Forms, Handbooks & Policies




Admission of Homeless Students Policy [PDF] »
McKinney Vento Awareness Brochure [PDF] »
McKinney Vento Parent Rights (English) [PDF] »
McKinney Vento Parents Rights (Spanish) [PDF] »

In December of 2001, Congress strengthened a law giving children and youth in a homeless situation the right to go to school, no matter where they live or how long they live there. The law is called the McKinney-Vento Act, and it gives children and youth in homeless situations the right to:

  • Stay in their school even if they move.
  • Enroll in a new school without proof of residency, immunizations, school records or other papers.
  • Get transportation to school.
  • Go to pre-school programs.
  • Get all the school services they need.
  • have disagreements with schools settled quickly.
  • Go to their school of origin while disagreements are settled.

The McKinney-Vento Act is a federal law, passed in 1987 to help people experiencing homelessness. Part of the law protects the rights of children and youth who are homeless to go to school. The law says that a child or youth without a fixed, regular and adequate residence is homeless. It does not matter how long the child or youth has been without a home. It also does not matter if the child or youth is living with a parent or is separated from parents. Under the Act, students are homeless if they are:

  • Living with a friend, relative or someone else because they lost their home or can’t afford a home;
  • Staying in a motel or hotel due to lack of affordable housing;
  • Living in an emergency or transitional shelter or a domestic violence shelter;
  • Staying in substandard housing;
  • Living in a car, park, public place, abandoned building or bus or train station;
  • Awaiting foster care placement;
  • Living in a campground or an inadequate trailer home;
  • Abandoned in a hospital; or
  • Living in a runaway or homeless youth shelter.

Migrant children, pre-school children, and youth on their own are covered if they fit into one of these categories. Runaway youth can be considered homeless even if their families want them to come home. Students who live in any public or private place that is not supposed to be a regular residence is covered.

According to the school policy, homeless students being served at PACE will have access to the education and other services needed to ensure that an opportunity is available to meet the same academic achievement standards to which all students are held. PACE will ensure that homeless students are not stigmatized nor segregated on the basis of their status as homeless. A homeless student will be admitted to PACE in alignment with the school’s established enrollment policy. Transportation will be provided to and from the student’s current school of origin at the request of the parent, or in the case of an unaccompanied student, the district’s liaison for homeless students.

For more information, contact Dr. Melanie Vaughn at 803.900-0664.

Important Notices

Upon request, PACE Academy, in accordance with the guidelines set forth by IDEA, are required to evaluate a child for eligibility for special education services. A request for evaluation is known as a referral. When the school receives a referral, the school will appoint an evaluation planning team to determine if the child has a disability and whether the child needs special education services.

PACE Academy locates, identifies, and evaluates all children with disabilities who are enrolled by their parents in PACE Academy. A school staff member who reasonably believes a child may be a child with a disability has a legal duty to refer the child, including a homeless child, to the Disability Services Director.

Before referring the child, the person making the referral must inform the child’s parent that the referral will be made.

Others, including parents, who reasonably believe a child is a child with a disability may also refer the child, including a homeless child, to PACE Academy where the child is enrolled. Referrals must be in writing and include the reason why the person believes the child is a child with a disability. A referral may be made by contacting:

Kimberly Creech
Special Education Coordinator
6015 N Main Street Columbia, SC 29203

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are “eligible students.”

  • Parents or eligible students have the right to inspect and review the student’s education records maintained by the school. Schools are not required to provide copies of records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is impossible for parents or eligible students to review the records. Schools may charge a fee for copies.

  • Parents or eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records which they believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth his or her view about the contested information.

  • Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student’s education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):

    • School officials with legitimate educational interest;

    • Other schools to which a student is transferring;

    • Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;

    • Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;

    • Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;

    • Accrediting organizations;

    • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;

    • Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and

    • State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.

Schools may disclose, without consent, “directory” information such as a student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. However, schools must tell parents and eligible students about directory information and allow parents and eligible students a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose directory information about them. Schools must notify parents and eligible students annually of their rights under FERPA. The actual means of notification (special letter, inclusion in a PTA bulletin, student handbook, or newspaper article) is left to the discretion of each school.

For additional information, you may call 1-800-USA-LEARN (1-800-872-5327) (voice). Individuals who use TDD may use the Federal Relay Service. Or you may contact us at the following address:

Family Policy Compliance Office

U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-8520

Citizens and members of the media are encouraged to submit informal requests for information to the Office of Communications. These requests will be handled as expeditiously as possible, but will not be considered requests made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Chapter 4, Title 30, Code of Laws of South Carolina or any other formal legal code.

Submitting a FOIA Request
Requests for official public records made under South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) can be submitted by sending a written request to:

Melissa Rabon, Executive Director
PACE Academy
6015 N. Main Street
Columbia, SC 29203
(803) 900-0664

FOIA provides the public with access to existing non-exempt, official records of a public agency, but does not require the district to generate or create records. Certain categories of documents may be withheld, such as personnel records; student records; test and examinations used to evaluate student or employee performance; records relating to the security of students, staff and property; records protected from disclosure under attorney-client privileges; executive session materials, etc.

All requests for documents are subject to charges based upon, but not limited to, staff time and the cost of copying and printing materials.

FOIA Response Guidelines and Fee Schedule
All requests will be responded to within the time required by South Carolina law. The initial response will notify the requestor as to whether the requested information will be released or withheld due to a specific exemption in the FOIA.

PACE Academy does not charge for requests that take less than an hour to process or less than ten pages to copy. PACE does not charge for the examination and review of documents to determine if they are subject to disclosure.  If fees are assessed, a 25 percent deposit will be required before work will begin on the FOIA request.  Any remaining fees must be paid before the completed request is released.

Charges to requestors are as follows:

  • $0.13 per page for black and white copies;
  • $0.49 per page for color copies;
  • The actual costs of mailing copies;
  • Actual time that an employee(s) must spend in order to comply with the request. The fee for the search, retrieval, or redaction of records will not exceed the prorated hourly salary of the lowest paid employee who, in the reasonable discretion of the custodian of the records, has the necessary skill and training to perform the request.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires Palmetto Achievement Center for Excellence Academy to maintain the privacy of protected health information and to provide individuals with notice of the school’s legal duties and privacy practices with respect to this health information. HIPAA and its regulations specifically exclude any education records covered by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), treatment records of a student over 18 years of age that are made or maintained by a health care professional and disclosed to no other persons, and employment records held by the school in its role as an employer. Therefore, the school acknowledges that the business activities of only some of its components may be considered subject to the privacy regulations of HIPAA.

Under S.C. Code Ann. Regs. 43-241, students who cannot attend public school because of illness, accident, or pregnancy, even with the aid of transportation, are eligible for medical homebound or hospitalized instruction. A physician must certify the student is unable to attend school but may profit from instruction given in the home or hospital. Should an approved student not be provided the medical homebound instruction that he or she is entitled to receive, the student is eligible to have the medical homebound instruction made up by the district. This make-up may occur during the student’s remaining eligibility for medical homebound instruction or may occur after the student returns to school provided the make-up periods are not during the regular school day.

Under S.C. Code Ann. § 59-40-50(B)(1), a charter school must adhere to the same health, safety, civil rights, and disability rights requirements as are applied to public schools operating in the same school district or, in the case of the South Carolina Public Charter School District or a public or independent institution of higher learning sponsor, the local school district in which the charter school is located.

Our Homebound Coordinator is Dr. Melanie Vaughn at

PACE Academy does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, religion, or immigrant status in its programs and activities and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following persons have been designated to handle the nondiscrimination policies. For questions pertaining to Section 504, contact Melissa Rabon at 803-900-0664, and for questions pertaining to Title IX, contact Traci Bryant-Riches at 803-665-2011. For more information, see full policy in the Employee and Parent/Student Handbooks or Click here to download the latest Title IX Policy.

To file a Title IX compliant, please complete this form: Title IX Complaint Form and submit it to Traci Bryant-Riches.

Parents Right to Know Professional Qualifications of Teachers and Paraprofessionals

Date: May 17, 2024

Dear Parents,

In compliance with the requirements of the Every Students Succeeds Act, PACE Academy would like to inform you that you may request information about the professional qualifications of your student’s teacher(s) and/ or paraprofessional(s). The following information may be requested:

• Whether the student’s teacher

o has met State qualification and licensing criteria for the grade levels and subject areas in which the teacher provides instruction;

o is teaching under emergency or other provisional status through which State qualification or licensing criteria have been waived; and

o is teaching in the field of discipline of the certification of the teacher.

• Whether the child is provided services by paraprofessionals and, if so, their qualifications.

If you wish to request information concerning your child’s teacher’s and/ or paraprofessional’s qualifications, please contact Melissa Rabon, at 803-251-9138.


Melissa A. Rabon

Executive Director

The South Carolina School Report Card is one way of tracking each school’s progress in South Carolina. However, at PACE, 79% of our student population consists of students with documented disabilities. Research shows that students with learning disabilities traditionally do not do well on standardized tests. Therefore, at PACE, we track our improvement by tracking students’ reading improvements. We are also held accountable by specific academic goals we set with our authorizer, the South Carolina Public Charter School District. For more information about that accountability measure, click HERE.

You can find the school report card information here.

School-Approved Apps

Communication (

You will need to add the school and your child’s teacher pages.

Phonics Instruction (

Codeword: BLUEWAVE

Math Practice (

Login information can be received from your child’s teacher.

Reading (

Login information can be received by emailing our reading coach, Mrs. Courtney Brown at

The PACE Pledge

The PACE Pledge

At PACE Academy, the social-emotional wellbeing of our students is just as important as their academics. Therefore, we start our day every morning with the PACE Pledge to remind us of that commitment.

Wolfpack Mentality

At PACE, we strongly believe that all members of the Wolfpack community should be committed to reinforcing the “Wolfpack Mentality” each and every day. Therefore, the staff at PACE Academy has developed their own pledge to uphold this mentality.

Interested in Joining PACE Academy in the 24-25 School Year?