Tuesday, April 30, 2019

4/30/19 School Board Meeting - Part 2

During the public participation segment of tonight's Richland 2 School Board meeting several women spoke about the cell tower that is to be built on the grounds of Kelly Mill Middle School.

What the Board could have explained is whether the tower is already a "done deal". Instead, they hide behind a policy of not commenting on anything a speaker has to say.

This leaves the speaker(s) without any answers.

Watch the video of tonight's meeting when it shows up on YouTube in a few days. You want to skip past the lengthy period of time devotes to student recognition.

When my turn to speak came, I beat down on the Board and the Superintendent for kowtowing to the teacher mob and closing schools tomorrow, May 1. I said that the right course of action by the Superintendent would have been to direct principals to deny requests for May 1st personal leave after a certain number (say, five) was reached.

The job, the responsibility, the obligation of Richland School District Two is to educate the students. It is not to kowtow to teachers. It is not to let the teacher-mob run the schools. It is to prevent the teachers (or anyone else) from interfering with education of the students.

When I shifted gears just after the one-minute mark (with two minutes remaining to me) to the illegally of McKie being on the board, she shut me down. When I asked for my remaining time, she told me to put it in writing.

So what I learned is that there is some unwritten rule that she can pull out of purse at-will and shut down a speaker.

Tomorrow I will demand an explanation from Supt. Davis and a reference to any written policy that allowed McKie to cut me off, when I began to speak on a different topic. The Board Policy on public participation makes no mention of such a limit.

I immediately considered this an infringement on free speech. Maybe a good call tomorrow will be to the ACLU. Or maybe I'll win the lottery and will be able to afford to sic my own attorney on Richland 2.

So, beware of the Board, if you choose to suit up and bravely protest anything at Richland 2. Stick to one topic, and plan ahead to say what you want in 2 minutes and 59 seconds.

4/30/19 School Board Meeting - Part 1

There is so much to write about tonight's Richland 2 School Board meeting that I'll break it up into parts.

The most important announcement this evening was the resignation of Trustee Lindsay Agostini from her office as Secretary of the Board. She will continue as a Trustee on the School Board, but I wouldn't be surprised if she later decides to resign from the Board.

Earlier this month she was asked to sign some board documents related to the bonds of District Two. Apparently there was some language in the documents about Amelia McKie as Board Chair. In the Board member comments near the end of the meeting Mrs. Agostini mentioned the continuing uproar about McKie's indebtedness to the South Carolina Ethics Commission, which now stands at $51,850 and no payments on it by McKie.

I am not the only one complaining about McKie.

Mrs. Agostini also mentioned South Carolina Code of Laws §8-13-1110(A), which McKie violated on November 13, 2018, when she illegally took the oath of office. There is a huge question about the very real possibility that McKie is not even a legal member of the board.

Mrs. Agostini sought personal legal advice from her own attorney regarding personal liability for signing the board documents and, upon advice of her legal counsel, she decided against signing.

This is serious! Every board member should be investing in his own attorney's advice. Anything that McKie is touching will be tainted, should it eventually be determined that she did not legally join the board on November 13, 2018.

I thanked Mrs. Agostini for the fine job she has done and is doing on the board. She, along with one other board member, has the highest integrity on the board. She is often over-ruled (voted against) and disregarded when she raises important points during discussions. She's fighting a losing battle with the board, due to the current make-up of it.

OUTRAGEOUS!!!!!

Richland 2 has just announced that schools will be closed tomorrow, Wednesday, May 1st.

To read the full announcement, go to www.Richland2.org

To quote part of the announcement: "Unfortunately, on Tuesday afternoon the number of requested absences reached a point that any last-minute absences would undermine our ability to provide adequate coverage at our schools. Therefore, we can no longer ensure that the school day could proceed in a safe and secure manner with minimum disruption."

Well, it's official. The inmates have taken over the asylum!!!

What would have been wrong with denying a request for personal leave, once the number of requests approached the ability to conduct the business of education.

The School Board must have approved. Tonight's School Board meeting starts at 5:00PM with a 30-minute budget update. Then a one-hour Executive Session will be held. And then the fun begins at 6:30PM.

I think this is a meeting all will want to attend. Don't leave early. Stay to the end. You don't want to miss it.

McKie still owes $51.850

Amelia McKie still owes $51,850 to the South Carolina Ethics Commission. She is past any period of appeal. This is how much she owes and must pay.

There won't be any "deals" now. The Ethics Commission will attempt to collect from her, as it no doubt has already tried. Next step will be to turn the debt over to the South Carolina Department of Revenue.

The Department of Revenue has two programs for collecting debt - the Set Off Debt Program and the Governmental Enterprise Accounts Receivable Collections (GEAR) Program. How far could the DOR go in collecting a debt? The DOR has a wide variety of debt-collection methods and tools, including court action and seeking judgments.

It would be a lot cleaner to work out a payment plan with the Ethics Commission and comply with it.

McKie continues to act as Chair of the Richland 2 School Board, in spite of issues raised about the legitimacy of her position on the board.

She was elected to the board on November 6, 2018, and she took the oath of office on November 13 in violation of S.C. Code of Laws §8-13-1110(A). She was not eligible to take the oath of office on that day because she had not filed the required Statement of Economic Interests Report with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. The law is crystal clear.

She did file that required Statement on December 4. Upon doing so, she became eligible to take the oath of office. But she has not taken the oath of office since becoming eligible.

Thus, she is not legally on the board. Because she is not legally on the Board, she cannot serve as Board Chair.

Yet the five legal members of the board allow her to do so.

What's important here? Integrity. Responsibility. Transparency.

The right action for Mrs. McKie would be to step away from the Board Chair role and even step off the board until she cleans up her financial mess. The five legal members of the board shouldn't have to force her to do, but they may have to.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Who Are the Racists?



Check out this week's offering from PragerU, "Who  Are the Racists?"

Derryck Green of Project 21 will educate you in just five minutes.   
Derryck Green

What is Project 21? Project 21 is part of the National Leadership Network of Black Conservatives. Want to follow him on Twitter? @DerryckGreen

And, since I'm hot right now on "diversity" and Heather Mac Donald's book, The Diversity Delusion - How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture, I'll mention this, which I just read this morning -

"... in practice, the racism charge will always trump a denial of racism. Once such a charge is launched, every campus administration will act as if it were true and will introduce a host of measures to counteract the alleged bias." (Mac Donald, H. The Diversity Delusion (2018). p.70. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press.)

A report of UCLA's Race and Ethnic Relations Committee "... went on to recommend the bureaucratic inflation that is every school's default response to racial protest: ..." (ibid., pp. 69-70)

Is this "bureaucratic inflation" what is happening in Richland School District Two?

Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Diversity Delusion - a must-read


This book is a must-read. You can buy it (it's worth it) or you can check it out from the Richland Library.

Heather Mac Donald's 2018 book, The Diversity Delusion - How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture, hits the nail on the head with her hard-hitting analysis and commentary on "diversity".

The Richland 2 school board heard a presentation about cultural relevance on March 26, 2019. You can view the presentation to the board on YouTube. Search for "Richland 2". Then select the video for the 3/26/2019 meeting. Fast-forward to 2:15:10 on the elapsed-time counter for that presentation.

Richland 2 contracted with Gloria Boutte, Ph.D. (pronouced Boo-tee'), founder of the Center of Excellence for the Education and Equity of African-American Students.

The training with Dr. Boutte, which is a combination of in-person and online work, winds up with a trip to Washington, D.C. for a "Capstone Field Study" experience at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

For an explanation of the District's Culturally Relevant Training and its "Cohort" program, watch the video. I guarantee you will have questions, especially after you read Heather Mac Donald's book.

Trustee James Shadd (2:49:10) offered his perspective that "an African-American male may get bored with what is going on in class and may speak loudly. A teacher, regardless of the color, may decide that this child is being disruptive. Had they known that, from a cultural standpoint, we express ourselves sometimes in an elevated voice does not necessarily mean that we are angry... We are just more expressive than others."

I'd love to see a debate on that subject. Somehow, I suspect that what teachers endure in the classroom is not just a "loud" or "expressive" student but that there is considerable disrespect that accompanies a raised voice.

Think about what happened at Spring Valley High School in 2015, when Niya Kenny participated in the disruption of a class that ended with her arrest, along with a second, minor and unnamed, disruptive student. She wasn't a student who just spoke loudly or was expressive.

My guess is that many teachers have to put up with that every day, and that's because of what the students are showing up with, when they come to school. It's not the teachers' role to accommodate the student. It's the student's job to behavior himself and herself in school and to apply themselves to the learning process.

Sorry, but Boutte's "Culturally Relevant Pedagogy" doesn't get a passing grade from me, and I believe the District is wasting its (your) money on the training and staffing for it.



Saturday, April 27, 2019

Richland 2 Board - still minus 2

UPDATE

To my knowledge and belief Richland School District Two still lacks two board members. The problem identified months ago has not been remedied.

What's the problem?

Two persons elected to the School Board on November 6, 2018 have never been legally seated on the Board. They have assumed positions on the Board and have been allowed to do so. But - legally - they are not on the Board.

Why not? It's really simple. A third-grader could understand it.

On November 6, 2018 Amelia McKie was re-elected to the Board and Teresa Holmes was elected to the Board.

On November 13, 2018 each took the Oath of Office and entered upon her official responsibilities by attending the November 13th school board meeting. Therein lies the problem.

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.

Neither McKie nor Holmes had filed her Statement of Economic Interests Report with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. Thus, neither was eligible to take the Oath of Office. And each committed a misdemeanor by so taking the Oath.

On December 4, 2018 both McKie and Holmes filed the required Statement of Economic Interests Reports.

As of December 4, 2018 each became eligible to take the Oath of Office. But neither has taken the Oath of Office since December 4, 2018.

On March 18, 2019 the District informed me that neither had taken the Oath after December 4. I believe neither has taken it since March 18.

Thus, the Richland 2 School Board has five legal members and two persons allowed illegitimately to be seated at the Board. Why do the five legal members allow this?

The problem is further compounded by McKie's assuming her role as Board Chair. That role terminated on November 6, 2018. Yet the Board has not challenged her or elected a new chairman, as is required by S.C. Code of Laws Section 59-19-70.

The question is not how to remove McKie and Holmes from the Board. They have never been legally on the Board. It should be no problem for the five legal members of the Board to refuse McKie and Holmes seats at the Board.

Why isn't the legal counsel for the District advising the Board of the importance of correcting this very serious problem?

Friday, April 26, 2019

Will Richland 2 Board demand answers?

The next School Board meeting will be the day before teachers go on holiday and waste their day parading around the State Capitol, hoping to influence legislators to throw a few bones their way.

How will Richland 2 be affected?

Chester County has already decided to cancel school on May 1. Wow!

According to The State newspaper this morning, Richland 2 "... is not considering closing schools"

According to the governor's mouthpiece, the governor “believes that teachers leaving their classrooms sends the wrong message to students, unnecessarily disrupts schools, and inconveniences their students’ working parents.” 

Maybe he should send the State Police to the capitol grounds to arrest teachers? Of course, that won't happen. But where should this have been stopped? At the school level. When a teacher asked for a personal day (on a day when thousands claim they will protest), the principal should have denied the request. If the teacher said last week that she is going to be sick on May 1, tell her to bring a note from her doctor on May 2.

The Governor is right, but he needs to put some teeth in his message. 
.
The School Board should make a clear, strong statement to teachers - "The mob does not control the schools." Review the Policy on personal days of leave. If it doesn't already state that a Principal will consider all factors, including impact on the students for the day when considering a request for personal leave, it should!

The Board should direct the superintendent to report on April 30 how many teachers are expected to be absent from their classrooms on May 1, and then he should report on May 14 how many teachers did not report to work on May 1.


Coming up on 4/30/19. Another marathon.

The next Regular school board meeting for Richland 2 will be Tuesday, April 30, 2019, at 5:00PM. Note the time!

The Regular, open session will begin at 5:00PM with a 30-minute Budget Update. Then the Board will run for cover in the Executive Session for an hour and then return to open session at 6:30PM.

A skeptical person might ask, "Why don't they just have the Budget Update at 6:30PM? You know, when parents can be there to hear the whole thing." Place your answers in the Comment section below.

Under Item 10 on the Agenda for April 30 the trustees will be asked to vote on revisions to 32 board policies. How many? THIRTY-TWO. This is absurd. Hopefully, at least one of the trustees will protest the impossible situation in which they are being placed by the board chair and the superintendent, who put their heads together to construct the Agenda.

And then they will be asked to consider nine more policies, two reports and the Capital Improvement Update.

I hope EMS will be standing by. The board members will need oxygen and other medical care after such an ordeal. If four board members pass out from over-exertion, there won't be a quorum. Will Grubhub deliver to R2i2?

It's way past time for this Board to hire a consultant to train the board chair how to run a meeting. As they are, meetings just run on and on, ad nauseum. There appears to be no commitment to conduct the board meetings expeditiously and within a pre-determined time-frame. Remember the phrase - Work expands to fill the time available? Good ol' Parkinson's Law? This Board would do well to set a specific time, such as a maximum of 90 minutes, and then focus on completing the meeting "within the time allotted."

Without an ending time, one of the days the Board will end up being there all night.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Cell Tower Informational Meeting

Last night's meeting on the cell tower to be located at Kelly Mill Middle School was an "informational" meeting. The meeting room (a portion of the room used by the School Board) was packed with parents (including some children and babies), neighbors, and interested community members.

No member of the Richland 2 School Board attended.

Richland 2's Director of Planning William Simon chaired the meeting, which was mostly informal and friendly. Speakers on behalf of the construction of the tower were Leonard Forkas, President of Milestone Communications, and Kevin McMannis, an environmental safety consultant.

Forkas outlined the procedure that has been followed to gain the necessary approvals for the tower to be built, starting with the Richland County Planning Commission in October 2018. In November they were at the Richland County Council. In January community notifications were mailed. (Some in the audience protested that they had not received notice.) In February a community meeting was held, and those receiving notice included the board chair.

If I understood correctly, two cell towers have already been built on Richland 2 school property; this will be the third. The tower will be constructed in accordance with an Request For Proposal (RFP) approved by a previous School Board.

If you are concerned about safety around wireless equipment, go to the website for this project, www.KellyMillMSwireless.com, and click on "Wireless Safety" in the left sidebar. Be sure to click on the link in Paragraph 2 about RF safety.

Many concerns and fears were expressed by those attending. Most of them were based on rumors, suspicions, and emotions. None was based on fact.

I managed to irritate just about everyone in the room by suggesting that parents needed to show up at School Board meetings and know what is going on. (It's too late to complain after the fact.) I also suggested that the FACTS about RF energy be considered, not just one's emotions about this project. I also asked how many use cell phones and even allow their children to use cell phone.

Isn't the perceived (but probably unfounded) worry about brain cancer much, much worse from a handheld cellphone than it is from a 195' tower located 300 feet from a school? But today just look around at all the adults, students and small children who are running around with cell phones stuck to their ears.

The tower will be built, and it won't be so bad as people think.

Director Simon acknowledged that the School District could have done a better job of communicating about the planned tower. I imagine the District will pay more attention to communications with parents and neighbors in the future.

Last night's meeting wasn't even posted on the District's website. And the library doesn't know who is using the District's main conference room at R2i2. Hint to Richland 2 School District: it's a common facility. Why not arrange for the library's telephone operator to answer calls about meeting room usage?

My thanks to The Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County for posting the announcement of last night's meeting on its Facebook page. That's how I learned of it at 5:05PM.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

TONIGHT! 6:30PM. Cell Tower public meeting

Sorry for the late announcement. Just learned of this meeting, thanks to publication on the Facebook page of The Voice of Blythewood and Fairfield County.

Milestone Communications wants to build a 195' cell phone tower ON THE GROUNDS of Kelly Mill Middle School. Recently a parent addressed the Richland 2 School Board about this, but do you think there was any publication by Richland 2 of this meeting?

No doubt Richland 2 sees this tower as a money-maker. There would be a long-term lease involved and important legal protections in the agreement.

The meeting is tonight, April 24, 2019, at 6:30PM at R2i2.

For more information, visit www.KellyMillMSWireless.com  The meeting announcement on this website says the meeting is at 6831 Brookfield Road.

The Voice believes the meeting at R2i2, as of 5:15PM.

22 Policy Revisions - too many

At last night's Special Board Meeting (4/23/19) revisions to 22 Board Policies were considered. Why so many?

When you look closely at the structure of Richland 2, I swear you'd think you were looking at the Federal Government.

Hopefully, the meeting was video-recorded, so that voters, taxpayers and parents (and teachers and staff and students) can review "your government" at work. Audio quality can be expected to be considerably better than in the room.

For a little background regarding the revisions to board policies, watch the video of the April 9, 2019 meeting, starting at 1:06:30, when Item 13 on that meeting's Agenda was addressed. Item 13 included eight proposed policy revisions. Even though the Board had the list and contents, Supt. Davis took the time to read each one into the record.

The Acting Chair of the meeting, Vice Chair Elkins- Johnson, proposed that the board examine one policy at a time. When discussion was called for the first revision, Trustee Lindsay Agostini (1:07:39) questioned the District's expectation of  a compensation package sufficient to attract "highly-qualified employees" for the premier district in exchange for "adequate" compensation. She suggested there ought to be a (better) balance between expectation and compensation.

To me, that is a very reasonable position. But did any Board member jump into the fray and further challenge the wording in the proposed revision?

Supt. Davis commented that the language came from the School Board Association. That doesn't mean it can't be modified, adjusted, amended, edited, or tinkered with to suit the exact needs and desires of the Richland 2 Board. When Vice Chair Elkins-Johnson asked Supt. Davis if the language could be changed (of course it can), and does he (the superintendent (the staff)) have the "time to do that", he paused and then, somewhat hesitantly, said they could go back and re-visit the language, if that was the "will of the board". Of course he could do that and, of course, he does have the time (or he'd better make the time).

Wait a minute! It's the staff that is proposing the revision. They work for the superintendent. Of course, they can go back and make changes. It doesn't take the "will of the board"; it takes the will of the superintendent.

The Vice Chair looked around the board and asked if it was the will of the board. Well, the way you find out if it's the will of the board is to vote on it. Only Trustee Caution-Parker spoke about it and indicated it wasn't her will. The Vice Chair failed to poll the rest of the rest and assumed it was not the will of the board.

Then Trustee Agostini commented (1:09:45) on the second-to-the-last bullet point in the first revision - "to develop a climate necessary to obtain maximum staff performance and a high level of morale and job satisfaction." She suggested replacing "necessary to obtain" with "to develop a climate which encourages maximum staff performance and a high level of morale and job satisfaction."

Trustee Shadd asked Mrs. Agostini what she sees as the difference. She responded that she was looking for a positive word representing something they are working toward.

The Superintendent effectively squelched Mrs. Agostini's suggestions and got away with it, saying they had a number of policy revision to get through before the end of the school year and, in other words, she shouldn't be so picky with her "warm and fuzzy" suggestions. The superintendent sees himself as a "member" of the board when, in fact, he is not. He is the administrator of the school district - the "hired gun". He works for the Board; he is not on the Board.

Due to overall weakness on the Board itself, the superintendent has been able to raise his influence on the board. The board would benefit by hiring a consultant to explain to them exactly how they should function as elected representatives of the people of Richland School District Two.

While the superintendent is hired to run the district, he does so at the direction (and pleasure) of the board (albeit with a fat and secure contract, I'm sure, that protects him financially, if he encounters the displeasure of the board).

Mrs. Agostini wasn't raising "just" grammatical points. Her points went straight to the heart of the policy. They did relate to content!

Then Mr. Shadd felt he had to jump on the anti-Agostini bandwagon and make a comment about "necessary" and putting the onus on the District to make darn well sure it created such a climate. Is this kicking and shoving versus leading and pulling?

When you watch the video, you'll see Supt. Davis sitting up straight as Mr. Shadd spoke, and you'll see Trustee Caution-Parker having a side conversation with the Vice Chair while Shadd was speaking.

In some cultures there is a motto that reads, "The beatings will continue until morale improves." It seems to me that Mrs. Agostini was trying to avoid that pathway.

OK, so then what happens if/when the policy requirement is not met? Who gets caught in the crosshairs? The staff? The superintendent? The Board? Who is accountable?

Mrs. Agostini then correctly stated that it is the Board's responsibility to write the policy, whether it's the content or the grammar. She reminded the Board that it is the Board's responsibility. Bam! I agree.

Again, there was no vote to determine the will of the board. The Vice Chair just assumed that, because no one spoke up, it was not the majority and not the will of the board. And that was wrong.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Today's Special Board Meeting

The conference room was set up differently today, and a U-shaped table arrangement greeted the five (yes, Five - only five) members of the community who showed up for the 2019-2020 Budget General Fund Update and the revisions to numerous Policies.

Once again, sound amplification in the room was a problem. The U-shaped table arrangement was in the center of the room, and side chairs were placed neatly against a wall. As Board members talked to one another and asked questions of the ten staff members present, they often forgot to punch the button to turn on their microphones and, even when they did, their voices could not be heard.

Do they care whether they are heard? By all appearances, they do not.

I heard about 50% of the presentation by the staffer who explained the budget. I heard none of the questions asked by Board members, and none of the comments of staff seated, because their backs were to the community members and they didn't use the microphone.

After about 50 minutes, the Board moved on to the Policy revisions. At this point I was reminded of how a zebra came out. A committee was formed to design a horse. After they struggled and struggled, the end result was a zebra.

The Board nitpicked a few policies, and it was time for me to leave. I noticed the two deputy sheriffs on duty in the room today and thought, "What a waste!" But I'm glad they were there to protect us five community members (at least three of whom were teachers) from the Board and staff. Thanks, Deputies.

The policy revisions brought to the Board should have been ready for approval. Committees should have taken care of all the nitpicking. Maybe that's too much to ask.

Consider just this one - Policy LA "Education Agency Relations Goals and Objectives"

Three paragraphs were scrapped. This new one is proposed.

"The board will strive to establish and maintain positive working relationships with other public and private organizations that contribute to the educational process. This cooperation extends to the South Carolina School Boards Association, the South Carolina Department of Education, the National School Boards Association and the United States Department of Education."

Any consultant looking at that would shake his head and utter works that ought not be printed here.

"The board will strive to establish and maintain positive working relationships ...?" NO.

Better: "This board will establish and maintain positive working relationships ..."

That is a goal toward which you can measure progress. Why give a prize for "striving"? But maybe that's how education is these days. Everybody gets a blue ribbon. Just for showing up.

Maybe Richland 2 should hire me to take a red pencil to their policies. The whole revision plan is just a "make work" deal to spend money and keep people employed. I hope there was some Excedrin on the table by the coffee, soft drinks and box dinner that was set up for the board!

May 1 sick-out?

How will Richland 2 deal with teachers who knock off for the day, so that they can parade about the Capitol grounds demanding higher pay?

SC4Ed is organizing a rally for Wednesday, May 1.

I say, if a teacher is scheduled to work that day (and who isn't?), then he or she had better be in the classroom - all day. If they want to protest or march, they can do it on their own time.

And to hear them tell it, they don't have any of their "own time".

Will Supt. Davis put out a Memo - "Be at work or else!"?

The little kiddies need to be educated; right? Buses will run; cafeterias will pump out the meals. The students will be there.

Will all the teachers be at work?

They can write letters, email their state reps and make phone calls (after work, of course). The State email system works 24/7. Use it.

Monday, April 22, 2019

How important is grammar? spelling? pronunciation?

A number of years ago I was listening to an NPR program, and the guest that day was David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker. Much of the program was devoted to the memory of Eleanor Gould (1917-2005), and two comments of Remnick have stayed with me.

Remnick's February 2005 column, titled "Miss Gould", can be found here.

In today's schools, including Richland 2 schools, how particular are teachers about grammar, spelling and punctuation? I would ask, "How picky are they?" And does it matter?

Years ago in an elementary school in northern Illinois I visited a third-grade classroom. I heard the teacher say something like, "Him and I went to the library." I was shocked. As a visitor to the classroom, I didn't say anything. But three weeks later, during an IEP, that same teacher said something like "He gave the book to him and I." I remember thinking, "We're paying that teacher???"

On another day a teacher used the word "hyperbole", pronouncing it hy'-per-bowl. Seriously?

Is it any wonder that students don't learn good grammar?

Are sentence structure and diagramming taught today?

Remnick wrote that The New Yorker created the title of Grammarian for Eleanor Gould. Read the article linked above. Remnick included this sentence in his 2005 column: "Miss Gould once found what she believed were four grammatical errors in a three-word sentence." And "She could find a solecism in a Stop sign."

Solecism? Do you know this word? Can you pronounce it? Can you define it? Do you look up words you don't know?

Do your ears perk up when you hear a word mispronounced? Richland 2 has two Board members who mispronounce "ask". Does anyone correct them? Should someone correct them? Are they not an example for today's students? Is there a higher standard to which they should hold themselves and, in so doing, invite the gentle correction? 

Being literate is important. Speaking correctly is important. Writing correctly is important. The time to learn it is in elementary school. The time to correct it is in middle and high school. Colleges should not have to teach "remedial" classes. Students needing remedial classes should never have been graduated from high school in the first place.

Question: Did you look up "solecism"?

How does the Dress Code read?

School Board policies across the country are being scrutinized, as students and parents begin paying closer attention to them.

For example, in Wisconsin a student at Markesan (Wisc.) High School was punished "for wearing t-shirts with non-violent, non-threatening images of firearms on them, as well as t-shirts with the word 'gun' on them." (Source: WisconsinCarry, Inc.). "In November 2018 a Federal judge denied Markesan's motion to dismiss and GRANTED [sic] a preliminary injunction sought against the principal and district forcing them to allow the student to wear the shirts while the case is litigated." (ibid.)

See this article in Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel.

Cases elsewhere involve NRA t-shirts and MAGA caps and clothing.

The Richland 2 School Board Policy JICA reads,

Policy JICA Student Dress/Articles/Displays

Issued 8/15
"Richland School District Two students are expected to dress, be groomed, and otherwise conduct themselves in such a way as to not distract or cause disruption in the educational program or orderly operation of the school. Personal appearance and conduct of students should promote health and safety, contribute to a climate conducive to teaching and learning, and project a positive image of the district to the community. School administrators will be responsible for determining violations of this policy. The principal reserves the right to amend any provisions that he/she deems to be in the best interest of the student or the educational process. The board will review the policy for any changes needed on a periodic basis.
"The administration will make the final judgment on the appropriateness of a student's clothing, appearance, and/or display of symbols, messages, or statements on school grounds and reserves the right to prohibit students from wearing any articles of clothing or other items or displaying any symbols, messages, or statements which lead to or may foreseeably result in the disruption of or interference with the school environment."

When you read the second paragraph of Policy JICA, how many readers quickly see the First Amendment problem? 
How many schools are there in District 2? There are 20 elementary schools, seven middle schools and five high schools. Add the magnet schools, Blythewood Academy, R2i2 and others. There could be 35+ "administrations" imposing what each hopes will be District Policy.
If a Principal can "amend any provisions", is there really a District Policy?
There is plenty of attention in the media to the liberal bias in our country's schools, with some estimates as high as 85% of the teachers being left-leaning. I'm thinking the gun issue here. 
But what about clothing? When a well-spoken Blythewood High School student says that leggings and crop tops are not distracting, is she pinning a target on her back for speaking out? Only time will tell.
What was, or will be, the Board's response to the student who spoke out on April 9?

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Accountability. Standards. 17 inches!!!



How wide is home plate? You know, on a baseball diamond? Today on Facebook I came across a long story that is a worthwhile read. Do you know the name, John Scolinos (1918-2009)?

Rather than copy it here, I'll provide the link to the copyrighted article by Chris Sperry. Click here and read why the 17" width of home plate is important.

Here's one line from the story: "We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We just widen the plate!”

And when those "kids" grow up? They haven't learned accountability and they try to avoid the consequence for failing to meet standards. The plate has just been widened.

"Home plate" at the Richland 2 School Board needs to be re-drawn to 17 inches. If this puts the squeeze on a couple of people? Well, maybe they should just head back to the bench.

The game is still "3 Strikes and You're Out". Right now, the count is 3-2. They can't keep hitting foul balls forever.

Should Board Member visit classroom?

At a recent School Board meeting, one of the Board members said she wanted to visit a classroom. There had been a presentation that evening about the Gifted & Talented Program, and the Trustee asked who the teachers were in the G&T Program.

The presenter paused, oh, so briefly, before stating that the teacher's names were in the material that had been submitted for the meeting's Board packet. If the Board member had read the electronic packet before the meeting, she would have seen the names.

I wanted to compliment the presenter for keeping a straight face and for not ducking the question. I was reminded of the Navy Admiral who sat patiently while Congressman Hank Johnson repeatedly said in a U.S. House sub-committee hearing that he was afraid that the island of Guam might tip over, if too many Navy personnel were stationed on one side of the island. How that Admiral ever kept a straight face, I do not know.

Now, should a Board member visit a classroom?

My immediate thought is No. If the Board member wonders what is happening in a classroom, the right path is to ask the Superintendent. He'll get the answer. Board members are decision-makers in charge of millions of dollars in assets and thousands of students. Sitting in one class for a few minutes "to see how things work" is not in their job description.

Liken this to a member of a Board of Directors of a large corporation. There is no way that a Director would ever go, or should be allowed to go, into a department within the corporation and visit/or inspect operations. And there is no need for it.

Besides, that Director has a job elsewhere. As does the curious trustee of the School District. And that job is at a different school in a different school district.

If the inquisitive trustee has time to visit a classroom and the Board approves, let the Superintendent choose the classroom and probably accompany the trustee. Let him choose a "difficult" classroom with high discipline problems, not a G&T classroom. Find out what many teachers are really dealing with during the school day. And sit in the back, quietly and unobtrusively. If the visitor is introduced, the teacher should merely say, "We have a visitor today" and move on. No special treatment.

A school board trustee is properly involved in governance, not administration.

Dress Code Comment

At the April 9th school board meeting, Sterling McLean-Hasinger presented an excellent comment on the Dress Code. Sterling is a senior at Blythewood High School. 12th Grade student.

Her statement is presented in its entirety and with permission. Comments are invited.

Her statement was well-organized and presented clearly to the Board. I wonder whether the Board will direct staff to respond to her in any way.



Good evening.  I would first like to thank the board for their service to our community.

My name is Sterling McLean-Hasinger and I’m a 12th grade student at Blythewood HS.

I, and several other students in Richland 2, strongly believe that the dress code imposed on the student body is discriminatory.

Richland School District Two Policy JICA states that “students are expected to dress, be groomed, and otherwise conduct themselves in such a way as to not distract or cause disruption in the educational program or orderly operation of the school.”

Furthermore the dress code, as published in our school’s handbook, states that “any items deemed distracting, revealing, overly suggestive or otherwise disruptive will not be permitted.”

My question is, who is being distracted by leggings and crop tops? From what I have deduced from the language and application of the dress code, it’s men.  This conclusion leads to some troubling implications. Not only are women being rendered as objects to distract and attract men, but men are also depicted as entities who aren’t capable of self-control. A boy is made to pull up his pants in the hallway when he’s caught sagging just for them to fall back down in the next few steps, but if a girl is caught with a skirt that’s an inch too short it’s an issue that requires her to be sent home.

Ignoring the implications made by this language, the notion that students and teachers are not responsible for their ability to teach and learn because of of a student’s dress is irresponsible.

I fail to see why an exposed shoulder is considered so “revealing” and “suggestive” that it prevents learning from happening in the classroom
I’d even propose that it is the very act of dress coding a student that is the true distraction from learning.
If  students are being asked to follow a dress code at our schools, I think it’s only fair that students have a say in what that dress code should be.
So what’s the next step? I’d like to urge the school board to review dress code with not only its administrators, but also to the children that are requested to follow it. I trust that every decision made is in the best interest of the student, and that our concerns will be taken into account.

Thank you.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Public Participation

I might be wrong, but it seems that there is a new link on the Richland 2 website under the School Board section (under EXPLORE). Perhaps I just hadn't noticed it. Click on "Public Presentation". You'll see the "encouragement" from the school board to stay informed.

Scroll down and look at the "Request to Speak" Form that must be completed, if you wish to speak at a Regular meeting.

Read carefully the wording on the Form. Then read Board Policy BEDH. Then re-read the Form.

The Policy is broad. Basically, all it says is, "In order that the board may conduct the meeting in a civil and professional manner, comments from the public should not include gossip, defamatory words, or abusive and vulgar language."

Now, look closely at the "Request to Speak" Form and compare it to the Policy. Did the Board formally adopt the more-restrictive language in the Form? When did that happen? Why didn't the Board change the Policy?

The Guidelines on the Form are much more restrictive than the Policy. The first makes sense, that comments be on any subject "within Board authority", as one Board member emphasized in the recent meeting. What happens when a member of the public asks the Board to address an issue, but the Board ducks under their desks? For example, the School Board could take action against the two people who are no legally on the Board. In fact, they should take action. Some would say they must take action.

S.C. Code of Laws Section 59-19-60 allows for the removal of a School Board Trustee from office. A person can be removed "for cause". It wouldn't even take a super-majority. Four board members could get the job done.

Unfortunately, one against whom the Board would take action is the Chair of the Board who, with the Superintendent (an employee of the District) selects what goes on the Agenda - and what does not. Any board member can suggest an Agenda item, but that doesn't necessarily mean it gets on the Agenda.

The Board (meaning the Chair?) could refer questions from the audience to staff for research and recommendations, but that seems never to happen. Has there ever been a Motion on the Agenda to refer a question for research, recommendation and answer to a member of the public?

While the Policy directs "no inappropriate language", it does not state anything about "personal abuse". One person on the Board made a specific point about that at a previous meeting, but I do not know of any comment ever made at any Board meeting that I have attended that could be considered "personal abuse".

Now, if a person had a guilty conscience about something, then that person might feel that "personal abuse" occurred. Feelings and facts are two different things. I think it was someone in Washington, D.C. who said,  "You are entitled to your own feelings, but you are not entitled to your own facts."

The sentence in the Guidelines about threatened or pending litigation is superfluous, since the Board does not respond to any comments during the meeting.

And then there is that little grammatical error: "Speakers that [sic] discuss matters ..."  It's "speakers who...

Policy BEDH and the Guidelines certainly don't say anything about the Chair's gaveling a speaker into submission.

This week - Special Board Meeting, 4/23/19

Richland School District Two has announced a Special Board Meeting for this coming Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at 5:30PM.

You can find the Agenda through the Richland 2 website. Click on EXPLORE (top right) and then on School Board. The only items on the Agenda are Budget Update and Policy Proposals Section K and L. Both are listed under New Business - No Action Requested.

What could be so important to call a Special Board Meeting?

No Public Participation segment is scheduled at this Special Board Meeting.

I have a request in to learn 1) Whether the Board Packet containing the detail of the "fine print" in the Agendas is available to the public before meetings; 2) Where the Consent Agenda detail can be viewed before the Board meetings; and 3) Where Minutes of Board Meetings can be viewed.

The Regular Meeting for the second half of April will be April 30, 2019.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Transgenderism - sniffing at Richland 2?


How strong is gender activism at Richland 2 School District?

Check out this video from PragerU. Abigail Shrier hits the nail squarely on the head.

You have seen in The State how a single person is referred to as "they", when the newspaper reporter, for whatever reason, does not want to write "he" or "she". Remember the day when "he" was used, instead of "one"? Many readers don't even know about that day.

I don't mind telling you where I am on this. If I know a person was born male, then he is a "he". If he wants to pretend he's a girl, then I'll just understand that there is something "off" with him. I can tolerate that or accommodate him, but it doesn't mean I agree with it.

What's the policy at Richland 2? Are there boys using the girls' bathrooms and showers? Or girls using the boys' facilities?

Or is there anything going on behind the scenes and lurking, just waiting to be sprung on students and parents?

The Voice on new teacher conduct code

Be sure to read the April 11th article by Barbara Ball in The Voice of Blythewood and Fairfield County on the revised teacher conduct code at Richland Two. You can go directly to that article by clicking here.

I didn't stick around the April 9th meeting to the end, and I couldn't even endure the lengthy video-recording on YouTube. So I didn't witness any debate about it that might have occurred at the April 9th meeting. If you have the stamina and time on your hands, check out the video.

Does the Code apply to Board members or only to teachers?

I wondered during the early part of the April 9th meeting, when one of the Board members got all gushy about referring to her nephew when he was recognized. I wonder how that made the rest of the honorees feel, when so much attention was pointed to the nicely-dressed young man. Maybe she should have respected his wishes that he not be singled out. Mentioning his wishes probably caused him even more embarrassment.

And then later when that same Board member hugged one of the male students who was recognized.

Sure it was innocent and in public. And well-intentioned. Heck, I was even the recipient of a friendly, touching gesture from that same Board member at an earlier meeting although, at the time, I joked to the Richland County deputy standing right there about it.

But if a teacher hugged a student? Can you imagine the uproar? And the discipline imposed on the teacher? Reprimand? Days off? Termination? Are teachers super-cautious now about even thinking about consoling a student?

How about it, teachers? Care to comment? If you are worried about retaliation and want to remain anonymous, call me with your comments. Confidentiality assured.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Index 4/9/2019 Meeting

Before the meeting started, I spoke with the sound man and asked if microphones are set to amplify within the room or just for the YouTube video-recording. He said there is a problem with the microphone at the podium and that voice is not amplified for the room unless the speaker leans forward and positions his mouth about 1" from the microphone.

No one is told to do that, and so no one does.

The April 9, 2019 school board meeting has been posted on YouTube. Times in parentheses below are where you will find selected items, if you don't want to waste 2 hours, 6 minutes watching the entire meeting.

McKie's chair was empty at 5:30PM, when the Board meeting briefly before adjourning to Executive Session. At 6:30PM it was still empty. I was curious why the Board members didn't slide toward the center and leave any empty chair on one end.

As soon as the public session was convened by Vice Chair Dr. Elkins-Johnson at 6:30PM, Supt. Davis interrupted (2:28 on the video on YouTube) and asked for a moment of personal privilege to read a statement provided by the Chair (Amelia McKie), who was absent.

He read, "Greetings to my fellow Richland 2 family, parents and community members. I apologize for my absence at tonight's school board meeting. As a Board member and, in particular, Chair, I take out meetings very seriously, and I am thankful to have been healthy enough to have only missed one in my five years on the board, due to death in a family. I am missing tonight's meeting to support one of my children. I pray that fellow parents will understand and ask consideration and pardon from all others. I wish you a pleasant, productive meeting. I have no doubt that the focus will remain on the myriad accomplishments of our students and faculty and the initiatives, decisions and policies that provide for a conducive and productive learning environment for (unintelligible). I'm thankful to and appreciate Dr. Davis and the Board and the premier executive staff  and all the folks in the room tonight who work tirelessly together to provide information, presentation, data ahead of time to ensure that our meetings flow as productively as possible. May God bless you all lots and lots and lots. Most respectfully, Amelia McKie."

My opinion? The Vice Chair could have simply explained that McKie was absent for a personal reason. And then moved on.

As I wrote previously, I expected to hear "Hail to the Chief" blaring through the speakers in the room. She hasn't served five years on the board; she is in her fifth year. I noticed her statement referred to a death "in a family", not in her family. I don't need her prayers and don't want to hear her say so. This is a business meeting, not a church service.

0:04:07 After McKie's long-winded statement had been read, the Vice Chair thanked Teresa Holmes for loaning her glasses to her.

0:04:45 A person introduced the speaker for the Inspirational Moment and Pledge of Allegiance.

0:06:00 The Inspirational Moment was given by a man from Spain who moved to the U.S. Although I was sitting near him, his voice did not carry into the audience and the microphone on the podium did not amplify his voice.

0:08:20 A second speaker, a woman, continued the Inspiration Moment. She stressed the importance of bilingual education. Learning another language is important to a student's future.

0:10:16 Pledge of Allegiance.

0:10:42 Motion to approve Agenda.

0:11:50 Special recognitions. Mrs. Libby Roof knows how to use the microphone at the podium. She stands close enough to it, and she speaks up in a strong voice, so that she is heard in the room and one the recording. Thank you!

0:30:47 Consent Agenda. (Does anyone wonder what is actually in the Consent Agenda?)

0:31:57 School Focus. Langford Elementary. These students were great! A secondary, portable microphone was positioned, and students spoke into it, causing their voices to be heard in the room. Recording quality degraded slightly for the video, but it was good in the room so that parents could hear. Very important. The students also created an excellent video that was shown in the room.

0:41:11 Public Participation. The first speaker was (Miss) Sterling McLean-Hasinger *. 12th Grade student at Blythewood High School. She stated that she feels the Dress Code is discriminatory and asked, "Who is being distracted by leggings and crop tops?" She asked that the school board include students in formulating the dress code.

0:44:02 The second speaker was (Miss) Cameron Jenkins, also a 12th Grader at Blythewood High School.  She believes the Dress Code is outdated and no longer relevant. She mentioned cultural stigmas regarding doo-rags and hair picks. Feels that getting called out in class on the dress code wastes time and is more distracting than handling it discretely. 

0:46:10 Legislative update.

Skipping ahead. This meeting was two hours long, and I'm skipping ahead on the Index.

0:55:42 Second reading on Policies GBEB on Staff Conduct. Motion and Second. No discussion forthcoming. Vote: 6-0. Several policies were discussed under this catch-all.

Two weeks ago there was a lengthy discussion about what a teacher should do, if a student in crisis confided in him or her. Parents should know and understand whether a teacher might inadvertently expose himself to personal liability, if he did not immediately (quickly, instantly) direct the student to a counselor and extricate himself from any situation that look like, just by listening to the student, he could be "counseling" the student. The previous discussion included reference to a student who might trust a teacher but be skeptical about seeing a counselor. If the kid can't go to a teacher, then the kid might not seek any help at all.

Just getting this far through the meeting exhausted me. If you want more, watch the video.

* Correction of spelling of student's name. 4/20/19 gp

No campaign funds for fines

The South Carolina Ethics Commission has posted Advisory Opinion 2019-001 on its website, and you can read it here.

Basically, what it says is that a candidate or person elected to office cannot use campaign funds to pay fines and penalties assessed by the Ethics Commission.

There is an interesting comparison of the Ethics Commissions' opinions of the South Carolina House of Representatives and the South Carolina Senate. The House says "No, you can't", but the Senate says "Yes, you can."

The Ethics Commission, whose authority now exists over the House and the Senate, says, "No, you can't."

Unfortunately, the door was left ajar, as is revealed in the last sentence in the Opinion. It reads, "The Commission accepts the recommendation of the Commission staff that this Opinion be issued on a prospective basis only."

Does that mean that, if Amelia McKie has any campaign funds left over, she'll be able to use donated campaign funds to settle part of her $51,850 debt at the Ethics Commission? I wonder how her donors and supporters will feel about that.

Is "moral turpitude" involved?

Today's The State newspaper reports the sentence imposed on former Richland County Council member Kelvin Washington, who pled guilty on October 1st to first-offense DUI and two counts of second-degree assault and battery. The charges resulted from a DUI crash on February 27, 2016.

The wheels of justice do slowly turn in Richland County; right? Read the article to see the slap on the wrist administered to Washington by the court.

Included in the article was mention of Washington's removal from office a month after the crash (March 2016?) by former Gov. Nikki Haley. But she didn't throw him out of the office because of the DUI or assault and battery charges. She threw him out because of his conviction for "failure to pay three years' worth on state income taxes," according to the article in The State.

Gov. Haley considered that as "moral turpitude" and gave Washington the boot.

I suppose the key element there was not just that he hadn't paid three years' worth of state income taxes, but that he was convicted of that. And how long did that case take?

Which brings me to Richland 2 School District. (I imagine you were just waiting to find out.)

McKie filed a Statement of Economic Interests on August 15, 2014 and never filed another report with the South Carolina Ethics Commission until December 4, 2018.

On December 4, 2018 McKie filed Statements of Economic Interests for 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. The filing of the 2018 Statement on December 4 made her eligible to take the oath of office following her re-election to the School Board, but she has not taken an oath since then. She did take the oath of office on November 13, 2018, but that was in violation of S.C. Code of Laws Section 8-13-1110(A).

In 2019 McKie filed (late) Campaign Disclosure Forms for 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

McKie's debt to the Ethics Commission is $51,850, as of April 1, 2019.

If a person failed to file required Campaign Disclosure Forms with the South Carolina Ethics Commission for four years and also didn't file a required Statement of Economic Interests Reports, and god fines thousands of dollars for that, would that decision by the Ethics Commission constitute a "conviction" and open the door for the current Governor to remove said person from the School Board for the reason that Gov. Haley used when she removed Washington?

Is it optional for the Governor to do that? Or is it incumbent upon the Governor to do so?

The Governor's Office has told me that he doesn't have the authority to remove a school board member. That's untrue.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Remember the Empty Chair?

Amelia McKie was absent from the April 9, 2019 meeting of the Richland 2 School Board, but her chair was there and unoccupied for the meeting.

The Executive Session was called to orderat 5:30PM by Lindsay Agostini, who is the Secretary of the School Board. McKie's chair was empty, and I was curious why Mrs. Agostini was calling the meeting to order, rather than Dr. Elkins-Johnson, who is the Vice Chair. The red light on the microphone in front of Mrs. Agostini was on, but her voice was not amplified, and I did not hear all of what she said.

All of Mrs. Agostini's words during the open session should have been captured for the Richland 2 video-recording that will be available on YouTube within a few days. Because the red light of her microphone was off for the end of her remarks, I have some early doubts about their having been recorded.

The Board adjourned, after a short delay, and entered the Executive Session.

At 6:30PM the Board reconvened in open session and the Board's Vice Chair, Dr. Elkins-Johnson, called the meeting to order. McKie's chair was still empty. Superintendent Baron Davis was recognized, and he read a lengthy (and unnecessary, in my opinion) message from McKie about her absence that evening. Supt. Davis leaned forward and spoke directly into his microphone, and his voice was amplified into the room.

He read McKie's assurance that the Board was in good hands and how she knew they'd have a good meeting and how she hadn't missed a meeting in five years on the Board, and her message finished up with "May God bless you all".

Like, give me a break. I looked around for a blowing American Flag and the official Seal of the United States of America and wondered if I was about to hear "Hail to the Chief". It would have completely sufficient for the Vice Chair to read a short statement like "Mrs. McKie is away this evening on personal business."

I was reminded of how the Agenda is set for a meeting. McKie and Supt. Davis create it.

I wondered why McKie's chair remained empty. Perhaps there should have been a spotlight over it. Why didn't someone flip down her nameplate? Why didn't the other board members close ranks and leave an empty chair on the end? Why didn't the Vice Chair sit in the center? I didn't notice on Dr. Elkins-Johnson's nameplate whether it displayed "Chair" for the evening. At the same time I was reminded of Clint Eastwood's speech to the empty chair at the RNC in 2012.

Dr. Elkins-Johnson did a nice job of chairing the meeting. The meeting flowed smoothly from item to item.

The Inspirational Moment lasted far too long - again. Whoever invites the person to give the Inspiration Moment should tell him or her, "Two minutes - max."

Last night's School Focus was on Langford Elementary School, and the students were fantastic! Each spoke to the Board and provided a model for the Board to follow. Each spoke in full voice and clearly. It helped that the staff sound man set up the cordless microphone at the podium, so that their voices were amplified and audible throughout the room.

But that microphone was removed before the Public Participation period, and the two young women who addressed the Board could hardly be heard. I was interested, because each seemed to be presenting information about something that's wrong. More on this, after the video shows up on YouTube in a couple of days.

On the way into the meeting I was asked, "What's new?" My answer was "Lots, but I'm not ready to talk about it yet."

Stay tuned.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Integrity

Saw this on Facebook this morning.

"If you value your integrity, then be prepared to take a beating from those who have none." (Constable Wayne Thompson posted that.)

Years ago I heard someone say, "Integrity is what you do, when you know no one is watching."

Thoughts?

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Correct School Board Action on April 9

Every action being taken by the Richland 2 School Board can be called into question - every action since November 13, 2018.

That's when two persons were seated - improperly - on the School Board.

There are five legal members and two "others".

What can the five legal members do?

When the Board convenes at 5:30PM on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, the first motion will be to enter Executive (closed) Session.

The five legal members should vote "No". It is improper to have visitors at the Executive Session. If at least four legal members vote "No", there will not be an Executive Session.

There they can sit and twiddle their thumbs until the public session is scheduled to start at 6:30PM. They cannot discuss official business. Or they might adjourn until 6:30PM, which is the scheduled starting time of the public session.

When the motion is made to convene the public session, if seven are seated (plus the Superintendent), then four of the five (or all five) should again vote No.

If Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes stand up and leave the front of the room, then the five can vote "Yes" to re-convene and continue with the regular business of the meeting. The Vice Chair will run the meeting.

For McKie and Holmes to be legally on the Board, they must take the oath of office - legally; i.e., after December 4, 2018.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Who is for transparency and accountability?

I'm so glad I came across Brad Warthen's blog today. I got an education on the election race for the Richland 2 School Board in 2014. Remember that one? That's where race surfaced as an identity issue in the School Board race.

In case you forgot, check out Brad's blog right here.

In the linked article Brad leads off with "I really, really hated to see the first sentence of this story about the Richland School District 2 election:  'Race has become the defining issue in the Richland 2 school board election, as rumors circulate of a shift in power from a white-majority to a black-majority board.' "

Well down in the body of the article appears this "Because if Amelia McKie .. is elected, we’ll have a strong voice on R2’s school board who’ll fight for students, communicate with parents and demand real transparency and accountability."

Now that was back in 2014. Fast forward to 2018-2019.

Amelia McKie is the one who didn't file Campaign Disclosure Forms and Statements of Economic Interest Reports with the South Carolina Ethics Commission for several years. Amelia McKie now owes over $51,000 in fines and penalties to the Ethics Commission.

Amelia McKie is the one (well, one of them) who took the oath of office illegally on November 13, 2018 for her second term of office, 2018-2022.

How's that for transparency and accountability?

Who will demand "real transparency and accountability" from Amelia McKie? The Richland 2 Black Parents' Association has said that McKie's problem with the Ethics Commission is not about race; it's about ethics.

Will the BPA step up and put some pressure on McKie to obey S.C. Code of Laws 8-13-1110(A) and now legally take the oath of office?

Remembering Spring Valley H.S.and the SRO

Almost every week I think about the incident at Spring Valley High School in October 2015 that involved two disruptive students, a teacher, a staff member (Asst. Principal?) and the School Resource Officer (SRO). That was on

Just today I happened across a blog by Brad Warthen at   http://www.bradwarthen.com/2015/11/mia-mcleod-and-joel-lourie-on-spring-valley-protest/

I wish I had found it and him at the time.

In the article found through the above link are messages to S.C. Sen. John Scott from both S.C. Sen. Mia McLeod and former S.C. Sen. Joel Lourie.

You've got to read these messages, especially the view of Sen. McLeod who wrote about the "violently ejected student" (her 10/30/2015 message at 2:03PM to Sen. Scott). She clearly had her mind made about what had happened.

When the incident was first publicized, I began asking, "What happened before that?" - "that" being when Deputy Fields removed the student from her desk.

I heard about, but never saw, a video of what happened before "that"; apparently, that student slapped at Deputy Fields three times, resulting in her being removed from her desk. I wondered why The State didn't publish that video and also why it continued to use the "Glamour Shots" photo of the student who wasn't a minor, instead of her booking photo.

The Richland 2 policy regarding SRO involvement was not followed. When the assistant principal arrived, the teacher should have taken the rest of the class elsewhere, thus removing the audience of the non-compliant student. That procedure is in the National SRO manual and it's in the Richland 2 rules. And it didn't happen.

Be sure to read through comments posted after the above article.

Deputy Fields was fired too quickly, as then-Solicitor Dan Johnson said eleven months later, when he dismissed the Disruption of Schools charges against the two girls. I knew Fields had been fired too quickly at the time and I said so. In my opinion, it's too bad that Solicitor Johnson dropped those charges. Both girls deserved their day in court and to be found guilty of disrupting schools, which they clearly did.

I believe Deputy Fields' wrongful termination lawsuit is winding its way through court now.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Take the Oath or Go Home

Consider this scenario and comment below how you would view it.

What would be the proper name for a person who claims a public office but who is not entitled to hold it?

To hold a public office you must be qualified and eligible.

Being "qualified" means you are old enough, have the correct residency, are not disqualified because of criminal convictions, and are legally elected.

Being "eligible" means you meet all the requirements.

If you've been following this blog, you'll know where I'm going with this.

One of the requirements of being eligible is the filing of the Statement of Economic Interests Report with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. This reports reveals potential conflicts of interest and sources of income.

The law says you cannot take the oath of office or begin your duties unless you have filed that Statement.

How hard is that to understand? I'm thinking that a third-grader could understand it. It's kind of like, "Johnny, you don't get to go to fourth grade unless you have passed third grade. Understand?"

What does Johnny say? "I got it." If Johnny fails third grade but shows up for fourth grade, he can't get in.

If you take the oath of office before you file the Statement, the oath doesn't count (because the law says you cannot take it).

You can't begin your duties until you take the oath of office.

After you file the Statement, then you can take the oath and begin your duties.

So what do you call the person who doesn't follow the instructions and assumes the duties of the office?

1. An imposter?
2. A cheat?
3. A fraud?
4. A trespasser?
5. A usurper?

Do you think there is some risk, perhaps some breach of fiduciary duty, to the others on the Board for allowing unauthorized persons to carry on the duties of a Board member?

Is it time for the five legal Richland 2 School Board members to stand up and say, "Enough! Take the oath of office now or go home."

Next School Board Meeting - Tues., April 9, 6:30PM

Parents, voters, taxpayers are requested at the next Richland 2 School Board meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, April 9, 2019. Please plan to speak and remember to sign up on the two forms.

The public session starts at 6:30PM at R2i2.

The public session is preceded by an Executive Session at 5:30PM. A public session opens the 5:30PM meeting and the Board immediately votes to enter a closed Executive Session.

If Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes have not taken the oath of office by then, it is hoped that the five legal members of the Board will vote "No" on the motion to go to Executive Session.

In the Executive Session there is discussion about confidential student matters, including suspension, expulsions, transfers, referral for mental health treatment at LRADAC, and other matters specified on a special Agenda. NO decisions can be made in Executive Session and NO action can be taken. Matters must be voted on in the public session, although the public will not know who Student 1 or Student 2 is.

The Executive Session is closed to the public. Only legal Board members should be allowed in it. Since November 13, 2018, the five legal members of the Board have allowed McKie and Holmes in the Executive Sessions.

This needs to stop. Now.

Do laws matter? Do ethics matter? Where are we headed, if they don't matter?


Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Not even one Board member

Last night there was an educational reform presentation at the Sandhills Library. It was sponsored by State Representatives Ivory Thigpen (House District 79) and Kambrell Garvin (District 77). Joining them at the front of the room was Michael Anzelmo, Chief of Staff to S.C. House Speaker Jay Lucas, and Joanie Lawson, Government Relations Specialist at the South Carolina Education Association.

I'd like to say that the third-floor library auditorium was full. I'd like to say it was half-full. A quarter-full? There were about thirty in the audience, with the majority appearing to be teachers and members of SC for Ed. The youngest member of the audience was 5, and he was very well behaved while the "grown-ups" talked for 90 minutes.

As I looked around, I did not see one Richland 2 School Board member. (If I missed you, my apologies.)

Rep. Thigpen had told me about this meeting on March 25, or I wouldn't have known of it. Although it was being held at the library, it was not on the library's online calendar. And it wasn't on the Richland 2 calendar.

S.C. House Bill 3759 has been sent to the S.C. Senate, where it will be considered while the Senate works up its own Bill, S. 419. This legislative session will end early in May.

If you are a parent, student or taxpayer, you'll want to pay attention to this educational reform bill. Now is the time to contact your State Senator and express your comments and requests.

At the March 25 educational reform presentation, sponsored by Sen. Mia McLeod, there was a comment that South Carolina and Mississippi are fighting hard for the bottom ranking of Education. Should it be that way? For how much longer?

If you are a teacher in Richland 2, let me hear your stories about your classrooms and discipline. Is it as bad as the rumors? Your privacy and confidentiality are safe with me.

Rep. Thigpen is planning another meeting on educational reform. I'll get the details on April 4 and publish them.

What would YOU call this?

Let's say a person walked into your business, sat down at a desk and started answering the phone and writing checks on your business account. What would you do?

Or let's say a person bought a badge, pinned it on the front of his shirt and started writing tickets to jaywalkers? What would you do?

Or a person walked into a bank, hopped over the counter, cleaned out the till and walked out?

Or let's say a person took an oath of office when she wasn't legally entitled to, and then sat in a selected chair at public meetings, heard confidential student matters, voted on them, or maybe even ran meetings?

When a person assumes duties in a "public body" (ex., state, city, county government; school board) to which she is not entitled and is allowed to do so unchallenged by other equal members of that public body, what would YOU call this?

There isn't just one person who has assumed such duties. There are two such persons. And right here on the Richland 2 School Board.

The problem is that, when each took the oath of office on November 13, 2018 and entered upon official duties, neither was eligible to do so - under South Carolina law! Section 8-13-1110(A).

Neither had filed the required Statement of Economic Interests with the South Carolina Ethics. Commission. Each filed that Statement on December 4, 2018. Neither has taken the oath of office after filing the Statement.

Therefore, neither is legally on the Board. Yet there they sit.

This continues to be a problem not only for the two women there illegally, but now also for the five legal members of the Board who are doing nothing to stop them. And will the problem overflow to the Superintendent?

Couldn't he - shouldn't he - advise the five legal members of the Board that Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes need to be sworn in?

Doing so will force the District to acknowledge that it has been operating since November 13, 2018 with two persons improperly involved in Board matters. Many votes will have to be undone. Some matters concerning students will be reversed.

What can you do? Email or phone Board members (names and phone numbers on Richland 2's website) and tell them to fix this now.

Monday, April 1, 2019

McKie still owes $51,850 - no foolin'

According to the South Carolina Ethics Commission, as of today, April 1, 2019, Amelia McKie still owes $51,850 in fines and penalties.

According to other media stories, the amount owed increased by $10,000 on January 1, when she failed to make a payment by December 31, 2018.

The Ethics Commission attempts to collect debts itself, before turning the debt over to the South Carolina Department of Revenue (DOR). The DOR charges 22% of the amount collected, so it stands to earn $11,407, if it can squeeze the full amount out of McKie.

Other media reports indicate that another Richland 2 Board member owed $65,000 to the Ethics Commission, but he was able to bargain it down to $6,500. Now that is some bargaining, if I do say so myself. That was for a 2014 complaint.

McKie's complaint at the Ethics Commission was Complaint No. 2017-023. The complaint itself is recorded as Resolved, but the debt remains outstanding.

Should a person with an Ethics Commission debt be allowed to hold office? Please comment below.