Monday, December 30, 2019

"Forget the S.C. teacher march?"

This headline appears on today, as part of 2019 political news.

This got me to wondering what will happen on May 1, 2020. 

Why May 1st? May 1st is International Workers' Day, also known as Workers' Day, Labour Day in some countries and often referred to as May Day, is a celebration of labourers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labour movement which occurs every year on May Day  (Source:

As a student in the 1950s I learned about May Day. It wasn't ring around the May pole. It was about Red Square and Russia. 

Will the Richland 2 School Board begin planning now to head off any "strike" or work slowdown by teachers in 2020? 

May 1, 2020 will be a Friday, perfect for a three-day week-end of Red4Ed. 

May 1, 2020 will be a scheduled work day, a day of school classes.

Richland 2 should not wimp out, as it did in 2019, declaring at the last minute that schools would be  closed. I can name the 4-5 school board members (included two who aren't even legal school board members) who will support the teacher's walk-out. Care to guess?

The School Board has a responsibility to the students, to voters, to taxpayers to see that schools are open and that regular classes are held. Teachers should follow class outlines and keep their personal wishes to themselves.

There are only four months for Richland 2 School Board members and administration to grow backbones and tell the teachers to stand down on a work day. Teachers should advocate, picket, protest, march, etc. on their own time.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Silent Graduation Honors Student with Autism

Today I came across this video of the 2019 Carmel High School graduation. The first student to receive his diploma was Jack Higgins. It took him eight years, and he graduated this year.

The student body was silent during the entire presentation of Jack's diploma, because Jack has autism and is very sensitive to auditory stimulation.

Watch the respect for Jack from the entire assembly.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

First Special-Called Board Meeting of 2020

The first Special-Called Board Meeting of 2020 will be held on Tuesday, January 7, 2020, according to an announcement on the Upcoming Events section of the District's website.

The starting time of the meeting will be 5:30PM, and the agenda has not yet been published. Watch for the agenda on the District's website no later than 5:30PM on Monday, January 6, 2020 and possibly as early as January 2. If you don't know where to find the agenda on the District's website, drop a comment below and instructions will be posted.

The agenda is probably already known to the Board Chair and the Superintendent, who put their heads together to settle on topics and issues. Otherwise, why would they call a special meeting?

There may or may not be an Executive Session preceding the open, public session. Generally speaking, Public Participation is not offered in Special-Called Meetings. An exception was made in December, when the Board allowed last-minute comments on the re-zoning affecting Catawba Trail Elementary School students.

Board members and the public can suggest agenda items.

Board members can do that at board meetings. It's educational to watch what happens when a board member suggests an item for the agenda of a future meeting. Depending on who offers the item, there may be a call for a motion. If there is no second to the motion, it dies right there. If there is a second, then the gang opposing it can kill it on the spot with a Nay vote. How's that for killing discussion???

The first Regular Meeting of the board will be Tuesday, January 14, 2020.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Special Election Needed for R2?

On December 31, 2019 a special election will be held to fill the vacant seat of a departing board member of the Richland 1 School District. The man accepted employment in Nebraska and resigned his seat on the board. State law dictates when the special election has to be held, and it should have been scheduled for December 24th. That day, however, is a holiday, and the election was re-scheduled to December 31.

Now, what's the deal in Richland 2?

There are two women on the board who are usurping the public office of school board trustee. Two seats on the Richland 2 School Board are actually vacant, but the District and the Board will not declare them vacant. If they were declared vacant, a special election would be held to fill them. (I recall reading somewhere that the Richland County Council would appoint their replacements (not actually "replacements").

Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes were elected on November 6, 2018 and then took the oath of office illegally on November 13, 2018. Thus, they never became legal board members, and the Board has had two empty seats ever since.

The seats haven't actually been empty, because the five legal members of the Board have allowed McKie and Holmes to act like Board Trustees. The Board seems to be relying on legal advice that includes "interpretations" of laws. The laws themselves are clear; McKie and Holmes violated the laws.

The state law is clear. South Carolina Code of Laws Section 8-13-1110 says you cannot take the oath of office unless the required document (Statement of Economic Interests Report (SEI)) has been filed (with the S.C. Ethics Commission). McKie and Holmes got caught empty-handed by a local independent newspaper and then filed their SEIs on December 4, 2018 (three weeks later).

The kicker is that neither has taken the oath of office - legally - since December 4, 2018. That's now more than one year ago. On June 26, 2019 District 2 confirmed the absence of any oath since November 13, 2018, and I re-stated my request to be informed of any ceremony scheduled to administer the oath of office to them. I have received no such notice.

State law Section 8-3-10 states that is "unlawful for any person to assume the duties of any public office until he has taken the oath..." The underlying assumption must be that this mean "legally" taking the oath of office. If you take the oath of office illegally, it doesn't count.

State law Section 15-63-60 addresses those who usurp public office.

Why is Richland 2 School District allowing McKie and Holmes to act like school board trustees, participate in closed Executive Sessions, hear confidential school board and school district matters, vote on expulsion and student suspensions, participate in open sessions, get paid for doing so?

The Board seems to believe that it cannot prevent McKie and Holmes to taking their seats. Of course, it can. It's not a case of "removing" them. They don't have any right to be there in the first place!

One simple remedy is for McKie and Holmes to take their oaths of office now. They can, because they became legally "eligible" to so on December 4, 2018, after they filed their SEIs.

However, this will create a huge problem for the Board, because it will have to review every board vote since November 13, 2018 that was decided by the two votes. The votes of McKie and Holmes will have to be removed, and a fair number decisions will change from Pass to Fail, or vice versa.

And the District will be forced to recover the monies paid to McKie and Holmes for the period when they were not legal trustees. Otherwise, the District will be caught in the bind of unauthorized payments by a public body.

Richland 2 continues to call itself a "premier" school district with a "premier" board. With two people illegally on the board, it certainly is not.

Friday, December 13, 2019

School Safety Zones

During the closing comments of the l-o-n-g December 10, 2019 Regular Meeting, Supt. Davis spoke about the importance of safe driving in the school safety zones and on school grounds.

He reminded me of the afternoon I was stopped in a line of traffic in front of Summit Parkway Middle School. The Richland 2 employee was doing an excellent job of shepherding students across the street safely and watching both directions of traffic.

A minivan pulled off the school grounds and turned left toward Clemson Road. To my surprise and that of the crossing guard, the right-rear door of the minivan was open. This, of course, endangered passengers in the seat by the open door. There was no way for the crossing guard to signal the driver to close the door or stop the van.

I was behind the first car in the line of traffic and could not get close enough to the minivan to get the driver's attention. The driver should have noticed the open door and refused to move the vehicle until the door was closed. While the minivan was stopped at the red light at Clemson Road, someone finally closed the rear door.

Some states have laws with increased penalties for distracted driving in school zones, such as prohibited use of handheld cell phones. South Carolina does not, but should.

McKie interrupts vote AGAIN

At the December 10 Regular Board Meeting, at 1:25:37 Mrs. Agostini made a motion to pull Policies JIAA and JICH from the mass vote requested by James Shadd. After discussion the Chair called for the votes at 1:33:16.

Once again, Trustee-elect McKie interrupted the vote and began speaking without being recognized by the Chair! This occurred at 1:33:28.

McKie should be reminded of the rules. The discussion period between the Second of the motion and the vote is the time for discussion. Once the vote is called for, discussion is over. If she can't think of her question quickly enough, then she loses the opportunity to ask it.

The Chair should remind her of this - that she is to be recognized before she speaks further. And, if she interrupts the voting, she should be reminded that the discussion has closed and it is time to vote.

It is clear that Mrs. Agostini and Dr. Elkins-Johnson are carefully reading and considering policy revisions before meetings.

The vote on Mrs. Agostini's motion passed 7-0.

Forbid private conversations during meetings

The School Board should not engage in private conversations during board meetings. The public is entitled to hear everything that is said by a board member during an open meeting.

During the discussion of Item 11.5, Board Policy JEB - Entrance Age, McKie and Holmes leaned toward one another while Supt. Davis was answering McKie's question.

Does McKie have super-special hearing and mental capabilities, so that she could hear Supt. Davis' response simultaneously during her conversation with Holmes?

Tuesday night was not an exception. Board members often have side conversations.

The Chair should put a stop to them or allow the public to raise a Point-of-Order and request that those side conversations be spoken into the microphones, so that all can hear everything said during a public meeting.

Aside, of course, from the point that it was quite rude to ask a question and then ignore the answer.

McKie interrupts vote on Motion

At the December 10, 2019 Regular Board Meeting Item 9.3 was a grievance considered during Executive Session. When it was time on the Agenda to vote on matters from the Executive Session, after the student matters were decided, Dr. Elkins-Johnson made a motion (59:14 on the video-recording) to hear the grievance from the former employee. Mrs. Agostini seconded it.

The Chair called for discussion. After a pause, hearing none, he called for the vote.

THEN McKie spoke up (59:44) without being recognized by the Chair, and she said that the grievance matter involved a volunteer employee with a stipend.

I wonder what parts of "volunteer" and "employee" McKie does not understand. A volunteer is not paid. A volunteer would not be an employee. An employee would not be a volunteer. Maybe that's why she failed to list her W-2 employment with the District in the bond document last spring. Does she think she is a volunteer for the $900/month or so that she receives for showing up twice a month at board meetings?

That was completely unnecessary, except to hear her own voice and perhaps for some future political reason, because the full Board knew exactly what the grievance was about. It had, no doubt, been fully discussed in Executive Session.

The Chair is overly polite when McKie pulls these stunts, and the Chair should address her interruptions. McKie acts like she is still the Board Chair; she is not.

Then Dr. Elkins was recognized to speak. She stated that an employee ought to have the right to be heard.

Then Trustee-elect Teresa Holmes made a "point of clarity for my own edification..."  What's that? The dysfunction on this board needs correction!

The motion to hear the grievance failed on a vote of 2-5. The Yes votes were Dr. Elkins-Johnson and Mrs. Agostini. The No votes were Manning, Holmes, McKie, Caution-Parker, and Shadd.

REQUEST TO EMPLOYEE WHO FILED THE GRIEVANCE. IF YOU WANT TO BE HEARD PUBLICLY, PLEASE CONTACT ME BY PHONE OR EMAIL. Do not allow yourself to be silenced. I will publish as much or as little as you wish. Confidentiality is assured, if you don't want your name used.

How dysfunctional is Richland 2 School Board?

Last week's Regular Meeting (December 10, 2019) was 2 hours 55 minutes long!

I slugged my way through the first hour of the video-recording yesterday and, before I continue, I will go back over the 26-minute "Legislative Update" that was Item 8.1.

But first ... when Board Chair James Manning re-convened the Board at 6:30PM after the Executive Session, he asked for a Motion. It took a whole 14 seconds for the Board Secretary (or any Board member) to respond. And then she forgot to turn on her microphone. Hello????

At 25.28 into the meeting Mr. Manning recognized Amelia McKie to present the Legislative Update.

The South Carolina School Boards Association (SCSBA) held a conference last week-end. I was immediately confused as McKie began her comments, because she mentioned, "This week-end we are coming from Friday until Sunday we have the 2019 delegate assembly and legislative conference." So I was prepared to hear about an upcoming meeting.

McKie is a Region 8 director of the SCSBA.

For almost a year I had questioned McKie's legitimacy on the Richland 2 School Board. To my knowledge she has never taken the oath of office legally since December 4, 2018, when she filed her required Statement of Economic Interests Report. To me, and to lawyers I have consulted, this means she is NOT a legal Board member. Because she is not, she should not have been seated at the board since November 13, 2018. She should not have served as Board Chair from November 13, 2018 until June 30, 2019. She should not have signed bond documents in the Spring of 2019. She should not be on the Board now. She should not be the Region 8 director of the SCSBA for Richland 2.

The School Board says this is not a Board matter. Who are they kidding? Can anyone then just sit at the board, attend executive sessions, vote on Board matters, receive monthly compensation for doing so, have their dues and expenses to the SCSBA paid?

Then McKie proceeded to describe the conference that had been held last week-end! On Friday night, before the conference started, she said there was a meeting of the South Carolina Caucus of Black School Board members. She made a point of saying that the Caucus is open to all members of the SCSBA. I wonder how many non-black members attended.

There was quite a catfight at Tuesday's Board meeting. There had been a vote by delegates at the SCSBA meeting about an issue pertaining to an SCSBA recommendation on the State's interest in taking over certain school districts. Some Board members felt they were speaking for Richland 2 School District when they voted. Others felt they were voting their own nterest.

In order to avoid violating State FOIA rules, Board members need to be very careful about expressing positions on behalf of Richland 2. They can't just put their heads together at a conference (or elsewhere) and decide how they are going to vote on an SCSBA issue. There is a Board policy about "representing the Board", not just the FOIA rules. If they are going to speak "for the board", then the Board should convene in public session beforehand, consider a position, vote on it, and authorize who will speak publicly for the board (or vote) on it.

There is a serious fracture on the board. At least two members felt attacked in the 25-minute segment.

It would be a shame if they bailed on the Board, because they are two of the three reasonable heads on the board.

Eventually the two illegally-seated persons (McKie and Holmes) on the board will be removed. They could avoid removal by simply taking the oath of office now

Why won't they? One reason may be because the Board then would have to review all votes by the Board all the way back to November 13, 2018 and change decisions that were swayed by the votes of those two people. The longer they wait to take the oath, the farther back the Board will have to review.

McKie and Holmes illegally took the oath of office on November 13, 2018. Twice, earlier this year, I requested the District to inform me if McKie and Holmes are scheduled to take the oath of office legally, and the District has never informed me of a ceremony to swear them in. It is my understanding that they have taken the oath (illegally) only on November 13, 2018.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Administration pulling a fast one?

At the December 3rd Special Called Board Meeting, Board Chair James Manning sent Policy JICI - Weapons In Schools back to staff for more work.

The proposed revision to JICI was discussed during a first reading on December 3rd. Since it was sent back to staff for more work, the normal procedure would be for the staff to re-work the policy revision in accordance with the Board's discussion and guidance, and then present the further-revised Policy JICI for a second reading, not for a vote.

BUT ... attached to the Agenda for tonight's meeting, December 10th, is an unchanged JICI and it is on the agenda for a vote as Item 11.22 "Old Business - Action Requested".

The proposed revision to Board Policy JICI is exactly the same (Draft 19) that was attached to last week's agenda.

In other words, Richland 2 Administration made NO changes whatsoever and will try to float the same old boat past the Board tonight.

The Board should get to the bottom of this tonight and demand to be told exactly how this happened.

The version of JICI being presented attempts to criminalize legal actions and also places adult students at risk of expulsion, even though they are not violating state law. All because of a groundless fear of guns by too many on this district's board.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Is Pepper Spray a Weapon?

At the December 3rd Special Called Board Meeting, a fair amount of time was spent discussing revisions to Board Policy JICI - Weapons.

If you are interested, watch the video-recording on the District's website (and on YouTube). Find the recording and advance to Item 5.23 at (31:43) on the video counter for the beginning of the discussion on JICI.

Clearly, the Board is afraid of guns on school grounds. That's why they already disarmed two employees of the Emergency Services Department.

The question of pepper spray came up. Is it a weapon? Or is it a defensive tool?

Or is it a tool that can be used as a "weapon" (in the eyes of some)?

One board member (well, sort of) is vehemently against guns but doesn't want to cause a student to feel unprotected off campus, if she or he carries pepper spray; for example, when walking home after leaving a school bus.

This is where the line needs to be clear. A gun is a weapon. Pepper spray is not a weapon.

If you catch a dose of pepper spray in your face, your skin will be irritated and your eyes will be irritated for, perhaps, 45 minutes, and, yes, it'll hurt. But you won't be injured, unless you fall down and hit your head or stumble out in front of a vehicle.

During discussion, a student was mentioned who had sprayed other student-passengers on a school bus. That was not a defensive use of pepper spray, unless s/he was being bullied or assaulted.

Revising JICI is like trying to get Jello to stick to a wall. The harder you try, the bigger mess you make.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Seattle's Drug & Homeless Problem

Why is this Seattle TV station's hour-long documentary important?

Because it could spread here. Maybe it's already here.

Watch this KOMO-TV program. The title is "Seattle is dying?"

Yes, it's an hour long. Gather your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and spend one hour together. Then get busy and actually do something about saving your neighborhood, your town, your city, your state, your country.

The problem is not solved by looking the other way. It's not solved by assigning fancy names. It is solved by Decision, Commitment and Action.

Every family, student, teacher, administrator, parent, voter, community member should watch this and find out how to DO something about this nationwide problem. It's not just Seattle. Or San Francisco. Or Los Angeles. It's everywhere.

Hold your elected representatives accountable. If they won't fix the problem, vote them out!

Stick with the documentary and learn what is happening in the tiny state of Rhode Island.

The answers? Enforcement and Intervention.

Watch the documentary. Then post your reaction below in the Comments.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Board Policy JICDA-R Level II

Richland 2 School Board Policy JICDA-R Level II identifies the misconduct of students that can lead to a Level II disciplinary action.

You can read the entire list on the district's website. Need the instructions to find that Policy? Look back on this blog or email me.

Level II is Disruptive Conduct. That's more serious than the Behavioral Misconduct of Level I. See the recent article here about Level I, just a few days ago.

According to the Board, Level II offenses have "... consequences of which tend to endanger the health or safety of themselves of others..."

Look at the list. "Tend to"???

Review the list of Level I offenses. A four-time repeat offender of Level I behavioral conduct "may" have his misconduct re-classified as Level II Disruptive Conduct. Not "will" or "shall"; the word used is "may". Lots of discretion there.

This carries Richland 2 right into the problem at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that resulted in 17 dead and 17 injured on February 14, 2018. When students get away with bad behavior, it can get worse.

Level II misconduct may justify both "administrative consequences and court proceedings".

Notice how the word "consequences" has crept into use over the years. Kids are not penalized or punished these days; now they suffer "consequences". (How many times did I hear in the business world - we don't have "problems" here; we have "opportunities". I was always popular, when I said, "No, we have problems.")

Look at some (not all) of the examples of Level II misconduct:

  • use of an intoxicant (on school grounds)
  • fighting
  • harassment
  • stealing
  • threats against others
  • abusive language to staff
  • simple assault
  • unlawful assembly
  • use of forged notes or excused

People are screaming about the school-to-prison pipeline. Well, maybe if kids learned to obey laws and not commit crimes, they wouldn't worry about being arrested and going to prison.

When crimes are minimized and dealt with an offenses, rather than as criminal acts, my guess is that many kids do not learn.

Level II offenses are dealt with by an administrator. He (or she) calls Mommy for a conference.

The administrator "may" refer to the SRO "only when the conduct rises to the level of criminality or the conduct presents an immediate safety risk." Look at the list again. See all those criminal acts? Again, "may" is used. So there could be internal district pressure to keep down the number of referrals to law enforcement.

Next: Level III - Criminal Conduct

What is special about December 4?

December 4, 2019 marks the one-year anniversary of the date when Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes first became eligible to take the oath of office as Richland 2 School Board members.

December 4, 2018 was the first date when they could legally take the oath of office and assume their official responsibilities.

Prior to December 4, 2018 they were "qualified" to serve as school board members, but they were not eligible to do so. That's because they had not filed their Statement of Economic Interests Reports (SEI) with the South Carolina Ethics Commission.

They did take the oath of office on November 13, 2018, but they did so in violation of South Carolina Code of Laws Section 8-13-1110(A).

Taking the oath of office illegally is the same as not taking it at all.

The law is clear. First, you file the SEI. Then you take the oath.

Until they take the oath of office legally, they are not Board Members.

Yet they are permitted to sit on the Board, attend Executive Sessions, hear confidential student matters, vote on Motions, get professional memberships and travel paid for and receive a monthly pay check.All illegally.

Once they do take the oath of office legally, then the Board will have to review all decisions that were swayed by the votes of McKie and Holmes. For example, when the Board voted on the Resolution to allow removing a Board officer, the motion failed on a vote of 3-4, with McKie and Holmes voting against it. When their votes are removed, the decision becomes 3-2, and it passes.

The Board and the District have never explained to voters why it considers McKie and Holmes as legal board members. According to South Carolina law, they are not. According to the Ethics laws (part of S.C. law), they are not. The District is apparently relying on "interpretations" of the laws.

If so, the District should be willing to say what those "interpretatoins" are.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Embarrassing Pause at Board Meeting

At tonight's Special Called Board Meeting there was one voting item on the Agenda.

After the Public Participation segment, at which a Ms. Parker (if I heard her name correctly) spoke on the re-zning issue, it was time for the board to consider the next item on the agenda.

But first ... Ms. Parker was the only parent to address the board on the re-zoning of two neighborhoods, so that their students would be transferred from Catawba Trail Elementary to Bookman Road Elementary. She said she had spoken with a number of other parents, and they weren't coming to this meeting because they thought it was a done deal; that the board intended to vote to approve.

At the meeting I counted five Board members present: Manning, Agostini, McKie, Caution-Parker, and Shadd. Elkins-Johnson and Holmes were not there.

There was some conversation at the front of the room that was not spoken into the microphones, After the vote on the re-zoning, Mrs. Agostini left. That left four - not a quorum.

There had been a comment made during the board's discussion on the re-zoning issue, I looked around to see who was speaking. It was a woman's voice, and I couldn't find anyone in the room who seemed to be speaking.

After Mrs. Agostini left, I realized that Dr. Elkins-Johnson was attending by telephone. Surprise! Maybe Ms. Holmes also attended by telephone. I'll read the Minutes to find out.

When the Agenda item for the re-zoning was up, Board Chair James Manning asked for a Motion. There was an inordinately long delay. I mean, L-O-N-G. No one spoke up. NO Trustee was willing to make the motion. I believe Mr. Manning asked a second time. After another, but shorter and still embarrassing, pause, Mrs. Agostini made the motion.

What was wrong with the Trustees? Why did they all sit there like bumps on a log, unwilling to make the Motion?

Mrs. Agostini deserves NO criticism for stepping up to the plate and doing her duty. But the others?

Most of the discussion could not be heard. Mrs. Agostini did speak into her microphone.

Mrs. McKie did not, plus she turned away from the microphone to look at other board members while she was speaking. She has said before that she has a soft voice; she knows she cannot be heard. So the board should buy her some voice lessons and tell her to lean forward and speak directly into the microphone.

James Shadd asked questions and made comments. He too could not be heard. He speaks softly, does not project his voice and speaks down below the microphone.

Caution-Parker had virtually nothing to say. At least she chewed her gum with her mouth closed.

It was very difficult to hear everything that Dr. Elkins said. The microphone that was positioned near the speaker did not amplify her voice well.

When the board heard from an expert on Robert's Rules of Order recently, they must have heard the speaker say that they had the right to hear and be heard. Does that apply to the audience and staff, too? 

Board Policy DEBM requires that Board Members are able to hear and be heard AND it requires that telephonic comments be "audible or otherwise discernable to the public in attendance at the meeting's location." THIS BOARD POLICY WAS VIOLATED TONIGHT.

And, if telephonic communications must be audible and discernable to the public in attendance at a meeting's location, then the comments from Board Members also should be audible and discernable!

The vote on the re-zoning was 7-0, if I heard Mr. Manning correctly. When I looked at the board seated there, there were only five, so I thought the vote was 5-0-0-0 (Yes-No-Abstain-Not Voting). Supt. Davis does not vote. I didn't see any hands raised. How did they vote? The count was too fast for electronic voting.

An important item needs to added to the meeting agenda. At every meeting, the Chair should tell the Secretary to "call the roll". Ascertain who is there and who is not there. If someone is attending by telephone, that should be acknowledged and recorded.

If anyone, including a telephone attendee, leaves the meeting, that should be acknowledged verbally and recorded.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Public Participation added to 12/3/19 Agenda

A revised Agenda was published today for tomorrow's Special Called Board Meeting on the re-zoning issue, and a Public Participation session has been added.

The meeting will start on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 5:30PM.

Note the location: Jackson Creek Elementary School, 7150 Trenholm Road Extension (29223).

Following the Public Participation segment, the next item on the agenda is "Item 4.1 Approval: Rezoning Jacobs Creek and Forest Creek."

And following that, the Board will wade through 30 proposed revisions to board policies.

It will be important for all five legal board members to be present at the December 3rd meeting, so that the board has a quorum. Trustees-Elect McKie and Holmes have yet to take the oath of office legally and become official board members. The District continues to consider them as official members and will do so until a successful challenge corrects the situation that has existed since November 13, 2018.

The five legal members are Trustees Manning, Agostini, Elkins-Johnson, Shadd, and Caution-Parker.

If one of them is absent, legally there will not be a quorum, and the expected vote to pass the motion to rezone Jacobs Creek and Forest Creek can be challenged.

Board Policy JICDA-R Level I

In his book Why Meadow Died, Andrew Pollack explained the policies of the Broward County (Fla.) School District that contributed to the school shooting in Parkland on February 14, 2018. In its decision to slow down the "school-to-prison pipeline", administrators down-graded violations and dealt with them administratively, rather than asking the Broward County Sheriff's Department to deal with them. Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (and other schools in that district) were able to rack up disciplinary actions that should have been dealt with more firmly, but instead they ended up with a "pass".

If they didn't get too many disciplinary punishments, they stayed in school. At the end of the school year, the slate was wiped clean and the count started all over at the beginning of the next year.

Students looked like they had clean records. Result? Seventeen died; seventeen were injured.

Now take a hard look at Board Policy JICDA-R. Go the the District's website; click on EXPLORE; click on School Board; then on BOARD POLICIES; then on the left side click on J-STUDENTS; then on JICDA Code of Conduct. JICDA-R is just under that.

Read carefully the list of offenses and the required or recommended dispositions. Offenses can even include conduct off school grounds. Did you know that?

There are three levels of offenses:
  1. Level I - Behavioral Misconduct
  2. Level II - Disruptive Conduct
  3. Level III - Criminal Conduct
This blogpost deals with Level I. Consider the responsibility that falls on the "staff member" who observes, or is notified of, a Level I infraction. The staff member (ex., teacher) is expected to "handle" it.

The teacher is not only expected to teach; the teacher becomes the disciplinarian.

Let's say s/he is trying to deal with a student who has lied, cheated, used abusive language toward another student, etc. The teacher is expected to maintain a record of the misconduct and the action taken. The Policy does not call for "counting" the number of offenses. A student could violate one today, another tomorrow, another next week, etc.

How does a teacher deal with the student who is a constant problem?

The Policy does not require the teacher to report or submit a record to anyone. So the misconduct does not follow a student from grade to grade.

Next up? Level II - Disruptive Conduct

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Ring doorbell - Got one? Getting one?

Worried about what the kiddies will be doing when they are not in school later this month? Have they completed training as Porch Pirates? Are they following the Amazon Prime trucks around Richland County?

Got a Ring doorbell? Have you heard all the promotion about the Neighbors app and how you can send your video to the Richland County detectives? Is your video also going to Ukraine? Maybe along with your WiFi passwords?

Read this article:

By the way, before you register your guns on whatever that program is that the Richland County Sheriff's Department is recommending (in case they are stolen), think about the confiscation risk, if one of those big-mouth Democrat presidential candidates gets elected and decides to make your guns illegal. Then RCSD will know just what guns you have and where they are. When the SWAT team rolls up, it'll be too late.

Just store your guns securely and know where your list of make/model/serial number is.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Board Policy JICDA Code of Conduct

On December 3, 2019, the Richland 2 School Board will consider a major re-write to Board Policy JICDA Code of Conduct. The title should be more fully listed as Code of Conduct and Discipline, as stated within the policy in Paragraph 3, although not capitalized.

Is this all boiler-plate from the South Carolina School Boards Association?

The part of the Code of Conduct and Discipline that may concern parents is JICDA-R, referred to an administrative rule.

After reading Andrew Pollack's Why Meadow Died, I began wondering how Richland 2 distinguishes between categories of conduct in its schools. Was there any way that Richland 2 policies might mirror those at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) in Parkland, Florida? Could the administration of policies here be similar to that at MSD?

Are we plagued with guilt here over the "school-to-prison" pipeline (theory)? For me, it's black-and-white. Don't do crime; don't do the time. Do offenders get to "skate by" from one grade to the next, if offenses of a prior year are written off and forgotten, after a school year ends?

Watch for follow-up articles on Levels I, II and III of school disciplinary offenses.

If you can't wait, go to Board Policies and begin reading JICDA-R.

To find it, go to
Click on EXPLORE
Click on School Board
Click on Policy JICDA
Click on Policy JICDA-R

Dec. 3 Special Meeting - 30 Policy Revisions!!!

The Agenda for Tuesday's Special Called Board Meeting alerts board members to fasten their seat belts and prepare for a lengthy meeting. There are thirty (30!!!) Board Policies on the Agenda for examination, review, discussion and revision.



Apparently, the previous superintendent made some kind of deal with the South Carolina School Boards Association about policies. The SCSBA may have a set of "standard" policies that it would like to stuff down the throats of all the school districts in the state.

Does Richland 2 have the guts to stand up the SCSBA and "Just Say No"?

You've probably heard the phrase "one size fits all". That's well-known in Special Education circles.

Well, one size does NOT fit all. Schools have different needs. Students have different needs. Communities have different needs. There are liberal communities and districts; there are conservative ones. There are rural school districts; there are districts in metropolitan areas.

How can a Board make a reasonable study of 30 policies in one setting? Why do the Board Chair and the Superintendent agree on an Agenda that includes 30 policies for revision? Why don't all the other board members shout, "Whoa, Nellie!!! Slow this wagon down."

How many hours are required by each board member to study carefully the proposed revisions? Does each board member diligently study the revisions and consider all the pros and cons to the proposed revisions?

Here we go - Read JICI proposed revision

OK, folks. Here we go...

The Richland 2 School Board is tampering with Board Policy JICI - Weapons in School.

There will be a first reading on the proposed revision at the Special Called Board Meeting on December 3, 2019. Note that the Agenda does not allow Public Participation. Then board is likely to vote on the revision at its Regular Meeting on December 10, where Public Participation is allowed. By that time they will likely have their minds made up.

How is JICI being changed? Read it on the December 3 Agenda and click on the attachment for that item (Item 4.23).

At a previous meeting Trustee James Shadd made a reference to Federal law about knives in schools, which limits blade length to 2".

This is being incorporated in District Policy. If your kid forgets to leave his pocket knife at home, he risks a felony charge, not just a "leave it in the office until after school" lecture. A pocket knife is a tool. It's only a weapon if it is used as such. But the worry warts on the school board have decided that a knife with a blade more than two inches poses "a severe threat of serious harm or injury to students and staff". Baloney!

More ominous is the proposed deletion of the language in the existing policy that applies to weapons in cars parked on school grounds. South Carolina law allows a holder of a concealed carry license/permit to store his firearm securely in his vehicle. The Administration is proposing to strike that State authority from the Board Policy JICI. Why is Richland 2 considering abridging the right to be subject only to State law?

What the State giveth, the School Board taketh away. Oh, really?

The first time a student (or employee) finds himself in hot water for storing his firearm in his car on school grounds will probably generate an expensive lawsuit for Richland 2.

Does JICI apply only to students in possession of a vehicle, such as driving himself/herself to school? Or does JICI apply to employees, teachers, administrators, parents and visitors?

JICI  does not need to refer to "felony offense, punishable by a fine fo $1,000 or imprisonment for five years, or both..." That's state law.

The only "offense" Richland 2 can be concerned about is a violation of Board Policy.

December 3 Agenda Published

The Agenda for the December 3, 2019 Special Called Board Meeting is now available on the District's website. The meeting will start at 5:30PM at Jackson Creek Elementary School. Thanks to the Richland 2 staff member who worked Wednesday night or Thursday to post the Agenda, after the website was restored to use.

There is no Executive Session on the Agenda.

There is no Public Participation on the Agenda.

On the Agenda is the Approval for the rezoning of Jacob's Creek and Forest Creek communities.

What does this mean to you, if you are a parent of a student at Catawba Trail Elementary School who does not want your child to change schools?

It means that you had better get busy this week-end and contact your school board members by phone, email and in person.

Most of them are going to do what the Administration is asking. Some may not. If you don't do anything, then don't complain afterwards.

I don't have a dog in this fight. I don't have a child at Catawba Trail. I don't have any child or grandchild in a Richland 2 school.

Was the timetable too short for a major decision? Do the parents of the approximately-240 students who will be affected all know what's going on? Were all the options explored? Are you satisfied with the communication from and with Richland 2?

The only reason to show up Tuesday night is to monitor the action by the school board and to hold them accountable. At some point you might want to ask the board to explain why

  1. it made the decision at a Special Called meeting, not at a Regular meeting
  2. it scheduled the decision at a school far from your neighborhood
  3. it did not include Public Participation

I predict this vote on Tuesday night: 6-0-0-1 (For, Against, Abstain, Absent)

Two of those six are not legal board members. If only four legal board members are present, then the board does not have a quorum and cannot vote. But vote they will, and that means the vote will be invalid. But they will call it a valid vote and, when the day of reckoning arrives, the board will have to go all the way back to November 13, 2018 and correct all the decisions that were affected by the votes of the two illegitimate "members".

Resistance (At All Costs). Seriously?

Are Richland 2 students being educated in the conservative or liberal tradition? Or are they being indoctrinated?

Are they being taught to explore the several sides to issues? Or are they being spoon-fed a point-of-view and expected to believe it? Are discussion and debate ("argument") encouraged? Do they understand that to "argue" a point-of-view doesn't mean to ball up their fists, shout curses, threaten, display weapons?

I happen to believe that the vast majority of today's teachers and administrators are left-leaning in their political views and that they do not park their views at the curb on school days. And it has been that way for years, which is why the younger generations do not fear Socialism.

Look at the current reaction of the school board to a discussion of weapons. Look what happens when "gun" or "firearm" is mentioned. By the way, guns are not the focus of this book.

I encourage you to read Resistance (At All Costs) - How Trump Haters Are Breaking America, by Kimberley Strassel. You can buy it or you can borrow it through the Richland Library system. The library was very responsive to my request to acquire the book and ordered it without delay.

Author Strassel is on the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal. She summarizes very well the atmosphere that exists during the presidency of Donald Trump.

Rather than make up your mind about what you think she says, read her book. Understand what "the Resistance" is doing to America. Take a stand. Is this the future you want for yourself, your children, your grandchildren?

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

District's website back, but no 12/3 Agenda

The District's website came back to life sometime today. It was still down this morning, but now it can be viewed.

The first thing I looked for was the Agenda for the Special Called Board Meeting on December 3.

Although the District legally has until Monday, December 2, 5:00PM to post it online and at the District office, board meetings should be announced more than 24 hours in advance.

With the glitch in the website, it may be that someone will go in on Friday and post the Agenda.

If you are interested in the re-zoning issue affecting Catawba Trail Elementary students, you'll want to read the agenda and attend the Tuesday night meeting.

There probably won't be a Public Participation segment. If you want to influence the board members, call them (all of them) or email them before Tuesday. Names, phone numbers and email addresses are on the District's website. Find them on

Click on EXPLORE
Click on School Board
Click on MEMBERS

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

District website is down

The website for Richland 2 School District has been down all morning.

Many organizations will splash a message to alert viewers that they know their website is down. Not being an I.T. person, I don't know exactly how that works. But it's a super service to inform viewers that the problem is known and is being worked on.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Bookman Road Elementary community meeting

Tonight's meeting at Bookman Road Elementary was well-done.

Attendance by parents was light. There were approximately eight parents there and about 15-20 District 2 staffers. Approximately 18 parents attended the first community meeting on this issue.

The District's Director of Planning, Will Simon, presented the reasoning for the re-districting that will result in about 240 students changing elementary schools. From an operations standpoint, it makes sense.

One school, Bookman, has been losing enrollment. The other, Catawba Trail, has been increasing.

The next step is the School Board's Special Called Meeting on December 3. This is when the Board will vote. Normally, votes are not taken at Special Called Meetings; this will be an exception.

And, normally, there is no Public Participation at Special Called Meetings. There is no reason why there cannot be. The Board could put Public Participation on the agenda. Will the Board Chair include it when the Agenda is set, which might be as early as tomorrow (Nov. 20)?

The location for the December 3rd meeting is geographically inconvenient. It's an attendance killer. My suspicious nature tells me there is a reason that the Board picked Jackson Creek Elementary for the voting meeting.

Watch the District's website for the agenda for the December 3 meeting. Hopefully, the District will post it before everyone leaves for the Thanksgiving holiday (Wed., Thurs., Fri.). The agenda must be posted before the end of the day on Monday, in order to meet the statutory FOIA rules.

Parents, if you still have concerns, call and email your School Board members. All of them. Names, email addresses and phone numbers are on the District's website.

The District received only four comments after the November 8 Report was prepared. That was many fewer than I would have guessed.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Richland 2 Re-Zoning Meeting - Nov. 25,

The make-up meeting for parents concerned about the re-districting will be held tomorrow evening, Monday, November 25, 2019 at 6:00PM at Bookman Road Elementary School.

Parents were invited to provide feedback on a form on the District's website. Visit this District webpage for more information. To find it directly, go the Click on Explore; click on News.

Richland 2 is proposing to re-zone Jacobs Creek and Forest Creek subdivisions from Catawba Trail Elementary to Bookman Road Elementary.

The proposal will be up for a vote at the Special Board Meeting scheduled for December 3, 2019, starting at 5:30PM. BE SURE TO CHECK THE AGENDA FOR THE LOCATION OF THIS SPECIAL-CALLED BOARD MEETING. IT MAY NOT BE AT R2i2.

Is it a "done deal"?

YOU can influence your board members by contacting them by phone and by e-mail and, most importantly, by showing up in person. Watch for the Agenda for the December 3rd Special Called Meeting. It should be online (on the District's website) this Wednesday, November 27 (the day before Thanksgiving), although the Board might postpone publishing it until the last minute (5:29PM on Monday, December 2, 2019, which will be 24 hours before the starting time of the meeting).

Read parent feedback via the above link to the District webpage. 

Although the webpage informs parents that they can read feedback received as of November 20, the report published is dated November 8. My guess is that Richland 2 received an earful of complaints from parents and did not update its November 8 Report. 

Page 1 of the Report indicates the District received only 80 responses from the Jacobs Creek Community. Seriously? And 91% of the respondents were against the proposed re-zoning (or unsure).

Read some of the parent comments.

If you have an interest in this re-zoning, be at the meeting tomorrow night.

Friday, November 22, 2019

R2 Board still short two legal Trustees

It was almost a year ago that The Independent Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County reported that Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes had not filed their required Statements of Economic Interests Reports ("Statements") with the South Carolina Ethics Commission.

The first article in The Voice was on December 6, 2018. Reporter Michael Smith had done his homework, and his long article carefully detailed the problem.

It turned out that McKie had not filed Statements with the S.C. Ethics Commissions that were required for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. By December 2018 she was subject to a Decision and Order by the Ethics Commission and was ordered to pay substantial fines and fees for those violations.

McKie was first elected to the Richland 2 School Board in November 2014. In June 2018 she was elected Board Chair for the term July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019. On November 6, 2018 she was re-elected to the School Board. When the election was certified on November 9, 2018 she became "qualified" as a Trustee. But she was not yet "eligible" to be a Trustee.

Holmes was elected on November 6, 2018 to her present four-year term on the School Board.

As a result of their failures to file the Statements, both violated S.C. Code of Laws Section 8-13-1110(A) when they took the oath of office on November 13, 2018.

This law reads, in part, "No public official, regardless of compensation, and no public member or public employee as designated in subsection (B) may take the oath of office or enter upon his official responsibilities unless he has filed a statement of economic interests in accordance with the provisions of this chapter with the appropriate supervisory office."

As of November 13, 2018 they had not filed their Statements. On November 13 they took the oath of office and attended that night's School Board meeting as officials. Therefore, they violated §8-13-1110(A). Thus, they did not lawfully take the oath of office. Thus, they are not legal board members.

On December 4, 2018 they filed their Statements. Thus, on December 4 they first became eligible to take the oath of office. They have not taken the oath of office.legally.

Yet they are allowed to continue to act as if they are Board Trustees. Therefore, they are usurping public office, violating S.C. Code of Laws Section 15-53-60. And the School District is paying them while they do so.

An additional problem for McKie is that she claimed, and was allowed by the Board to claim, her role as Board Chair after November 6, 2018 and until June 30, 2019. Since she was not a legal Board member, she could not legally hold the position as Board Chair. Her signature as Board Chair on bond documents is not legal.

The five legal members of the Board could refuse to allow McKie and Holmes to sit at the board until they legally take the oath of office. McKie and Holmes are, legally, no more a Board member than I am.

By refusing to act, has the full board become complicit in deceiving taxpayers and voters as to its legal composition?

Richland 2 School District has my request to be informed of the date, time and location for any ceremony to administer the oath of office, legally, to McKie and Holmes.

The South Carolina Ethics Commission filed a Judgment for $51,750 against McKie on July 10, 2019. Case No. 2019CP4003809 is languishing in the online court records, with no update since it was filed four months ago. The S.C. Department of Revenue should be the agency that collects on the Judgment by all legal means possible, including attachment of assets, home, bank accounts, automobiles and garnishment of wages (Richland 2 pays W-2 income to McKie as a school board trustee).

Utah school arms teachers

In Utah County, Utah folks are serious about protecting their children in schools.

Read/watch this NBC report on arming of teachers.

When the Richland 2 School Board went the other way, when it revised Board Policy GBEB, was it a short-sighted, ill-conceived move? Not only did the R2 Board take away the authority of two Emergency Services Department employees to carry firearms on school grounds, it also removed the language ("unless otherwise authorized by law") from that Policy.

Although the Board voted on October 29, 2019 to revise Policy GBEB, the revised policy has yet to be published on the District's website.

Richland 2 took a step backwards in the defense and protection of students and staff, when it made its October 29th decision. The policy, as the revised version reads, now makes possession of weapons on school grounds an act of Misconduct by a teacher or staff member. Is there anyone who thinks that will not be a reason for termination of employment?

A teacher or staff member cannot now commute to/from work with his personal-protection weapon in his car and then park that car on school grounds. A teacher cannot leave her pepper spray in her car. Better leave that baseball bat at home. Keep in mind that weapon will now be defined as any item that could be used as a weapon.

If the student policy (JICI) definition of weapon is really to apply to the employee policy GBEB, and then extended beyond employee to contracted workers, could SROs be in violation of GBEB. How would Richland 2 disciplinary action be taken against them?

What Richland 2 needs is a well-thought-out policy to protect students, teachers, staff and visitors.

Understanding that at least five of the Richland 2 School Board Trustees are anti-gun, how are they going to make a decision that allows their charges to protect themselves (and those for whom they are responsible) from an armed attacker?

They might hate guns, but how will they answer this one question?

If a school is in lock-down and a teacher is barricaded in her classroom with 20 students, and a madman with a gun is breaking down the door to enter and harm those students and her, isn't that teacher going to hope she has a gun to defend her students and herself?

If your answer is "No", please explain in the comment section below.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Board Meeting Minutes and FOIA

This week's speaker at the Special Called Board Meeting on November 19, 2019 commented on requirements for Meeting Minutes. The speaker was retired attorney Helen McFadden.

The five minimum things that must be in Minutes are (See 21:40 on the YouTube recording):

  1. Date and Place
  2. Who is present and who is absent
  3. Substance of all matters proposed, discussed, or decided
  4. Recording the vote
  5. Any other information that is asked to be included by a member. "A member of the Board has an absolute right to get a reasonable amount of information included in the record and must put into the record in writing any recusal under Title VIII,: she said.

Ms. McFadden watched 6-8 hours of meetings and has never seen any member recuse himself. She assumed they are doing that. (They aren't, but perhaps no situation has arisen that would require it.)

Recently I suggested to the Board that a statement be included in the Minutes about the superintendent's cancellation of employees' right to carry a firearm at work on school grounds. I had read the Minutes after the Agenda was published and before the Board approved the Minutes, but no member of the Board felt included to request that his statement be included in the Minutes.

When you read the Minutes of a meeting, it is very difficult to know what took 1½-3 hours in a meeting. District Meetings could be much more complete.


At 1:08:27 on the recording Ms. McFadden pointed out that Richland 2 does not have a Board Policy on prejudice or bias, which is applicable to administrative hearings. She mentioned racial prejudice, religious prejudice, gender-based prejudice for matters of prejudice and bias.

Prejudice and bias are reasons for a board member to recuse himself or herself.

Her comment caused me to wonder whether at least three board members might have to recuse themselves from certain votes in the future, because they have spoken so extensively, persuasively and often on behalf of the District's black students. Could their attention to this one segment of the District's student body be considered prejudice or bias?

Ms. McFadden will be invited back to present a second part of her overall presentation. Hopefully, the District will give the public more than the 24 hours' notice of this special meeting that she mentioned earlier in her presentation, when she addressed the requirements of South Carolina state law.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Dec. 3, 2019 - NOTE: Change of Location

The Special Called Board Meeting for Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 will be held at Jackson Creek Elementary School, not at R2i2. Jackson Creek Elementary is located at 7150 Trenholm Road Extension.

Please note this change in location for a School Board meeting.

The starting time (from the November 19 District announcement) will be 5:30PM. This may be the starting time of an Executive Session, followed by the open, public session.

Check the Agenda, which will be available on the District's website on about November 27, for the starting time of the public session and also to confirm the location. Agendas are normally published on the Thursday before a Tuesday Board meeting. Since that Thursday is Thanksgiving Day, the Agenda may be available one day early.

Typically, Special Called Board Meetings do not allow Public Participation.

Perhaps the District would be willing to explain to parents of the students to be affected by this change -

  1. why this board meeting is a Special Called Meeting, rather than a Regular Meeting
  2. why it is at Jackson Creek, instead of at R2i2 or a closer school
  3. why it is scheduled for 5:30PM, which likely eliminates attendance by many parents, who might be commuting home from work, caring for children, or feeding them dinner
  4. why this is being rushed through

Discipline Update

The Discipline Update at last night's Special-Called Board Meeting was fascinating. This portion of the November 19, 2019 meeting begins at 1:10:40 on the YouTube recording's counter.

Why wasn't the room packed with parents, especially parents concerned about a perceived disparity in discipline among one portion of the student body.

One reason that parents weren't there is they may not have known about the meeting. At the end of last week's Regular Meeting, Supt. Davis announced that there would be a Special Called Board Meeting on December 3, 2019. He did not mention any Special Called Board Meeting for November 19.

Surely, the November 19 meeting was in the works and planned. And scheduled. I learned of it yesterday morning from a Facebook announcement.

What does Mr. Robert have to say about Special Meetings?

"The reason for special meetings is to deal with important matters that may arise between regular meetings and that urgently require action by the society before the next regular meeting." (Robert, Henry. Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 10th Edition. New York. Perseus Publishing, HarperCollins Publishers. 2000. p.89)

There was an analyst present who explained the first set of statistics. Unfortunately, he was not clearly introduced by name. Staff then presented some slides.

Hopefully, those slides will be included in the video-recording of the meeting. I recommend that you view and study them.

For example, a comparison was made of disciplinary hearings scheduled during the first quarter of this school year and last.
Q1 2018-2019 99 Hearings
Q1 2019-2020 157 Hearings
This is a 159% increase.

And this slide:
Number of Instances of Expulsions, first quarter last year compared to this year.
Q1 2018-2019 5
Q1 2019-2020 3

Trustee Shadd noticed this and asked how there could be so many more hearings and, yet, fewer expulsions. Part of the answer, in my opinion, is that Q1 2019-2020 is not over yet.

But does the number of Hearings shock you?

Be sure to look at the pie-charts that were part of the presentation. They showed, by percentage, the number of offenses by Disciplinary Level (there are three Levels: I, II and III.) Pay particular attention to the  Levels of Disciplinary Offenses between Elementary, Middle and High School students. These should be on the YouTube and District recordings of the November 19, 2019 Special Meeting.

Read here soon for a discussion of the Disciplinary Levels, as found the Board Policies.

Robert's Rules rule

Last night's special-called board meeting included two excellent presentations. One was on Robert's Rules of Order and the other was an update on Discipline. I'll separate my comments.

The invited speaker on Robert's Rules of Order was Helen McFadden. She is a retired attorney with years of experience in the world of Robert's Rules.

As it happened, my library Hold on Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR), 10th edition, became available, and I picked it up on the way into the meeting.

Hopefully, Ms. McFadden's remarks were recorded and will be available on YouTube and on the District's website later this week.

Toward the end of her presentation, on a slide titled "Other Issues" was a bullet-point that read, "Ability to hear and be heard". That point was not discussed, and I wondered whether it applied to each board member (or member of a public body) or if it meant the audience.

Beginning remarks by Board Chair Manning and Supt. Davis were loud and clear. They got up close to their microphones and spoke into them, causing their voices to be amplified and audible throughout the room. They forgot to ask Ms. McFadden to do likewise at her microphone, and the few in the audience (four, plus a second speaker) seated behind her could be seen on the laptops and phones during portions of her remarks. Was that because they could not hear her?

One topic she did cover was the Quorum for a meeting.

When the meeting started, there were six at the head table, plus Supt. Davis. Trustee Elkins-Johnson was absent. But you wouldn't have known it, because no roll call was taken.

Before the meeting began, I had looked up Roll Call in RONR to learn what Mr. Robert had to say about it. It's found under Optional Headings, and it apparently is not required. If Roll Call is taken, its place in the Agenda would be at the end of opening ceremonies. The board could place it elsewhere. The logical place, in my opinion, would be right after the meeting is called to order.

Why would it have been important last night?

There are seven positions as Board members. With the ongoing controversy about the legitimacy of two elected persons, this could mean that, to have a quorum, all five of the legal members would have to be in attendance. Without Trustee Elkins-Johnson last night, there was not a quorum. Trustees-elect McKie and Holmes are not yet legal, official members of the Board, because they have not taken the oath of office since filing their Statements of Economic Interest with the South Carolina Ethics Commission since December 4, 2018. As soon as they do take the oath of office, they will be legal school board members.

But they were there and seated, and the District considers them as members. So six were present; a quorum is five.

At 6:43PM Amelia McKie quietly left the meeting. This left five present - exactly a quorum.

Then, at 7:41PM Teresa Holmes left the meeting. This left four members attending - less than a quorum.

What would Ms. McFadden have counseled the Board to do at that time? Should there have been a statement by the Board Chair that the official Special-Called Board Meeting was over, because a quorum was no longer present? Should that change in quorum-status have been recognized? No votes were scheduled. Can the Board receive information in unofficial session?

This is where a Roll Call is important. A formal acknowledgement of official members coming and going. It can be done with a simple statement to the public.

When it was time to close the meeting after the Discipline Update, a Motion to Adjourn was made, seconded and voted upon. Except the Board's vote is ineffective, because there was no quorum.

If Ms. McFadden returns for further discussion of Robert's Rules of Order, perhaps she will clarify what to do when a quorum is no longer present. Does the Board have to sit there for a week until the next meeting?

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Special Called Board Meeting - TODAY

At last week's Regular Board Meeting Supt. Davis announced a Special Called Board Meeting for December 3, 2019.

Today I read a Facebook message about a Special Called Board Meeting for TODAY.

I wondered immediately whether it might concern school safety issues (it doesn't), in view of last week's threatened shooting involving Ridge View High School. There was an article in The State but never any follow-up.

The Board will convene at 5:00PM and go right into Executive Session. Two matters will get their attention. 1. Contractual Matter Regarding Regarding Energy Management Performance Contract and 2. Litigation Update

The public portion of today's Special Called Board Meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:00PM.

No Public Participation Segment is planned.

"New Business - No Action Requested" will include two topics: Parliamentary Procedure and Discipline Update.

My reservation for Robert's Rules of Order is ready for pick-up, so I'll grab it on the way into the meeting. I wonder whether my harping on the need for a Parliamentarian has done some good.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Becoming a Premier Board

How can the Richland 2 School Board become the "premier" board that the superintendent and some of the members talk about from time to time?

Some that come to my mind are:

* Require that Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes take the oath of office, now that they are eligible to do so, and become legitimate members of the school board. The Board has operated with only five legal members since November 6, 2018.

* Control the duration of semi-monthly meetings better, so that they do not exceed 90 minutes. Set time limits for the Moment of Inspiration, Recognition, for school focus and for staff presentations.

* Educate board members to speak clearly, loudly enough, and with purpose to their remarks. Eliminate slow, rambling remarks.

* Coach board members to eliminate grand-standing. Students in elementary school might be called "children"; middle and high schools have "students".

* Coach board members to cease usurping the authority of the Chair with lengthy expressions of appreciation to staff and others. Brief thanks to specific personnel are fine, but it's not necessary to name everyone in the room. The Board Chair should be the one to express appreciation to teachers and staff as a group, unless he designates it. Most staff members attending are required or expected to be there as part of their jobs, and their pay includes their attendance.

* The audience or staff doesn't need to be blessed for attending. Save that for church or personal conversation.

* Board members should speak only for themselves when expressing positions or opinions. For one to say that she speaks for all Board members is a statement easily suspected as not true. By keeping remarks brief and specific, there will be less chance for embarrassing mistakes.

Do you have suggestionsfor the Board? Post them in comments and email them to the Board Chair, James Manning, at

Change in GBEB increases risk to students, staff

When the School Board tinkered with Board Policy GBEB for three meetings and finally settled the matter (temporarily, let's hope) on October 29, 2019, it unwittingly increased risks for students and employees.

How did that happen?

In October Trustee Elkins-Johnson had said that she received an anonymous letter that informed her of two Richland 2 employees who were carrying firearms at work.

On September 24 I had addressed the Board after spotting a man in civilian clothing in the board room who was carrying a concealed semi-automatic pistol in a holster under his sweatshirt. It turned out he was the Assistant Manager of the Emergency Services Department of Richland Two.

The Superintendent knew he was armed, because he was authorized to carry. But apparently not one Board member knew it.

Instead of taking ownership of the decision to authorize the two Emergency Services Department employees to carry, the Board now forbids any employee to carry.

What never was spoken of was the protection provided to students and staff by these two employees, should they interrupt an incident when someone was threatening harm to someone else on school grounds. As civilians, the two employees are not Security and they are not the police. They could lawfully use their firearms only in self-defense or to defend another person.

Several members of the board, including the two trustees-elect who have never become legal members of the board, almost go into shock at the mention of "firearm" or "gun". I suspect that none of them has ever had a gun pointed at them or has had to defend someone else.

I have two questions for each board member:

1. If you were a teacher and were barricaded in your classroom with 20 students and some madman with a gun was trying to break down your classroom door, wouldn't you wish you had a gun and knew how to use it?

2. If you are a parent, if a madman with a gun is trying to break into your child's classroom, won't you wish your teacher has a gun and knows how to use it?

Recommended reading:
Why Meadow Died, by Andrew Pollack
From Luby's to the Legislature, by Suzanna Gratia Hupp (don't miss the last 3-4 pages)

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Ga. School District Arms Teachers

Compare the response at Laurens County, Georgia to the February 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida with the response of the Richland 2 School District.

CBS46 News reported on November 13, 2019 with this headline:

Locked and loaded: CBS46 goes inside the first Georgia school district to arm its teachers

Read the story here.

What happened at the Richland 2 School Board meeting on February 27, 2018, when I proposed to the Board that it survey teachers, staff, parents and community members on the topic of arming teachers and staff?

You can view my remarks to the Board on the YouTube recording of the February 27, 2018 meeting here. Fast-forward to 30:05 on the counter to hear my comments.

What was the response from the Board? Nothing. Zip. Nada.

The CBS46 article reads, in part, "Laurens County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Dan Brigman spearheaded the initiative in 2018..."

Although then-Board Chair Craig Plank said in his remarks introducing the Public Participation segment that "...someone from the District office will be reaching out to you at the conclusion of your remarks or at a later date..." No one contacted me until after I emailed Mr. Plank to let him know that I had not been contacted. Very quickly thereafter, Supt. Davis called to tell me there would be no survey. I wondered when the Board decided that!

The article about the Georgia school district continued, "After weeks of research and planning, the initiative was voted on by the Board of Education in April of 2018. It passed unanimously..."

Should this be considered in Richland 2? Contact your elected Board members.

And post your comment below. Unless you assemble with other concerned parents and voters here, nothing will change.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

SRO Statistics for Richland 2

Are you interested in the School Resource Officer statistics for Richland 2 schools?

Today I was searching for more news about the threatened shooting at Ridge View High School that hit the local news on Wednesday, November 13, 2019. If you can find it, good luck. There seems to be nothing further in the new about that.

But what I did find was the Richland County Sheriff's Department's "2017-2018 SRO Program Arrest Report". The numbers at the end of the URL (080519) may indicate the date - August 5, 2019" - when the report was filed online by the Sheriff's Department.

This report includes information for all Richland County Schools, not just Richland 2.

As you read the report, keep in Andrew Pollock's book, Why Meadow Died.

The Youth Arbitration Program appears to be RCSD's answer to questions about the school-to-prison pipeline" that some people are all worried about.

I have a simple solution to doing away with such a pipeline. Teach kids not to do the crime. Then they won't have to be worried about doing the time.

Read about a deputy's "discretion" to "exercise every available diversionary option".

In the 2017-2018 school year RCSD deputies arrested 132 Richland 2 students.

One hundred thirty-two. 132. Only 132. How much did the State of South Carolina and Richland 2 spend per arrest? I don't have that answer, but RCSD and Richland 2 do.

At a recent school board meeting the Richland 2 put out cost figures per SRO. $130,000 per deputy PLUS about $55,000 in operating costs per deputy.

I'll venture a guess that not two dozen people in Richland 2 know about this report.

R2 Teachers - GOTCHA!

How many Richland 2 teachers and staff members became subject to Misconduct on October 29, 2019, when the School Board revised Board Policy GBEB?

Teachers should be lined up ten deep at future Board meetings, until the Board further revises GBEB and removes the sledge hammer now being held over the heads of all employees.

Why? Because, when you show up on-time (ha! even early) for work and park on school district grounds, you will very likely be violating GBEB. You will most likely be in possession of a weapon.

What's a "weapon"?

The Board inserted this addition to GBEB on October 29, 2019, without discussion. ""(See policy JICI for items categorized as weapons.)" 

How does JICI define "weapon"? It is "any item capable of inflicting injury or harm to persons or property when that item is not used in relation to a normal school activity at a scheduled time for the student. No vehicles parked on school property may contain firearms..."

The Policy does not say that you have to use such item as a weapon. It says that possession of such an item is the underlying cause. What do you have, when you arrive at school? Keys? Metal fingernail file? Hair spray? Tire iron? Golf club? Ballpoint pen? Sharpened No. 2 pencil? (Fill in the blank) Any of these could be used as a weapon. Right?

And you'd better leave your firearm at home, even if you have a South Carolina Concealed Weapons Permit. Because the Board stripped "unless otherwise authorized by law" from Policy GBEB.

Of course, you might try to defend yourself by saying, "But Policy JICI applies only to students." See how far that gets you.

Teachers, now is the time to wake up and dispute GBEB. Don't wait until one of you is caught up by it.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Re-zoning to affect Catawba Trail Elementary

At the end of the November 12, 2019 Board meeting, Supt. Davis mentioned (2:10:09 on the video-recording) that Richland 2 will hold a second public community meeting to get feedback on the re-zoning of two subdivisions.

The make-up meeting for parents concerned about the re-districting will be held on Monday, November 25, 2019 at 6:00PM at Bookman Road Elementary School.

Parents also can provide feedback on a form on the District's website. Visit this District webpage for more information. To find it directly, go the Click on Explore; click on News.

Richland 2 is proposing to re-zone Jacobs Creek and Forest Creek subdivisions from Catawba Trail Elementary to Bookman Road Elementary.

The proposal will be up for a vote at the Special Board Meeting scheduled for December 3, 2019, starting at 5:30PM.

NOTE: There is commonly no Public Participation segment scheduled at Special Board Meetings, and there has commonly been no voting by the Board at Special-Called Meetings. This appears to represent a change in Board practice.

No announcement of the November 25th meeting is on the Catawba Trail Elementary School calendar.

What are "wheels in a cog"?

Appreciation should be expressed to Trustees Shadd and Elkins-Johnson for not wasting the audience's time (and the time of others on the board) with useless comments during the Board & Superintendent's Comments portion at the end of the November 12, 2019 School Board meeting. And thanks to Trustee Agostini for her concise comments, which were clear and direct.

Trustee-elect Holmes wanted all to know that she has never lumped children together.

The prize last week goes to Trustee-elect Amelia McKie for telling all, as she proceeded to ramble through thanking just about everybody on the District staff, that "there are a lot of wheels in the cog". You can hear it for yourself at 2:07:13 on the YouTube recording.

Does she really need to hear her own voice? Thanking everyone for "taking care of our babies"??? What's wrong with just "Have a good evening" at the end of a 2-hour-plus meeting?

Citizens' Arrest

It worked in Clark County, Illinois. Could it work in Richland County, South Carolina?

A watchdog group performed a citizens' arrest on members of the Clark County Park District Board in 2014 for violating the Illinois Open Meetings Act "by not allowing the public to speak."

The sheriff showed up and did not halt the citizens' arrest.

Could it happen here?

Two trustees-elect of the Richland 2 School Board have never legally taken the oath of office. By sitting at the Board they are usurping public office, which is a crime under South Carolina Code of Laws Section 15-63-60.

Appeals to the Richland County Sheriff, SLED and the S.C. Attorney General's Office have not (yet) resulted in enforcement of South Carolina law.

One internet reference explains the use of a militia to enforce this law. 

The major problem with the two trustees-elect could be resolved in 60 seconds by their raising their right hands and taking the oath of office - legally. They became eligible to do so on December 4, 2018, after they filed the required Statements of Economic Interests with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. (They took the oath illegally on November 13, 2018.)

If they ever do take the oath legally, then the School District will have to review every decision made on and after November 13, 2018 (which in itself was an illegal Board meeting, because the term-of-office of the four elected on November 6, 2018 would not begin until November 16, 2018, one week after it was certified by the Richland County Board of Elections). Trustees-elect McKie and Holmes have voted on many Motions, and there were times when their votes swayed the decision one way or the other. All those votes will have to be corrected.

When this issue was first raised in February 2019, only three months' worth of decisions would have needed review. Now, 12 months of decisions must be reviewed.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The SRO "Industry"

Do parents really know what the cost is of having a law-enforcement officer in so many Richland 2 schools?

You can familiarize yourself with the issues and cost by viewing the video-recording of the October 29, 2019 School Board meeting. Find this on the Richland 2 website and on

Fast-forward to 29:30 where Harry Miley, CFO, explains about new money coming from the State of South Carolina for four new SROs, who will go on duty at elementary schools in January 2020. The deputies are planned for Killian, Langford, Catawba Trail and Lonnie B. Nelson Elementary Schools.

State funding has been approved and, after Richland County Council approves, State money will be paid to the Richland County Sheriff's Department for salaries and benefits for these four new deputies. Richland 2 School District will bear the expense of operating and equipment funds.

Deputies are provided by the Richland County Sheriff's Department under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Richland 2 School District.

What's the cost of one deputy under the MOU? $130,000 in capital costs, plus about $55,000 in operating costs. Per deputy!

Trustee-elect McKie made an assumptive statement about "all" board members. She should have spoken on her own behalf and let other board members speak for themselves. If a board member that night did not agree with her, most likely such board member would have held his or her tongue to avoid a dispute or conflict.

Trustee- elect Holmes launched a "in light of the times that we are living in, with the shootings that are going on..." statement. Richland 2 could post a deputy at every hallway corner in every school, if it wanted to pay for it. The voters won't pay for that. But here's a fact: the risk of a student's being killed by gunshot at school in the U.S. is 1 in 614,000,000. So, if the risk is infinitesimal, how much are you willing to spend to attempt to prevent it?

Having an SRO in a school will NOT prevent a school shooting. Does any school board member realize that? Having two armed Emergency Services employees wouldn't prevent it. Arming every teacher wouldn't prevent it. Arming every staff member won't prevent it. Arming every student would not prevent it.

Why was a shooting at Ridge View High School threatened earlier this week? The School Board should dig into the real cause and work on preventing that. Get at the cause!!!

The cause is a generation (or more than one) without the skills of conflict resolution, without respect for authority, into instant gratification, without conversational skills, without tolerance, without understanding.