Sunday, March 31, 2019

Extent of bullying?

With state-wide and even national focus on Walterboro, South Carolina and the death of 10-year-old Raniya Wright, a fifth-grader, after a reported fight at school, one must ask what the extent of bullying is in the Richland 2 School District.

Students are supposed to be safe at school. Right?

When a student in Richland 2 reports bullying to a teacher, staff member, Principal or parent, what happens?

Parents are invited to submit their stories to this blog. If you are willing to use your name and name the school and personnel involved, all the better.

If you worry about retaliation, email your story to with your phone number. Confidentiality is assured.

Will I keep your identity safe?

When I wrote a blog in Illinois, numerous sheriff's deputies and policy officers fed me the dirt from their departments. The sheriff's attorney try to force me, under subpoena in a deputy's Federal wrongful-termination lawsuit, to reveal their names. I refused and filed a Motion pro se to quash the subpoena. The Federal judge ate up the sheriff's attorney, telling her that she was just on a "fishing expedition" (his words). I still remember the judge's words from back in 2010, "Mr. Philpott, you have won your Motion."

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Free Times weighs in

The freetimes weekly newspaper in Columbia has weighed in on Richland 2 again.

See the March 29, 2019 article by Al Dozier here.

On February 14th Al wrote an article that was titled "Richland 2 Chair, Vice Chair Will Keep Posts After Controversy". You can read that article here. In that article Dozier wrote about the resolution that the Board considered for authority to remove an Officer from his or her office, such as Chair Vice Chair or Secretary. The Resolution was not about removing a member from the Board.

He wrote, "The measure failed by a 4-3 vote ..." He continued, "Board members Teresa Holmes, Cheryl Caution Parker, James Shadd and McKie voted against the measure. Elkins-Johnson, James Manning and Lindsay Agostini voted for the policy."

So the vote was four against, three in favor.

BUT, when you remove the votes of two persons who are not legally on the Board (McKie and Holmes), the Resolution actually passed (3-2).

The true vote was Board members Cheryl Caution Parker and James Shadd voted against the measure. Elkins-Johnson, James Manning and Lindsay Agostini voted for the policy.

A 3-2 vote means the measure passed. This is just one of many votes that the School Board must re-visit for all eight Board meetings since November 13, 2018. When the improper votes are removed, some votes will change on student appeals and transfers and on other matters. 

S.C. Ethics Commission Owed $2,612,153

The South Carolina Ethics Commission is behind on posting Minutes of its open meetings and behind on updating the Debtors' List.

You can view public information at

The Debtors' List is dated 1/3/2019 and shows Amelia McKie's debt as $41,000. According to media reports earlier this year, that total was bumped by $10,000, when she failed to make a partial payment by December 31, 2018. The amount is now somewhere north of $51,000.

The last published Minutes of the Ethics Commission are for the November 2018 meeting. Did the Commission meet in December? January? February? March?

I called the Commission early in February and was told that the McKie matter was not on the Agenda for the February meeting but it would be heard in March. When I called earlier in March, I was told it would not be on the March Agenda.

When does the Commission meet? You'd think that would be easy to find on the website. It may meet at 9:30AM on the third Thursday, based on the Minutes of the November and September meetings. Call, if you are interested. The phone number for the Ethics Commission is 803.253.4192

To locate the Minutes of past meeting, go to
Hover over "About Us"
Click on Commission
Scroll down and click on "Meeting Minutes"

One of the more interesting pages is the Fines and Fee Report for FY 2017. You can find it if you

Go to
Hover over "About Us"
Click on "Reports and Policies"
Scroll all the way down, under Accountability Reports
Click on "Fines and Fee Report (PDF)"

You'll see that, in all of FY 2017, the Ethics Commission collected only $184,486.50.

Of that total the Ethics Commission itself collected $129,438.91, The S.C. Department of Revenue (DOR) helped by collecting $51,643.59 under its GEAR (Governmental Enterprise Accounts Receivable) Program and a puny $3,404.00 under its Setoff Debt Program.

The GEAR Program includes garnishment of wages and state individual income tax refunds, use of tax liens, and levy of bank accounts.

The DOR charges a whopping 22% of the liability collected..

Is it any wonder that the debt owed the Ethics Commission totaled $2,612,153.11 on the 1/3/2019 26-page Debtor's List, which can be found via the link on the Commission's homepage?

At a quick glance,, the oldest debt is $100.00 from 1999. The largest is $212,945 from 2009 (a Richland 1 School Board candidate, Torlando R. Childress). Does anyone know where he is? Finding him could help the DOR rake in $44,000.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Legal thoughts on Holmes complaint

The newspaper that starting digging into Amelia McKie's ethics violations and found other violations by Richland 2 School Board member has done more.

It was after that that I became interested and then dug into the law. If you haven't read the law yet, look at S.C. Code of Laws Section 8-13-1110(A). Scroll down to Section 8-13-1110(A). The Section is short and crystal-clear.

The Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County (online and on Facebook) sought a legal opinion from the South Carolina Press Association, after it looked at a heavily-redacted copy of Teresa Holmes' harassment complaint against me.

You can read what the S.C. Press Association has to say right here.

Extracting a small portion of Attorney Jay Bender's comment, he said, in part, about a public official, "You certainly lose the right to file a criminal complaint because you don’t like what someone is saying.”

Be sure to follow this story on The Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County

Free-Times also has a long article this week.

The Voice speaks out on Richland 2 Supt.

The Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County has published an extensive analysis of the compensation of local superintendents of school districts, including Baron Davis of Richland Two and J.R. Green of Fairfield County.

In addition to the compensation, you'll find information on performance.

Click here to go straight to The Voice's story by Michael Smith.

As with any job of that type, it's important for a superintendent (or any senior administrative officer of a board or corporation) to keep the majority of the Board happy. Otherwise, it's called "unemployment".  Smith used a September 15, 2018 written comment by Amelia McKie, who questionably now holds the position as Chair of the Richland 2 School Board. Supt. Davis is essential to her conducting school board meetings.

McKie praised Supt. Davis last year with these words: “You have done an excellent job developing the District’s culture and creating the expectation that the District and all of our schools will be ‘premier.’ You exhibit excellence at all times, and we would like to see all departments throughout the District reflect your commitment to excellence, professionalism and customer service.”

From the wording, it appears to be a comment that McKie made to Supt. Davis. I wonder why the reporter wasn't able to reach her for his article.

The reason that I write "questionably" is that, as I have asserted frequently - both here and at School Board meetings, McKie is not a legitimate member of the Richland 2 School Board. She violated S.C. Code of Laws 8-13-1110(A) when she took the oath of office on November 13, 2018 without having filed her required Statement of Economic Interests. She did file that Statement on December 4, 2018 but she has not taken the oath of office since the filing.

If she is not a legal member of the Board, she cannot serve as Chair. Yet she does so. And the other five legal members of the seven-member Board allow her to do so.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

How prevalent is bullying?

How prevalent is bullying in the Richland 2 School District?

For accurate information I'll need to hear from parents and students. If you'd like to give examples and want to remain anonymous, let me know. I can deal with confidential information given to me.

I'm interested in which school, grades, classes and what's going on.

I had first-hand experience with bullying, as a parent. No, not being bullied. And not bullying. But witnessing it. Not here in Richland 2, but before I moved here.

The Special Ed student was assigned to a private therapeutic day school for summer between 9th and 10th grade. He told me he was being bullied. Not by students, but by staff!

He blew off the school bus ride one morning, and he called me. He said he would go to school, if he could take a tape recorder and record the bullying. So I drove him to school - 30 miles! On the way there I explained that our first stop needed to be the Principal's office, so that he could ask permission to use the tape recorder. I told him that, if he couldn't get permission, then I'd need to take it with me. He agreed.

We walked into school (late) and were greeted by the Principal and the Special Ed Director. As soon as he said he had brought a tape recorder, and before he could tell them that I was going to take it with me if he couldn't have it there, both of them went down his throat. And I mean, hard! He did a pretty good job of sticking up for himself, but finally I intervened and backed them down.

He was withdrawn from the school a few days later, after an emergency IEP.

Parents, believe your kids!

More Justice - what is it?

At the Richland 2 School Board meeting on March 26, Mrs. Marian Wright spoke about the More Justice coalition of 30 congregations, including her own at Adams Northeast A.M.E. Church.

Over a year ago I attended a group somewhere in the county and met a man who was in this group.

The group is concerned about the higher ratio of black students in Richland 2 who are encountering suspensions and expulsion than white students for the same discipline. She commented that Richland 2's out-of-school suspensions are increasing, and it has "nearly double the number of expulsions".

More Justice (Midlands Organized Response for Equity and Justice) sponsored a community forum on poor school climate and its impact last Thursday (March 21) that was attended by community members, parents, teachers, and representatives of South Carolina for Education, Richland 2 Black Parents' Association, South Carolina Fellowship of Bishops, the South Carolina Association of Position Behavior Support, USC College of Law and others.

She mentioned that not one Richland 2 School Board member attended.

You can view Mrs. Wright's three-minute comment at the March 26, 2019 by going to the video-recording on YouTube. Fast-forward to 0:09:40.

You may want to check out the More Justice page on Facebook. There is information there about an April 1st meeting/rally.

Violation in Board Policy BC, Board Member Conduct?

When you make time for important reading, you can wade through Board policies. To find the Policy Manual, go to the District's website. Click on EXPLORE. Click on School Board. Click on BOARD POLICIES.

I looked for the policy that Teresa Holmes read about Public Participation at the March 26, 2019 School Board meeting. It's probably somewhere in the Board's Manual, but I didn't find it easily or quickly.

But I did find Board Policy BC, Board Member Conduct, under Section B, School Board Governance and Operations. It reads,

"In order to preserve the trust, confidence, and integrity the public has placed in its public officials, it is the desire of the board to operate under the highest ethical standards.

"It is the responsibility of each board member to do the following (in part):...
  • Refer complaints to the superintendent and abstain from individual counsel and action."
If Holmes had a problem with my persistent questions about her illegal participation on the Board, shouldn't she have complained to Supt. Davis. Did she?

And shouldn't she have abstained from individual action, such as filing a complaint at the sheriff's department, since I have addressed only her Board participation and nothing of a personal nature?

Did she follow that responsibility of a Board member?

If she didn't, what disciplinary action will the Board take? And will it be of public record?

Under Section B. Policy BCA Board Member Code of Ethics, will be found this requirement: 

"Additionally, a board member will annually file a statement of economic interest with the State Ethics Commission (8-13-1110).:

Imagine that.. 

Public Comments Restricted on 3/26/19

The March 26, 2019 Richland 2 School Board meeting has been posted to  You can view that meeting right here.

An important procedure was changed at this meeting. In view of the harassment charge filed against me by Teresa Holmes on March 20, I think you'll be interested in the change.

At 0:07:35 into the recorded meeting, Mrs. McKie introduced the Public Participation segment. Before she could finish the general housekeeping rules for public comments, she was interrupted by Teresa Holmes. Mrs. McKie finished her comments and then recognized Holmes.

At 0:08:19 Holmes said: “Madame Chair, I’d like to make a point of privilege at this time." McKie consented.

Holmes: "I’d like to just reiterate the guidelines for public participation tonight. Just a few points. [Reading] Members of the public may address the Board on any subject within Board authority {emphasis added]. So the subjects that are addressed need to be something that the Board can address. Secondly, speakers are requested to refrain from inappropriate language and from engaging in any form of personal abuses [emphasis added]. [End of reading

"As you have reiterated, Madame Chair, we do not use student’s names, teacher’s names, and ekcetra (it sounded like) and we also ought not be doing that also with Board member’s names. This is not the time for that. I aks, humbly aks that, as the Chair of the Board, you use the gavel to adhere to those policies so that we can continue with what we are here for and that is the governance of children, policy and moving the District forward. So I aks, respectfully aks, that you follow those guidelines, Madame Chair."

Do I think that McKie and Holmes worked this out ahead of time?

Do I think that McKie selected Holmes to give the admonitions, instead of Mr. Manning or Dr. Caution-Parker or Dr. Elkins-Johnson or Mrs. Agostini or Mr. Shadd? 

I have never experienced a Board meeting when any speaker use inappropriate language. Why did Holmes find it necessary to mention that?

I have never experienced a Board meeting when any speaker engaged in any form of personal abuse? Why did Holmes mention that?

The first speaker didn't get gaveled in submission for mentioning her son or the absence of Board members at the More Justice forum that was held recently.

I wanted to avoid leaving the meeting with any bruises from a flying gavel, so I modified my comments that night. You can view my comments at 0:13:05.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Your tax dollars at work - More than $468,000,000 of them!

Be sure to watch and read this news article on WIS-TV about the use of your new bond money in Richland School District Two. Click here to go to the WIS-TV story. At the bottom of the WIS-TV story, click through to see about the projects. This connects to the Richland Two website. One of the tabs will be to "High Bond Projects". They mean High School Bond Projects. Keep clicking.

As you'll see in the news story, the District is to manage the new $468,406,000 ($381,952,000 + 86,454,000). That's almost half a BILLION dollars.

Now take a look at the Board of Trustees of Richland School District Two. You'll find them here. These seven people who are not only responsible for managing this new $468 Million, but also millions of dollars of other assets, thousands of students and hundreds of teachers.

Does any reader (or voter) know or care about their backgrounds, skills, training, financial education, critical understanding of financial statements and economic forecasts?

Some of them are closely related to the world of education. Does that necessarily make them the best choices to steer the finances of a large school district?

Every taxpayer should be paying close attention to the School Board and showing up at meetings to examine how the Board conducts business. If you attended 3-4 Board meetings recently, you'd fire most of them, if you owned this business.

Most of them are nice people. I say "most", because some are not. Or they too might even be "nice" people, just ignorant in certain matters or careless in others. One owes over $51,000 in fines and penalties to the South Carolina Ethics Commission. Another made false statements in a police report recently.

But which of them (any?) really has the experience and expertise to direct the management of this new half-billion dollars and the other millions in assets? They should stop nit-picking small matters at Board meetings and concentrate on the important stuff.

When the next School Board election comes around in 2020, perhaps some highly-experienced business people will run for election. The positions of Trustees Elkins-Johnson, Agostini and Shadd will be on the ballot in 2020.

The other four (McKie, Caution-Parker, Holmes and Manning) are safe until 2022.

If more poorly-qualified trustees are elected in 2020, Richland Two will enter very dangerous waters. The rocks are already in sight. The coral reefs are too close.

First Amendment - DOA?

As soon as the video of the March 26, 2019 School Board pops up on YouTube, I'll provide more detail about a serious problem that surfaced at last night's meeting.

At the beginning of the Public Participation segment, Mrs. McKie, in a soft voice barely audible in the large room, made her general introductory remarks about watch for the red light on the microphone, state your name but not your address, you'll have three minutes; don't mention any students or staff by name, and the Board won't respond following your comments.

And then she turned the microphone over to her cohort and fellow illegal Board member, Ms. Holmes.

Holmes ordered speakers to stay on business of the children of the District, not to mention Board members by name, no profanity, and, if a speaker strays, she hoped the Chair would gavel the speaker into submission. Or some such words.

Too bad I wasn't recording the meeting myself. I'll have to wait until the recording is available on YouTube.

In all the school board and other public meetings I have attended, I have never once heard profanity. Where did that come from? Was it an insinuation that "Person A" might use profanity at the microphone?

And exactly when did McKie and Holmes cook up the tag-team match idea? Was the entire Board behind that? Or was the remainder of the Board shocked? Trustee Shadd is an attorney and should be the best-versed member of the Board about the U.S. Constitution. Did he know that was coming?

Placing restrictions on free speech by a public body (government) is really not a very good idea. While they didn't "make a law" and they aren't "Congress", does the First Amendment apply to Richland 2 as a public body?

As soon as the recording is available, I'll post verbatim what Holmes said.

Then you can judge for yourself.

One remedy that the members of the Board might start pondering between now and the Executive Session on April 9 is how to word an apology to the residents of Richland School District Two for the possible infringement on the Constitutional Right to free speech.

Was it a coincidence that last night's verbal warning followed Teresa Holmes' complaint of harassment filed against me last week at the Richland County Sheriff's Department? Why did McKie pick Holmes, who is the newest Board member? Was this payback for my advocacy and activism? Sometimes things are coincidences; sometimes, things are not.

Back to the marathons

The Richland 2 School Board returned to their marathons last night.

For at least one meeting (March 12, 2019) there was hope that sanity and good management skill had returned to the Board. After prior meetings of 3½ hours, the Board got its business done in 1 hour 20 minutes. Trustee Manning expressed it best in his final comment that evening, "Hallelujah!" That was March 12.

But, by last night, there was no countdown clock running. (Hey, there's an idea; set a loud timer for 90 minutes when the meeting starts.) A too-long Inspirational Moment (just how long should a "Moment" be?) opened the meeting. The speaker had a soft voice and could not be heard. The Chair should establish, when a speaker is invited, that an inspiration moment is to be just that - a moment. Or maybe a couple of minutes. Not longer.

During a lengthy recognition ceremony and photo opp, the District staffer grabbed a cordless microphone for her remarks and introductions. THANK YOU. She could be heard. Many of the students mumbled their names, but she spoke clearly and was heard by all.

In another article I shall comment on the introduction of the Public Participation segment of the March 26th meeting. You'll want to see that, for sure.

And then the routine, boring reports and drivel soaked up time. At one point I left, wondering if the Board intended to wind up by midnight.

In the lobby a reporter from ABC Columbia asked to speak with me. He wanted to know about my interaction with the sheriff's department last week.

Then endurance returned and I went back into the meeting room.

More reports. Then a long discussion about whether teachers are allowed to counsel students. Dr. Elkins-Johnson was asking good questions, and then the nitpicking began. As soon as the video-recording is posted to YouTube, I'll put on a large pot of coffee and prepare an Index.

This Board is sucking the humanness out of teaching. The gist of teacher-vs.-counselor is the worry that a teacher might not pack off little Susie to the school counselor quickly enough, if she looks sad one day. I exaggerate only slightly.

How many students will talk to their teacher but won't go the the school counselor right away? Are they just worried about the stigma? Or that they'll get labeled or branded as a wuss?

A teacher is on the front line. One day the School Board says, "Build relationships with your students." Last night it was "Pack 'em off to the counselor and get back to teaching."

Well, that'll sure keep $83/000/year in the counselor's pay envelope and pay increases out-of-sight for the $35,000/year teachers.

That's where I got fed up and left before the end of the meeting.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Does RCSD have a problem?

Since the brouhaha after the School Board meeting on January 22, 2019, one or more members of the Richland 2 School Board must be worried about their "safe space", because the District has hired three off-duty sheriff's deputies to be present at each board meeting.

None of us wants a Parkland School incident at a Richland 2 School Board meeting. Am I being extreme with that reference? That happens to be the exact reference given to me by a deputy, when I questioned the intense presence of security in addition to the Richland 2 security staff. I thought, "You're kidding! Parkland? Give me a break!"

And we are nowhere close to becoming another Parkland. And it is preposterous that such a comparison would even be made. Just because there was a disagreement after one board meeting between two sisters (one being a State Senator), one husband of a Board member, and one Board member does not mean we have to live in a police state.

But here is the problem. At every Board meeting a crime (violation of S.C. Code of Laws 8-13-1110(A)) has been occurring. That is a State law. Violation of that statute is a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a crime. State laws are enforced by sheriff's deputies.

What is illegal? Read other articles on this blog for exact details on the participation on the Richland 2 School Board by two women who are not entitled at this point-in-time to sit on the Board.

Since the February 12th school board meeting, deputies have been present. The violation of this law has been occurring at each meeting, right in front of them. They have witnessed the crime. The deputies witnessed the crime on February 12, February 26 and March 12. And I expect they'll see it on March 26.

For there to be no violation on March 26, one of two things has to happen. Either 1. Mrs. McKie and Ms. Holmes have to take the oath of office or 2. Mrs. McKie and Ms. Holmes must not sit at the Board desks.

All right, I'll admit that the deputies' training may not have covered this law. But now they know about it. And once they know about it, isn't it their responsibility to enforce the law?

The School Board has put the Richland County Sheriff's Department in a very sticky predicament. It hired these three deputies through the Department. Does that allow these deputies to overlook the crime?

Any one of the three deputies could file a complaint and begin prosecution of the violators. They are directly observing the crime and can take action, such as citing the violators. Any legal member of the Board could file a complaint against the violators. The Superintendent could file the complaint. Parents, voters and taxpayers could file the complaint. A student could file a complaint.

What will happen tonight?

Scene of the Crime - be there!

Have you ever been at the scene of a crime, right when it was happening? What was it like? Pretty exciting?

Over the past three months you may have been at the scene of the crime and didn't even know it. There were plenty of witnesses; in fact, a whole meeting room full of them. And there were even sheriff's deputies there more recently.

But now you can plan to be at the scene of the crime, when it happens. You'll want to be at the Richland 2 School Board meeting at R2i2 on Tuesday, March 26, 2019. It will start at 5:30PM and the Board will quickly vote to go into the Executive Session. If you get there at 5:30PM, watch carefully to see who votes.

An hour later, at 6:30PM, the Board will re-convene the public session. Pay close attention to who is seated at the Board desks. Will there be only the five legal members? Or will two others be seated with them? Pay close attention to who is chairing the meeting.

If the March 26, 2019 meeting is run in the same manner as the seven Board meetings since (and including) November 13, 2018, you will be watching a crime in action.

Two of the women on the Board are there improperly and illegally. They were elected on November 6, 2018, but they were not eligible to take the oath of office when they took it on November 13. Why not? Because neither had filed her Statement of Economic Interests Report with the South Carolina Ethic Commission. Read S.C. Code of Laws 8-13-1110(A). You can Google it by just searching for "8-13-1110(A)". Scroll down to Section 1110(A). Each filed her Statement on December 4. The law reads that you cannot take the oath of office and enter upon your responsibilities unless you have filed the Statement.

Each of the two women has been violating this law since November 13, 2018. Why don't they just take the oath of office now and become legal members of the Board?

Next: Does RCSD have a problem?

Educational Reform Update

Last night's public meeting at Dent Middle School was well attended. Lots of teachers and school personnel. It was sponsored by Sen. Mia McLeod, and Sen. Mike Fanning and Rep. Ivory Thigpen were at the front, too.

SC for Education was well-represented.

The program was introduced as a Listening Session, which I took to mean that the legislators would be listening to the audience.

That worked pretty well, except in 2-3 cases. One woman at the speaker's table on the right side (audience view) went on and on ad nauseum about the legislative process. Five minutes would have been enough.

The meeting should have started on time and should have ended on time. If people arrive late, then they miss out. When meetings start late, all you do is train people to be late. Starting late shows disrespect for who who arrived on time.

Ending on time is important, too. The person-in-charge should keep an eye on the time. As the end-time approaches, you indicate to speakers to wind it up.

There was a generous three- minute speaking allowance. Most kept to that. Some who rambled should have been cut off. A time-keeper with a clock and a bell, other than the chairperson of the meeting, should be introduced and asked publicly to announce when time runs out.

If you want to know what was said, you should have been there.

NEXT LOCAL MEETING: Rep. Ivory Thigpen will sponsor an educational reform information meeting on Tuesday, April 2, 2019, at 6:30PM at the Sandhills Library building.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

School Board emails - Big Problem?

Since November 13, 2018 Richland 2 School Board has presented two people as members of the Board when, in fact, they are not.

Here's one more piece of the puzzle called Problems.

These two people were elected by Richland 2 School District voters on November 6. Then they took the oath of office on November, but they took the oath on November 13 in violation of S.C. Code of Laws 8-13-1110(A). Since taking the oath was illegal, they are not yet legitimate Board members.

Amelia McKee was re-elected; Teresa Holmes was elected for the first time.

Each has an email address posted on the Richland 2 website under School Board members. McKie's email address is Since she has not been a legal school board member since November 13, 2018, she should not have a District 2 email address. The District should suspend that email address and remove her from the Member listing on its website, until she takes the oath of office legally.

Holmes doesn't use a Richland 2 School District email address. For some reason, the District is allowing her to use a private email account, "".

There is a serious problem facing Richland 2 for allowing her to use an off-server email address. The Hillary Clinton private email server scandal provides a clear reason why all official email should be only on the official email platform.

Should a member of the community, a media service or even a law-enforcement agency submit a FOIA request all for official emails to and from Teresa Holmes, could he or it have a reason to suspect the quantity in the FOIA response? Could there be off-server emails (sent or received) that were not included? Who would know?

Remember how some people wanted to believe that Clinton hadn't done anything wrong? Even today more emails are surfacing that should have been provided long ago. And, legally, there never should have been any there in the first place. Everything should have been right in Clinton's secure .gov email account.

Does Holmes know the FOIA rules? Did the District explain that all official emails, received and sent, at her private email address are subject to FOIA? Would Holmes have any problem if every one of the emails on that account was inspected, even the private messages?

Has she ever deleted any email from that account? Did she ever delete official-District email from that account, even one as innocuous as "Are you going to the meeting?" NO official business email is to be deleted. Does District 2 have a signed statement from her that the FOIA email rules have been explained to her?

What happens when she is not re-elected in 2022? What happens to all the official District 2 emails in that account? Will she just dump them? How would District 2 respond to a FOIA request in 2023 for official email to and from her? Would she say,"Nobody told me anything", as she did in regard to the late filing of her Statement of Economic Interest Report?

Holmes should not even be receiving any official District email or documents, since she hasn't yet legally taken the oath of office. When she does take it, the District should set up an official email account for her and post it on the website.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Will you be trespassing at a R2 School Board meeting?

Trespassing is a crime; right? Everybody got that?

OK, so pay attention at the end of a Richland 2 School Board meeting and make sure you are not committing trespass.

Here's my opinion. I am not a lawyer. I've probably said 10,000 times in my lifetime. I am, however, a person who can read the words in the law and understand them. You'll likely soon encounter some who cannot.

Here's what trespassing is.

If you see a sign that reads, "No Trespassing", and you pass beyond it, you are trespassing.

If you are told to leave a place (depends on who is telling you) and you fail to leave, you are trespassing.

If you are told (by a person in authority) to leave and you do leave, but you come right back, you are trespassing.

If you are issued a Notice of Trespass, obey it until it expires or you get it canceled.

If you are standing in a public meeting room with others who have attended the meeting and you fail to immediately leave the premises as soon as the gravel drops at the end of the meeting, I believe you are not trespassing.

If you have had some experience with this after a Richland 2 school board meeting, please contact me. I will respect the confidentiality of our conversation. If you don't want your name used, I shall never use it.

Citizen accused by R2 Board member

Last Thursday I was strongly encouraged (I would call it a "warning") not to approach members of the Richland 2 School Board after meetings have adjourned. Don't approach them; don't speak to them; don't attempt to engage in any manner. The meeting is over. You have nothing to discuss with them. Even if you speak in a conversational tone and in no way are threatening, one or more of them might feel harassed.

The risk? Such an approach could be considered harassment. When the meeting is over, it is o-v-e-r.

If that's true, then the Board members should immediately exit stage right and leave by the rear door, avoiding all parents or other community members who might like to speak with them.

Where did that caution come from?

I received a telephone call informing me that a harassment report had been filed with the sheriff's department that had my name in it. The deputy said he wanted to hear my side of the story. I instantly knew my decision, and I said, "First I'd like to read the report." I immediately drove to the Sheriff's Department on Two Notch Road and was promptly met by the deputy. We went to the office of the Deputy Chief in charge of the Criminal Investigations Division. Perhaps most people would feel intimidated. I did not.

I was shown the Incident Report and given time to read it. The name of the person filing the report was one of the Richland 2 School Board members, Teresa Holmes. I read the report carefully and pointed out several false statements and exaggerations. I suggested that they first investigate her report and get the facts.

Here is what the narrative of the report said: "C/V (School Board Member) came into RCSD to report that a man that has approached her at several Richland County School Board meetings is harassing her. C/V states she feels threatened by the subjects [sic] behavior. Besides the meetings where she has been approached by the subject, the C/V states he has sent her numerous emails attacking her. The emails proveded [sic] by the C/V have the subject's PH# listed as 847.971.7083. A case number was issued to the C/V."

FALSE STATEMENT IN REPORT: "approached her at several Richland County School Board meetings"

FACT: I approached Teresa Holmes one time only. It was after the end of the March 12th Board meeting. AND Sheriff's Department Lt. Rhoades was standing right next to us during our entire, short conversation. One time is not "several".

FALSE STATEMENT IN REPORT: "is harassing her."

FACT: Standing in a public meeting room, having a calm conversation, is not harassment. Had any harassment occurred, don't you think Lt. Rhoades would have taken immediate action?

FALSE STATEMENT IN REPORT: "Besides the meetings..."  (plural)

FACT: One meeting.

FALSE STATEMENT IN REPORT: "has sent her numerous emails attacking her"

FACT: No email has been sent only to Teresa Holmes. Any email I sent about Board business is sent to all Board members. I have never attacked her.

The report shown to me on Thursday listed Harassment as the Incident Type on Line 1. Imagine my surprise when I picked up a copy of the report on March 25 and found the Incident Type had been changed to Intimidation. This apparently happened when the Records Division coded the report for electronic filing purposes.

As the Sergeant, Deputy Chief and I talked further on Thursday, the two deputies acknowledged that I had not committed any crime. They showed me the statute on harassment (S.C. Code of Laws 16-3-1700) and explained that I had not violated it.

They told me they don't want anything to happen. I explained that I had not been at any meeting where something had been close to happening. I certainly am not going to cause something to happen. Further, I told them that if I observed anyone threatening or harassing a Board member, I'd instantly be right in the middle of it to defend that Board member.

They assured me that they understand it is my right to speak to the Board in public at meetings and to address them on official matters. In every communication I have been polite, respectful, truthful and direct. All my written communications have been addressed to the full Board. Never - not even once - did I send an individual email to the complaining Board member.

I explained that I believe there are two people on the Board illegally. The sergeant asked if I wanted them kicked off the Board. I told him that is not my intention; they were elected, and all I want is for them to be sworn in - legally. Per the School District, as of March 18 they have not been sworn in since filing their Statements of Economic Interests on December 4.

The taxpayers, voters, parents, students, residents of the Richland 2 School District deserve a legal Board.

If you agree, step up.Show up at the Board meeting tonight, Tuesday, March 26, 2019, at 6:30PM at R2i2. If you want to speak, sign up on the speaker's form AND fill out the silly, but required, second form. Be sure you personally present that completed second form to a deputy or Richland 2 security officer (get his name) who will give it to the Board. If you fail to fill out that second form and turn it in, you are out of luck.

Email your Board members. Remember now, don't "harass" them. Be clear, polite, respectful, proper, sincere, direct and tell them what you want them to do. Tell them to stop operating illegally and to swear in Mrs. McKie and that other one.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Why the legality of the Board matters

At the school board meeting on March 12, 2019, the Board discussed confidential student matters in the closed Executive Session between 5:30-6:30PM.

In the public session the Board voted on student matters. You can view the Board meeting on YouTube; start at 42:12 on the timer.

The first vote pertained to "Student 1", and Mr. Manning made a motion to deny the student's appeal (of suspension or transfer?) and uphold the recommendation of the administration, and Mrs. Agostini seconded.

The vote was 3-4; the motion failed.

Voting Yes (to deny) were Manning, Agostini, Caution-Parker.
Voting No were Elkins-Johnson, McKie, Shadd, Holmes

If only the legal members of the Board had voted, then the result would have been different.

Voting Yes (to deny) would have been Manning, Agostini, Caution-Parker.
Voting No would have been Elkins-Johnson, McKie, Shadd, Holmes

The motion to deny the student's appeal would have passed. Would there have been a second motion to deal with Student 1?

Because the motion was announced as Failed, the next motion made was to transfer Student 1 to Blythewood Academy.

Voting Yes were Elkins-Johnson, McKie, Shadd, Holmes
Voting No were Manning, Agostini, Caution-Parker

McKie announced that the motion passed.

HOWEVER, the true vote by legal Board members was

Voting Yes were Elkins-Johnson, McKie, Shadd, Holmes
Voting No were Manning, Agostini, Caution-Parker

Thus, the true vote was 2-3, and the motion actually failed. Student 1's transfer to Blythewood Academy was NOT approved.

If anyone knows Student 1, his parents and he should be informed of this, and they will probably want to consult with their attorney. Further, the District has an obligation to inform Student 1 of the true vote. Will it do so?

This is only one example of the problems this Board has created and which it must correct, because of its having only five legal members since November 13, 2018.

A motion was made to transfer Student 2 to Blythewood Academy. The vote was 7-0 (actually, 5-0), but the transfer was still approved.

Motion by Manning re Student 3 to deny the appeal.

The vote was 4-3, and the motion passed.

Voting Yes were Agostini, Manning, Caution-Parker, McKie
Voting No were Elkins-Johnson, Shadd, Holmes

However, when you strike the votes of the illegal members of the Board:

Voting Yes were Agostini, Manning, Caution-Parker, McKie
Voting No were Elkins-Johnson, Shadd, Holmes

The motion still passes, but the vote was 3-2.

What if an unfair liability is assigned to Blythewood Academy Principal Marylin Ross Frederick for accepting the transfer of Student 1? She's only doing her job as Principal, but now she has at least one student in her school who is not supposed to be there.

This is why Richland 2 School Board must stop conducting business with two people who are not legally seated on the Board.

Updated 3/20/19 8:08AM

Who administered the oath of office on Nov. 13?

A reader asked me who administered the oath of office to Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes on November 13, 2018.

I was asked, "Wouldn't that person have known that he was not entitled to take the oath?"

It's a good question, but I'm not sure it really matters under the specific section (Section 8-13-1110(A)) of South Carolina law that was violated.

The law says that no public official may take the oath of office or enter upon official responsibilities unless he (she) has filed a statement of economic interests...

McKie and Holmes took the oath on November 13, 2018.
McKie and Homes filed their statements of economic interests with the S.C. Ethics Commission on December 4, 2018.

The violator is the person who took the oath, not the person who administered the oath.

It's quite likely that the person who administered the oath didn't know that he shouldn't be doing so (in view of the lack of statements of economic interests).

But the violator is the person who took the oath. Both of them.

Attorney for Richland 2 School District?

Who is the attorney or law firm for the Richland 2 School District?

Does any reader here know?

If you do, please call or text me at 847.971.7083. Or email me at
I keep sources of information confidential.

I realize I could FOIA this information, but the District could take up to ten days to respond. I'd like to know before the March 26 Board meeting.

Eighteen months ago I inserted myself into the business of a small non-profit in eastern Indiana. I was a volunteer for seven weeks and paid for a membership, so that I would have standing to complain. I believed it had been functioning for years without a legally-constituted Board of Directors. There were many other problems. Their non-profit status was at risk, as well as their 501(c)(3) exemption.

My complaints fell on deaf ears. Finally, the person who was acting as Chairman of the Board announced she would talk to the non-profit's attorney and then she'd straighten me out. Well, it didn't turn out that way. I wrote the attorney and explained what was going on.

The attorney went to a Board meeting and told them that I was right and that they didn't even have a legal board. Then he guided them in correcting the many things they had been doing wrong.

Should McKie, Holmes have themselves arrested?

Amelia McKie, who has been acting as a member of the Richland 2 School Board and chairing public meetings (and presumably attending and chairing Executive Sessions), illegally took the oath of office on November 13, 2018. So did Teresa Holmes.

Should they have themselves arrested for violating S.C. Code of Laws Section 8-13-1110(A)?

There is precedent for a public official's arresting himself.

The late Reuben Greenberg (1943-2014) was Chief of the Charleston Police Department. When he was a rookie cop, he got into an accident enroute to a call. It was his fault, so he wrote himself a ticket. I bought and read his book Let's Take Back Our Streets (1989) and carried it with me each time I visited Columbia from Illinois. I had wanted to meet him, shake his hand, thank him and ask him to autograph the book, but I was not ever in Columbia when he was available in Charleston.

In his book he wrote about what he would make his officers do, if they served a warrant, got the wrong house and damaged the house (you can imagine) while executing the warrant. He made them go back and repair the house!!!

Now that is my kind of cop.

And I read about a sheriff in Wisconsin who had passed a stopped school bus while its red lights were flashing. He realized what he had done and wrote himself a ticket. And paid the fine!

Now these are two examples of high integrity.

OK, so Mrs. McKie and Ms. Holmes don't have to turn themselves in. All they have to do is get sworn in properly. - before the next school board meeting on March 26 at 5:30PM.

Who Is Responsible?

Just who is responsible for seeing that the Board of Trustees of the Richland 2 School District is a duly-constituted and legal Board?

The ultimate responsibility falls on the Board. Or perhaps it will end up being a Court's responsibility.

At the present time there are only five legal members on the Board: Lindsay Agostini, James Manning, Cheryl Caution-Parker, James Shadd and Monica Elkins-Johnson.

Amelia McKee was re-elected on November 6, 2018, but she took the oath of office illegally on November 13, 2018, so she is not a member of the Board. See S.C. Code of Laws Section 8-13-1110(A). McKie didn't file the required Statement of Economic Interests Report until December 4, 2018.

Teresa Holmes was elected on November 6, 2018, but she too took the oath of office illegally on November 13, 2018, so she is not a member of the Board. See S.C. Code of Laws Section 8-13-1110(A). Holmes didn't file the required Statement of Economic Interests Report until December 4, 2018.

Is the Superintendent responsible? As Administrator it is his job to run the District (employees) and to help guide the Board. By now he must realize that McKie and Holmes are not legally members of the Board. But he works for the Board; the Board doesn't work for him.

So why isn't the Board acting immediately to resolve the problem? The fix is easy. All that is needed is to administer the oath of office to McKie and Holmes.

Then McKie and Holmes can legally embark upon the duties of their office. On the Board. But McKie cannot resume as Chair, because they was a break in her service on the Board.

The rest of the Board (the five legal members of the Board) have allowed two unauthorized persons (McKie and Holmes) to sit at the Board desks; to have confidential Board tablets; to attend closed Executive Sessions and to hear matters involving confidential student affairs; to vote on suspensions, transfers, expulsions, diplomas; and to receive compensation as if they were Board members.

The Board may be reluctant to administer the oath of office now, because it will result in the admission that it was incorrectly done on November 13, 2018. If they don't act? It just gets worse.

Parents, voters, teachers, staff and even students should contact the Board of Trustees and insist that they conduct business legally. McKie and Holmes should not be allowed to sit at the Board desks and act like Board members, unless they are Board members.

Phone numbers and email addresses for the Board members are on the Richland 2 website. Call and/or email today.

And please post your comments below about action you will take or have taken.

McKie and the S.C. Ethics Commission

Amelia McKie, who sits in the position of Chair of the Richland 2 School Board, owes more than $51,000 to the South Carolina Ethics Commission.

In February the Ethics Commission told me that there would be no hearing on her matter that month, but there would be one in March.

Early in March the Ethics Commission told me that there would be no hearing on McKie at the March regular hearing date.

Will McKie just get lost among the 300 debtors on the multi-page list that is posted on the Ethics Commission website? They are "so busy" at the Ethics commission that the debtor's list, dated 1/3/2019, has not been updated. That ought to be somebody's job there. After all, it could bring in much-needed revenue to run the Commission.

Prominently displayed on the homepage of the Ethics Commission is this headline:

"Restoring Public Trust in Government"

Lucas Daprile, a reporter at The State, wrote an interesting article on March 6, 2019 about the deadbeats on the Ethics Commission's debtor's list. You can read it here.

It seems that McKie isn't even a legitimate member of the Richland 2 School Board, except she has been sitting in the position as Chair after being sworn in on November 13, 2018. The problem is that she violated S.C. Code of Laws Section 8-13-1110(A), when she took the oath of office on that date. So she is not really sworn in and is not really a Board member. There are six other members of the Board (well, really only five legitimate members) who are not doing anything about McKie's illegal participation on the Board.

Could I take the oath of office for a School Board member and just sit down at the front of the room twice a month. You say that I wasn't elected and haven't filed a Statement of Economic Interests? So what? I took the oath. How fast would Richland 2 security or a deputy sheriff remove me?

A Richland 2 parent told me that she believes McKie wasn't even entitled to be on the November 6, 2018, ballot. Seems McKie had a "little problem" and didn't file campaign disclosure reports. See Note below for viewing McKie's past-due campaign disclosure reports.

So, tell me once more about "Restoring public trust in government"?

The Ethics Commission should turn McKie's debt over to the S.C. Department of Revenue. If the DOR can't collect it in three months, they should turn it over to a private collection agency with instructions to sue within three months. Then hope that there is a judge in some court around here who won't let it languish on his docket for 5-6 years.

NOTE: To find Amelia McKie's campaign disclosure reports, all the way back to 2015, follow these steps:
Go to
On the hompage, click on the link near the top "Public Reporting"
On page for Public Disclosure and Accountability Reporting Welcome, click on "Individual Financial Reports"
On page for Public Disclosure and Accountability Reporting Individual Reports, click on "Candidate Reports"
For Individual Reports Candidates, enter McKie; select office of School Board Trustee; select Year of 2018. Click "Next"
Select District as RICHLAND #2. Click SEARCH
Click on the Name, "McKie, Amelia B"

In that long list, you'll see all the campaign disclosure reports that she filed late. You'll also see the Statement of Economic Interest Reports that she filed late. You'll also see one filed 8/15/2014 for Year 2014, so she can't say that she didn't know she was supposed to file them.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Can you hear at Board meetings?

If you attend Board meetings in-person, can you hear everything that is said?

If you are like me, you see lips moving at the front of the room and occasionally you hear laughter in the audience and know something funny has been said.

Do you hear everything that each Board member says? Occasionally, a Board member will lean forward and speak directly into the microphone; then it is very easy to hear every word.

Do you hear everything that each speaker at the podium says?

If not, let them know. I have.

The microphones do pick up every word spoken for the semi-monthly YouTube video-recording.

Do you know that hearing-assistance devices are available at each Board meeting? Ask at the front of the room, to the right as the audience views the Board desks.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Did Resolution to remove Officer actually pass?

When the Richland 2 School Board considered the resolution to oust a Board member from a position as Officer of the Board, did that resolution actually pass? The resolution was not to remove a member (elected official) from the Board - only to remove a Board member from a position as an officer of the Board (Chair, Vice-Chair or Secretary).

At a  Board meeting earlier this year, that resolution failed on a 3-4 vote.

Agostini, Manning and Elkins-Johnson voted for it.
McKie, Holmes, Shadd and Caution-Parker voted against it.

However, McKie and Holmes were not legally members of the Board.

Thus, instead of the vote being 3-4, the true vote was 3-2. Only Shadd and Caution-Parker remained as members of the Board voting against it.

The Board must re-visit every vote since November 13, 2018 that was decided by votes of McKie and Holmes.

McKie, Holmes to be arrested at 3/26/19 meeting?

Should Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes be arrested at the Richland 2 School Board on Tuesday, March 26, 2019?

Amelia McKie
Each violated South Carolina Code of Laws Section 8-13-1110(A), a misdemeanor.

The five legal members of the Board of Trustees (Agostini, Manning, Shadd (an attorney, himself), Elkins-Johnson, Caution-Parker) should be very concerned about having two people sitting at the Board desks during the semi-monthly meetings who are not legal members of the Board.

The attorney for Richland 2 School District is the attorney for the District, not for individual Board members, and certainly not for people who are not legally-constituted Board members (McKie and Holmes).

Teresa Holmes
The Board is responsible for millions of dollars in School District assets, thousands of students and hundreds of employees. Having a legal leadership of seven Board members is imperative.

If this illegal functioning of the Board is not resolved before the March 26, 2019, meeting, should the two women sitting illegally at the Board desks be arrested and removed from the Board seating area?

Why are McKie and Holmes there illegally? Because South Carolina law 8-13-1110(A) reads that they cannot take the oath of office and commence their duties unless they have filed Statements of Economic Interests. Neither Mrs. McKie nor Ms. Holmes filed their Statements until December 4, 2018, a full three weeks after they took the oath of office on November 13, 2018. A violation of 8-13-1110(A) is a misdemeanor (Section 8-13-1520). A misdemeanor is a crime.

The problem can be easily cured. Now that the Statements of Economic Interests are on file, they can take the oath of office and commence their duties. I have requested Superintendent Davis to inform me of the date, time and place of the swearing-in ceremony.

Mrs. McKie cannot continue as Chair. Her 2014-2018 term-of-office on the Board and then-position as Chair ended on or before November 13, 2018. She has been allowed to act as Chair improperly. The Vice-Chair should assume the duties of Chair until the next regular election of Officers.

Many actions of the Board may have to be reviewed, due to McKie and Holmes sitting at the Board desks and voting on School District business. Items in question will include student suspensions, transfers, expulsions; financial and bond matters; the resolution to create authority to remove a Board Officer, etc. Every vote that was decided by the votes of McKie and Holmes should be reviewed.

The vote on the resolution to remove a Board Officer was 4-3. Removing McKie and Holmes from the vote changes the vote to 3-2 and it would have passed!!!

What is the problem with the Richland 2 School Board that it is resisting this issue? Is it pride? Ego? Is it "We're right, and you parents (not just this writer) are wrong"?

Your comments are invited and welcome below.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Electronic Voting - what's wrong?

Are electronics supposed to simplify life and meetings?

If you have attended Richland 2 Board meetings in-person or viewed them on YouTube, you have seen the pauses and delays, when the Board votes on adoption of agendas, student matters, or adoption of policies.

The Chair calls for the question (Let's vote!) and then it's time for a nap. Somebody has to type up the question, and then the Board members must touch a button on their tablet screens.

Instead of a quick show of hands, there is a long silence. And then it's even longer, when the question is worded incorrectly. Or the wrong Board-member name is entered for the person making or seconding the motion. Or the vote is incorrect and must be corrected.

This needs to be fixed between meetings, so that the flow is smooth and fast.

Aren't electronics supposed to save time, not waste it?

The Ides of March

Do most students today have any idea what is meant by "the Ides of March"? Or who Julius Caesar was? Or when he died?

Or what "Et tu, Brute" means? Or where those words come from?

Would they have any idea even how to pronounce them?

Is Latin taught in any public school in South Carolina? Are there Latin classes in the Gifted & Talented program at any Richland 2 school?

When did I learn those words? 1951. Why would I still remember them? I myself am thankful for the education I received in University City, Missouri.

Will the kids today be thankful for their secondary education? Will it be a genuine foundation of lifelong learning?

Consent Agenda - what is it?

At each meeting of the Richland 2 School Board, a motion is made to approve the Consent Agenda. When the Board members are asked if there is discussion, there is none. When the vote is taken, it is unanimous.

What is the Consent Agenda?.

It could be approval of accounts payable. It could be forgiveness of debt owed to the District. It could be school remodels. It could be expense accounts. It could be Board or employee travel, meetings, conferences. It could be promotions and raises.

In many "public bodies" (city, county, village, town governments, school boards) approval is needed for business to happen. One way to approve all the administrative detail is to bury it in the Consent Agenda. The Administration (Superintendent, Staff) will seek approval of the Board on many matters.

The Board members will know what is on the Consent Agenda. They should receive lengthy reports, posted to their Board-issued tablets. In olden days (not all that long ago), thick packets of reports were distributed to Board members (city councils, etc.), so that they could read, understand, highlight, question the contents. Now it's electronic. This saves money. It also makes it hard for the public to get the information in advance of a decision.

Sometimes the full Board packet for a public body (legal term for a taxpayer-supported entity) is available by a visit to official offices or a public library. Has anyone ever asked to see the "packet"?

When the Motion is made to approve the Consent Agenda, any Board member can ask for an item to be pulled. This means the item will be temporarily set aside for discussion for a vote. The public body then votes on all the other items. Then the public body returns to the "pulled" item, discusses it (or them) and votes.

The public is entitled to know what the Board is approving.

Is the Consent Agenda available for inspection before a Board meeting? How far ahead is it available? Where? During what hours?

Do Board members read all the information in the semi-monthly meeting packets? At the February 26 Board meeting, Theresa Holmes asked a question of a staffer about which teachers were in the Gifted & Talented Program. The speaker hesitated and then said the information was in the report (in the packet). Obviously, Ms. Holmes hadn't read the report. In a future article, I shall address the propriety of a Board member's visiting a G&T classroom.

Several years ago I identified the danger in electronic packaging of reports into Board-distributed tablets. This was back in Woodstock, Ill., when the city council opted to move away from paper packets to electronic tablets. "To save money", don't you know? Who has time to read all that information?

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Ms. Holmes' Defense (attempt)

It seems I got under the skin of Teresa Holmes at the March 12, 2019 Richland 2 School Board meeting.

A general rule, as usually explained by the Chair prior to the Public Participation segment of Board meetings, is that the Board will not respond to or address comments from members of the public. On other evenings it has been explained that "someone" (staff) may get back to a member of the public who addresses the Board.

On March 12, 2019 I asserted that two people on the Board are not legally members of the Board. I base this on State law, Section 8-13-1110(A).

At the close of the March 12th meeting there was an Item (16) for Board and Superintendent Comments.

Ms. Holmes used her time to state that she did not know of any requirement to file a Statement of Economic Interests (SEI) with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. She learned of it after being contacted by The Voice of Blythewood and Fairfield County. She did file her SEI on December 4, 2018.

She defended herself against "things that are done for personal reasons or when things are done to be sensationalized." Now, whom could she possibly mean? What "personal reasons" could there be? Who could benefit from "sensationalism"?

She says she is in good standing with the State Department (meaning the Ethics Commission). She is, but this is a deflection.

She is not a legally-constituted member of the Board.

But she refused to acknowledge, in a short conversation after the March 12, 2019 meeting that there is importance to the wording in the state law. The law says she cannot take the oath of office or begin duties (on the school board) unless she has filed a SEI.

She took the oath of office before she filed the SEI.
She began her duties before she filed the SEI.
She has been paid as a Board member, even though she is not legally a member.

By the way, this is also true for Mrs. McKie. A huge problem for the Board is that it has allowed Mrs. McKie to chair Board meetings, even though she is not legally a Board member.

I have emailed Supt. Davis and the school board that I wish to be informed of the date, time and location when Ms. Holmes and Mrs. McKie will be legally sworn in.

Ms. Holmes proudly stated that she has already filed her 2019 SEI. The problem with this? How will she account for any conflicts of interest or reporting of required disclosures between now and December 31, 2019? She gets no points (from me) for filing prior ot the March 30, 2020 deadline. Her statement was a waste of breath and contained no value.

Longleaf Middle School praised

At the March 12, 2019 Richland 2 School Board meeting Principal Robert Jackson and Longleaf Middle School (Columbia, S.C.) made a presentation, and students were recognized for their achievements. Two students addressed the Board.

In his closing remarks, Principal Jackson referred to the late Coach John Wooden and quoted these words, "Don't let what you can't do, keep you from doing what you can do."

These are words to live by!

By coincidence, on Wednesday, March 13, I received an email from a high school classmate with a recorded presentation on TED by Coach Wooden. It was only after I watched the video-recording of the Board meeting that Coach Wooden's name jumped out at me. Not having participated in sports in high school or followed sports afterwards, I was not familiar with Coach Wooden (1910-2010 (Age 99)).

Take 15 minutes and watch this presentation, titled "The Difference Between Winning and Succeeding.". It's one that every teacher and many students should hear. This TED presentation was published on YouTube on March 26, 2009, about 14 months before his death at age 99. Be sure to reach some of the comments, too.

To share this with educational professionals you know (or anyone else), just click on the "Share" button above. No record is seen or kept of your email address or that of anyone to whom you forward this article.

Board Meeting Index - 3/12/2019

The video-recording of the March 12, 2019 Richland 2 School Board meeting can now be viewed on YouTube. Go to and search for "Richland 2". Click on "Richland 2 Board of Trustees Meeting". Click on the meeting date. The length of the public portion of the meeting is shown.

There was a one-hour Executive Session prior to the public meeting.The Executive Session is closed to the public. During the public meeting the Board will vote on items discussed during the Executive Session.

March 12, 2019 Meeting

The beginning of the meeting was at about 5:30PM, and the Board immediately voted to enter the Executive Session. The video is stopped. The video resumes after the Executive Session.

01:17 (one minute, 17 seconds) The Regular (public) Session resumes. Item 3.1 Inspiration Moment/Pledge of Allegiance
02:00 Inspiration Moment. Mother of Spring Valley HS freshman
07:58 Pledge of Allegiance
08.38 Item 4.1 Approval of Agenda
09:37 Item 5.1 Special Recognition
20:48 Item 6. Consent Agenda
22:22 Item 7. School Focus. Longleaf Middle School. Principal Robert Jackson concluded with a quote from the late Coach John Wooden (1910-2010 (Age 99)). "Don't let what you can't do, keep you from doing what you can do." Principal Jackson's remarks are worth listening to!
29:51 Item 8. Public Participation
   Gus Philpott on School Board validity (30:29-33:34)
   Chris Haas (R2 teacher) on S.C. educational legislation (33:48-36:52)
   Lisa Ellis on educational bills (37:07- 40:16)
40:30 Item 9.1 Legislative Update (Board Member Shadd)
42:12 Item 10. Voting on Executive Session Items,
48:15 Item 11. Old Business
50:00 Item 12. New Business
1:03:58 Item 13, Agenda Items for Next Meeting
Item 14. Approval of Agenda Items for Next Meeting
1:07:42 Item 15. Public Participation 2
1:08:00 Item 16. Board and Superintendent Comments
1:09:55 Ms. Teresa Holmes' defensive comments about her "membership" on the Board.
1:11:51 Concluding statements by Supt. Davis. Upcoming events; see R2 website.
1:16:31 Concluding statements by Mrs. McKie.
Item 17. Executive Session 2. (Not needed.)
Item 18. Voting on Executive Session 2 Items. (Not needed.)
1:19:17 Item 19. Adjournment

Coming soon - Board Meeting Index

How many parents, teachers, staff or community members in Richland 2 have watched a video of a Richland 2 School Board meeting on YouTube?

When you look at the still shot of the board meeting and the time for the video (let's say, 3:36:00), how eager are you to put everything else on the shelf, grab your notepad and pen, and sit down for a 3½-hour meeting?

If you have watched a portion or any or all of them, you may have noticed this wording: "Comments are disabled for this video."

Frankly, it's a shame that the Board prevents viewers from commenting!

So, you can look forward to being able to comment on the meeting video right here. I expect to create a page for each meeting, once the video has been posted (the March 12, 2019 meeting can now be viewed on YouTube). The page will contain an index for the meeting. If you want to view only a certain portion of the meeting video, you can fast-forward (drag the timer bar). The index will follow the Agenda for the meeting.

To view the Agenda, go to  Click on EXPLORE, then click on "School Board", then click on the meeting date, then click on "View the Agenda".

To view the agenda for the next meeting, visit that site 48 hours before the meeting.

D.S.T. and Students

How are students doing with the change in time to Daylight Savings Time (D.S.T.)?

How do teachers prepare for that first Monday after the time-change? This year it was last Sunday, March 10. Presumably, everyone arose an hour "earlier". How does that work out for high schoolers, middle schoolers and, especially, elementary school students?

Does it make those first few teaching days harder, when kids are still half-asleep?

And how about the teachers themselves and the bus drivers? Is everyone awake and cheery first thing in the morning?

I remember a school year, when I lived in Illinois (1996-2014), and the local school district announced that the following year's classes would begin earlier in the day.

One wise mother wrote a Letter to the Editor of the county's daily newspaper. She wrote that she agreed that children learn better earlier in the day, "but they have to be awake first."

This year one former teacher emailed me that her sister and she had been late for a luncheon on Sunday. When did you change your clocks? Saturday night or Sunday morning?

How is it going in your family? (Please comment below.)

How much security needed at school board meetings?

After the February 12, 2019 Richland 2 School Board meeting I questioned the number of deputies present from the Richland County Sheriff's Department (Columbia. S.C.). I had noticed about six uniformed officers but, when I inquired of one of them, I learned that only three were deputies and the others were Richland 2 security officers.

In January there had been an alternation of sorts involving one Board member and three non-Board members - (Mr.) Stacy McKie (husband of Board Chair Amelia McKie), Sen. Mia McLeod and her sister. I can't wait to learn how this case turns out. I watched the video of the lobby at R2i2, and it surely looked to me like somebody got right in Dr. Elkins-Johnson's face and provoked her. Where I come from, you can't pick a fight and then cry "Victim".

An issue of ethics was a hot topic at the meeting, and it appeared that there were many in the audience who had been invited to support the person under fire.

The aggressive presence of additional security in the form of sheriff's deputies was due to safety concerns. It is unknown at this writing who requested the increased security. Did they Board vote on the decision to order security and the expense?

At the March 12, 2019 school board meeting I again noticed the high level of security. When I arrived, I made it a point to thank a couple of the deputies for being there to protect "us" from the (whole) Board. I meant it, of course, as a joke. What reason should I have to fear the power of the School Board?

After the meeting I again questioned the additional security, and I learned that the School Board has hired (HIRED!) the three deputies to be there "just in case". I protested that but, of course, I needed to be protesting it to the Board, which had hired the deputies and was paying for them.

Now this is not downtown Columbia. There is no need whatsoever to have hired deputies on the premises of a school board meeting. If a problem arises, dial 9-1-1.

I wonder what the cost of this added security is. I'm going to take a wild guess that the deputies are there on an over-time basis at a possible hourly rate of $60.00. Three deputies ($180.00) for four hours would cost Richland 2 School District $720.00 for each board meeting. There is an easy way to learn the cost. All I would have to do is file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with Richland 2.

Two board meetings per month. $1,460/month - wasted! How long will this go on?

URL vs. easy blog address

Don't be confused by the address line for this blog.

The blog is set up on, which results in a blog address of

Now who wants to tell a friend about that "address"?

To make it easy for you to tell others about this blog, you can just tell them to visit  Typing this simple, short URL brings you right here, thanks to a great re-directing, forwarding service of

It's easy to forward this blog to friends, relatives, neighbors, etc. Just click on the "Share" symbol. You know what that is; right?

Want to contact me, Gus Philpott, the author of this blog? Just click on the three-line box at the top left and find my email address.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Richland 2 Endurance Contests (meetings)

If you have been attending or watching (on YouTube) any of the Richland 2 School Board meetings recently, I hope you have had your NoDoz™ handy. Even School Board members mentioned the long meetings, by saying "It's past my bedtime."

Last night's meeting was much shorter. For your information, the recorded length of previous meetings (only the public sessions, which were preceded by one-hour executive sessions) was

2/26/19 3:30:32
2/12/19 3:36:00
1/22/19 2:23:44
1/8/19   1:12:50
12/11/18 3:08:38
11/13/18 2:04:27

Just today I came across last week's editorial on the length of school board meetings, published in The Independent Voice of Blythewood and Fairfield County. You can read it here.

The Voice has covered the Richland 2 School Board in depth recently, reporting on the ethics fiasco and other school district matters. I encourage you to read The Voice regularly (This is not a paid advertisement.) And be sure to comment there (and here, too).

Oh, say, can you hear?

At each Richland 2 school board meeting I wonder just how many people can really hear everything that is said. If you have attended in-person, have you heard everything?

I distinctly remember the first meeting at which I actually heard a speaker who was addressing the Board from the podium. A man from the South Carolina Education Association was there to present a proclamation to the Board. He spoke up. I mean, loudly and clearly, so that he could be heard throughout the room. I wanted to stand up and applaud him!

Are you hard of hearing? Do you know that hearing-assistance devices are available at meetings? No, I didn't know that, either. All you have to do is ask. Ask at the front right of the room (from the audience's view) before the meeting starts.

I'll admit to some degree of hearing loss. After all, these ears have been listening for 80 years. But they are not worn out. When people speak clearly in conversational tones, I don't have any trouble hearing.

If the Board members spoke up, firmly and clearly and actually into the microphones, they could be heard.

I know this is true, because at the March 12th meeting, Teresa Holmes spoke right into her microphone, as she defended herself against remarks I had made during the Public Participation segment of the meeting. You can hear her comments near the end of the March 12, 2019, video recording of the meeting on YouTube.

Ethics - do they matter?

How important are ethics in business? in personal lives? to you?

In the Columbia, S.C. news since late last year have been items of ethical issues involving members of the Richland 2 School Board members.

Most of these matters have now been cleared up.

There is one major matter outstanding. It involves the fines and penalties assessed against Amelia McKie, Chair of the Richland 2 School Board. She owes more than $51,000 to the South Carolina Ethics Commission.

Mrs. McKie's first term on the Board was 2014-2018. She ran for re-election and was successful on November 6, 2018. In the latter half of 2018 she served as Chair of the Board, having been elected to that position by the Board members serving at the time of the election of officers of the board.

On November 13, 2018, Mrs. McKie was administered the oath of office and commenced her duties as Board member for the term of office 2018-2022.

Mrs. McKie had failed to file numerous required documents with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. These required documents included quarterly campaign financial disclosure filings and annual Statements of Economic Interests.

Other media have reported the details of the missing reports and the starting levels of fines. As Mrs. McKie refused to pay the fines that were being levied against her, the amounts increased. Other media have reported that, when she failed to make a payment by December 31, 2018, a large penalty was added, and her fines and penalties now total over $51,000.

Where is the outrage over the Chairperson of a public School Board owing this sizable sum of money to the Ethics Commission?

Only a handful of parents have spoken up at school board meetings. There has been, up until now, no way for one parent to know of another parent's complaints.

There is, on the part of some parents, a feeling that Mrs. McKie was not legally entitled to have her name on the November 2018 General Election ballot, due to her lack of compliance with required filings at the S.C. Ethics Commission. I have not researched that myself.

It was a close election for the four open seats (seven Board members). The top five vote-getters were
  • Amelia McKie (I) 26,033
  • James Manning (I) 21,740
  • Teresa Jones Holmes 20,398
  • Cheryl Caution Parker (I) 19,182
  • Craig Plank (I) 17,313

Is there a valid school board?

At the March 12, 2019, school board meeting, I read the following statement:

Members of the Board and Supt. Davis,
My name is Gus Philpott.
As much as anyone here tonight, I regret having to bring this issue again to your attention. It will continue to come up until the problem is resolved.
I believe that two of the Board members are not legally entitled to sit. I believe you must immediately leave your seats. I hope the attorney for the School District is present now to advise you.
To sit at these desks, to act as Board members and make decisions involving student affairs and millions of dollars of District assets, each of you must be duly elected and properly sworn in.
This Board has had an unresolved legal problem since November 13, 2018. Why do I say this?
Election day was November 6, 2018.
According to a message from Richland 2 School District, on November 13 Mrs. McKie was administered the oath of office for the 2018-to-2022 term of office and entered upon the duties of Board member. If the oath of office was administered to Ms. Holmes on that date, this applies to her, too. I assert that administration of the oath of office to them was in violation of State law.
South Carolina Code of Laws Section 8-13-1110(A) reads in part, “No public official … 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 provision of this chapter with the appropriate supervisory office.” Violating this Section is a misdemeanor under Code of Laws Section 8-13-1520.
As of November 18th Mrs. McKie had not filed the State of Economic Interests Report with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. She did not do so until December 4, 2018. Ms. Holmes also filed her first Statement of Economic Interests on December 4th.
Thus, having not filed the required Statement, neither was eligible to take office.
The proper action is for Mrs. McKie and Ms. Holmes to stand up now and step away from the Board. Immediately. Mrs. McKie is not legally a Board member and cannot be the Chair of this Board.
When the Chair’s position is vacant, the Vice-Chair assumes the duties of the Chair.
If she does not immediately leave the Board, then all of you become complicit in the illegal functioning of this Board.
Should they be administered the oath of office at some future date, then they can become Board members. Mrs. McKie cannot reclaim the position of Chair, unless she would be elected to it a future regular election of officers.

As both were not legally Board members, I request that the District recover all funds improperly paid to them. A review of all decisions made by this Board should be made. If their votes were the deciding votes in any decision regarding a student suspension, expulsion or transfer or in any financial or other matter, I request a new vote on each matter.

At the end of the March 12th Board meeting, Ms. Holmes made her Board comments. You can hear her toward the end of the YouTube video. It was the only time during the entire meeting that any Board member spoke loudly and clearly into the microphone. She defended her legitimacy of Board membership.

After the end of the meeting, I approached Teresa Holmes. A Richland County deputy stood by our conversation. Ms. Holmes told me in no uncertain terms that she was doing nothing wrong and was properly on the Board.

By the time I was 18 (and that was quite a few years ago), I had become acquainted with the phrase "Ignorance of the law is no excuse." I think those words do not exist in her vocabulary.

New (unofficial) blog

Greetings to all parents, students, teachers, staff, community members and taxpayers.

This blog has been established to give you a chance to share your voices about school board matters. I am a resident of Richland 2 in Columbia, South Carolina. I am not a parent of a Richland 2 student; however, I have advocated for a special education student in Richland 2, complained about how a School Resource Officer involvement was mishandled in Richland 2, and have advocated for years in a special ed department in a school district in northern Illinois before moving to Columbia in 2014.

Richland 2 school board meetings are video-recorded and are archived on YouTube. To find them, go to and search for Richland 2. That's the easy part. The hard part will be staying awake for 3½ hours, if you start watching a number of them prior to March 12, 2019.

This blog is my personal opinion. Comments will be open, with this decision subject to review and change. If comments are respectful and contain language that you would use in your mother's presence, they will remain. Please post comment under your true name. Anonymous comments containing offensive, personal attacks will be deleted. You can whine about deleted comments, if you want; it won't do any good.

OK, onto the meat...