Local, state leaders working towards more protections for private daycares

MT. PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – Mt. Pleasant and state leaders are fighting for more protections for private daycares and kindergartens. As the state law is currently written, if someone were to threaten a public school campus, that individual would be prosecuted. But, if the same threat was made against a private daycare, prosecution would be more challenging.

This is because the definition of a “school” within the law does not specify including private daycares.

Mt. Pleasant and state leaders are currently working to introduce a new ordinance and change the language in the state law, respectively, to extend the same protections for all schools, public or private.

“It also applies to things like drug deals and other crimes that can happen, not just trespassing on school property,” said Mt. Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie. “But we’re going to be real specific and more inclusive about what falls under our local law of what a school is so we can keep them all safe.”

A high profile case put this issue on the map.

In 2019, Michal Gorlitzky was accused of threatening a Mt. Pleasant daycare. Now, nearly a year and a half later, prosecuting the case is difficult due to the state law.

At a committee meeting on Monday, the issue was brought up by a representative of the Mt. Pleasant Police Department. Town Council unanimously voted to move forward with the creation of an ordinance to adjust the current law to include private daycares.

Since it’s a town ordinance, it requires two readings. Mayor Haynie says as long as everything goes according to plan, the first reading should be in the March 9th Town Council meeting.

On a state level, South Carolina Representative Joe Bustos, who represents Charleston County, has received the go-ahead from the office of Scarlett Wilson, the Solicitor for the Ninth Judicial Circuit.

Bustos tells News 2 he will be introducing the proposed language adjustment to the state law into the state legislature within the next month.

“I’m gonna go through the state system here and add that language for kindergartens and daycares,” said Rep. Bustos.

Charlotte Pilato, the owner and director of The Sweetgrass School in Mt. Pleasant was surprised to find out protections don’t extend to her school.

“Children are children,” said Pilato. “No matter what type of school situation they’re in, they should all have the same protections. I think it’s a great idea. I fully support closing the loophole so that all of our childcare facilities both public and private are under the same umbrella and have the same protection.”

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