Hundreds of students and parents gather on the State House steps, advocating for the continued support of public charter schools.

Students and parents signed poster to give their legislators, thanking them for supporting public charter in the state.

Jeanette Mullinay supports public charter schools because it allows her son, Bryson Mullinay, to focus more on his studies rather than being a target of bullying.

Luara Harley and her niece Caroline Carter both attended the State House rally in support of funding public charter schools.  Harley’s stepson, who has special needs, benefits from the program because he receives critical attention that he would not receive in a traditional school setting.

Hundreds of students and parents traveled from all over South Carolina to the State House Wednesday morning to advocate for better school choices.

The event was organized by PublicSchoolOptions in response to legislators funding charter schools in the state. Earlier this year, it was unsure if some charter schools in the state would continue to receive funding at all, according to one PublicSchoolOptions spokesman.

Parents and students met at the Sheraton Hotel briefly before they marched to the State House steps with signs in tow.  On the State House steps, students and teachers thanked their legislators for continuing to fund charter schools in the state spoke about the benefits of charter schools. PublicSchoolOptions advocates for unrestricted access to schools of a parent’s choice.

Ryan Gough, regional field director of PubicSchoolOptions, said that one of the issues that many of the parents and students at the rally have experienced was bullying.

“A lot of these families, their kids have been bullied, their kids have been in failing school districts, they’ve had medical issues and they have learning challenges, and they need a different option,” Gough said. “These public charter schools, whether that be a virtual charter school, or a brick and mortar has provided an option that they needed that has been in a lot of cases life changing for them.”

Jeanette Mullinay was one such parent that was concerned about her son. “We decided to do the virtual charter school so that way he’s not getting picked on and bullied at school., she said. “That way, we can help his academics versus being stressed about being bullied.”

Laura Harley, said the charter school system has benefited her family.

“My stepson is in the program and he has special needs.,” Harley said. ” So this program allows a lot of special educators to work with him and his special needs opposed to going to a traditional school where he wouldn’t have that same individualized attention.”