level of students and the student accomplishments are a direct result of their commitment.

If you have never been to one of these ceremonies please take the opportunity when available to do so. They are usually less than one hour. The educational staff and students would appreciate your support.
History of Palmetto Unified School District
Palmetto Unified School District (PUSD) began in 1981 by mandate of the South Carolina legislature (SC Statue 24-25-10), to provide educational services to inmates through a statewide school district. The district constitutes the South Carolina Department of Corrections' Division of Education and is governed by its policies and procedures. PUSD as a sanctioned school district is also mandated to comply with the regulations of the South Carolina Department of Education (SDE). The Division of Education is one of the eight areas that comprise the Division of Programs and Services. PUSD as a school district has a governing nine-member board of trustees as well as a district superintendent.

The purpose of the district is to enhance the quality and scope of educational services for inmates within the South Carolina Department of Corrections. PUSD's mission is to maximize the academic, vocational and life skills of student inmates for their successful return to society.

All academic teachers and administrators must be fully certified in the appropriate secondary area and hold at least a Bachelor's Degree.

The mission is accomplished through the 3 R's:
         1. Rigor (high standards and expectations)
         2. Relevance (appropriate instruction)
         3. Relationships (a positive compassionate climate)
Overview of the Palmetto Unified School District
Division of Education
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) students up to the age of twenty-two who have had prior placement in special education programs in other public schools are screened and placed in the least restrictive education environment appropriate with their custody and security level. These students have a specific written plan of instruction/activities that is referred to as an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). The student is assigned to a special education class at Kirkland High School located at the Reception and Evaluation Center (R&E) until transferred to the designated facility. The high schools that serve this population are located at Manning, Lee, Camille Graham, Trenton, Turbeville and Wateree.

The high schools are assessed on the District's Annual Report Card, which is an evaluation mechanism of South Carolina's Education Accountability System. The report card provides schools and communities with information on the progress of schools and districts measured against the state goal of having South Carolina student achievement ranked in the top half of the states nationally. All schools are rated on the following scale: Excellent, Good, Average, Below Average and Unsatisfactory. Palmetto Unified has since 2002 consistently received the highest grade possible (Excellent) thus earning the coveted distinction of receiving the Palmetto Gold Award for Excellence. The three measures of the district's effectiveness are the gains made by students on the standardized Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE), the percentage of students receiving a GED, and the percentage of students receiving vocational certifications.

Palmetto Unified as a statewide district targets the just under 21,000 inmates within the Department of Corrections. There are nine high schools that serve students ages seventeen through twenty-one. These schools are located at Camille Graham, Lee, MacDougall, Ridgeland, Manning, Tyger River, Trenton, Turbeville and Wateree. Students at these high schools may work towards completing the twenty-four Carnegie Units for a high school diploma or passing the GED Test. These schools also provide adult basic education instruction for those students older than twenty-one who want to pursue the GED or diploma.
Beliefs of PUSD Teachers
  • Participation in religious activities increases pro-social behavior.
  • Learning is a journey, not a destination.
  • Education Reduces Crime.
  • The individual is most influenced by the family.
  • Team work (Together Everyone Accomplishes More)
  • People deserve a second chance
  • All students can learn.
Palmetto Unified, in addition to its ten high schools, also has under its purview adult education programs at institutions that primarily focus on the population over the age of twenty-one.

The program matrix provides a synopsis of education programs and services provided through Palmetto Unified (PU) in conjunction with other educational entities.

The administration, in planning and providing educational services for this unique population, is cognizant that approximately 50% of the inmate population does not have a GED or high school diploma.
EFA High Schools
There are nine high schools that serve students ages seventeen through twenty-one. These schools are located at Camille Graham, Lee, MacDougall, Ridgeland, Manning, Tyger River, Trenton, Turbeville and Wateree. Students at these high schools may complete the twenty-four Carnegie Units for a high school diploma or participate in courses that target the skills required to pass the GED Test. These schools also provide adult basic education instruction for students older than twenty-one who want to pursue the GED.

Many students, twenty-one years old and younger are in need of supplementary enrichment programs to boost their achievement in basic skills, reading, language arts or mathematics. These students are served through Title One labs, which provide specialized instruction focused on these areas.
Adult Education Centers
Palmetto Unified, in addition to its nine high schools, has under its purview adult education programs. These programs primarily focus on the population over the age of twenty-one and give adult learners the opportunity to earn a GED. There are 17 sites that serve only adult learners. In some of these locations our students both work and attend school.

Research demonstrates that increasing the level of education is the greatest factor in reducing recidivism and helping our students become productive citizens once they are released. Palmetto Unified has a unique opportunity to give our inmate students a second chance to earn a high school diploma or equivalent.
Employment Opportunities
Palmetto Unified is staffed with educators who are certified by the South Carolina State Department of Education. Many of our staff members hold advanced certification including Master's degrees and Doctoral degrees. If you are interested in working with our students and have a valid South Carolina Teaching certificate in Secondary Math, Science, English, or Social Studies, please contact SCDC Recruiting. We have opportunities for both evening and day programs.

Employment Opportunities
Verification of High School Credentials
All requests for copies of diplomas or transcripts must go through the SC Department of Education. PUSD cannot provide this information. To request a copy:
  • If you took the GED, call (803) 734-8347 for your GED transcript.
  • For a copy of your high school diploma, call (803) 734-8347.
Vocational Education
Palmetto Unified School District seeks to serve a diversified group of inmates with a number of varying programs. Our current programs offer 12 areas of certification. Each program has its own defined curriculum and all instructors are certified in their particular field. Upon completion of their defined curriculums, students are graded on defined competencies and once finished are eligible for completion certificates. As many as four certificates can be awarded per class upon completion of the required curriculum.

Many of the programs are National Center for Construction Education and Training (NCCER) certified. This program is a not-for-profit education foundation created to develop national standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable, nationally recognized credentials. These credentials include transcripts, certificates, and wallet cards that are tracked through NCCER'S National Registry.

NCCER develops training in over 60 craft areas, offers over 70 assessment exams and has over 4,000 training locations in the United States. (

The importance of being NCCER certified is that once inmates have made the transition out of the penal institution, they now have some type of certification showing they have been trained and duly certified in that particular field. There is no mention of incarceration on the card and the individual now has some type of tangible certification to help find employment.

In addition to those programs offered as part of our classroom curriculum, we also offer certificates in more than 40 other areas. These are certificates based on work hours, credentials, and "On the Job Training." We are currently revamping this program and in the coming months will be able to offer many areas of certification within SCDC. Our current vocational goals have been met every year for the past five years, and we will be "on schedule" to surpass this year's goal.

Newest among these additional programs will be certificates awarded for cattle breeder, animal health, junior herdsmen, dairy milk processer, and calf rearing. All these will be done in conjunction with Wateree Correctional farms and dairy. Each day the dairy processes all of the milk for the entire penal system of South Carolina. The eight million dollar facility is located at Wateree Correctional in Rembert, South Carolina.

With our current demand for vocational training in our state reaching a higher level, we are stretching out to meet that demand in every way possible while giving our inmates valuable training experience to help them make the transition back into society. This training is vital as inmates who are employable and make the transition will become more productive citizens in our society.

Verification of vocational credentials and access to myNCCER can be found at:
Work Keys Program
Work Keys is a nationally recognized job skills assessment that measures real-world skills that employers have identified as being critical to job success. Assessment helps educators to identify and narrow the gap between students' skills and employment needs.
Board of Trustees Members
Trustee Appointed By
Vacant Governor of SC
Mr. Jay W. Ragley SCDC Director
Rev. Dr. Robert J. Reid SCDC Director
Mr. Michael Sumter SCDC Director
Ms. Charmeka Childs SCDC Director
Mr. Ronald BessantState Superintendent of Education
Dr. Cynthia Cash-Greene State Superintendent of Education
Mr. James Quinn (Jamie) State Superintendent of Education
Dr. James Ray (Jim) State Superintendent of Education

Board of Trustees Meetings (10 AM)
Wednesday, August 8, 2018 SCDC Training Academy
Thursday, November 15, 2018 District Office
Thursday , January 10, 2019 District Office
Thursday, April 11, 2019 District Office

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In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (Voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

South Carolina Department of Education Logo

South Carolina Department of Corrections
District Office
1735 Haviland Circle
Columbia, SC 29210-4052
(803) 896-1583