Friday, May 31, 2019

Ridge View HS teacher quits

Local news is reporting that the Ridge View High School teacher who was involved in a classroom fight on May 28 has quit.

At least one media outlet reported that a deputy told the kid's mother that she could file charges. Well, what do you think she said?

Her sweet, little boy would never cause a problem at school, would he?

Maybe, instead of metal detectors at entrances, there should be video-cameras in every classroom!!!

The deputy should have investigated the full incident and then charged the one who started it. Media is reporting that the kid shoved the teacher. OK, if that is what started it, then ONE person gets charged - the kid!!!

What do you think happens in a classroom and a school, when a kid shoves a teacher and gets away with it? He'll be strolling around with his pants down to his knees, acting like King of the Jungle.

I've written before about the Culturally Relevant Pedagogy brainchild of CSU's Prof. Gloria Boutte.

Is a teacher supposed to just understand that some "children" grow up pushing others around or, as Board Trustee James Shadd, "speak loudly"? And that makes it okay in a classroom?

NO, it does not! While no teacher (white or black) should ever have to defend himself from a student, he also should not be required to stand down if attacked.

The teacher will get a good lawyer and sue the District.

The student's family will get a lawyer and sue the District.

For the District, it's lose-lose.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Fight at RVHS

Will the student(s) who video-recorded the classroom fight at Ridge View High School yesterday be disciplined?

The School Board spent a lot of time gnashing their teeth and word-smithing a revision to a Board Policy that pertains to use of cell phones in schools. That Policy may have been directed at employees, rather than at students.

Obviously, at least one student had a cell phone handy yesterday, when a fight broke out between a student and a teacher (teacher, not employee, per WIS-TV).

Policy JICJ Use of Electronic Communication Devices in School
Policy JICJ reads, in part: "Students are prohibited from using ECDs to capture, record or transmit the words (i.e. audio) and/or images (i.e. pictures, video) of any student, staff member or other person in the school or while attending a school-related activity without express prior notice and explicit consent for the capture, recording or transmission of such words or images. Using an ECD to take or transmit audio and/or pictures/video of an individual without his/her consent is considered an invasion of privacy and is not permitted, unless authorized by the building principal." (Last revision 8/11/2015)

A better question is why didn't the students in the room intercede and stop the fight? Surely, there were some decent-sized boys in the room who could have separated them. WIS-TV inaccurately reported the fight and failed to comment on the engagement by the student. Notice how he doesn't step back when the two are temporarily apart.

Nary a word was spoken

Guess it's a good thing I didn't wear my favorite tie to last night's Richland 2 School Board meeting. I came >>>/this/<<< close to wearing it.

You'd have thought all was quiet on the Western Front. Nary a word was spoken about an fight earlier in the day involving an employee (teacher?) and a student at Ridge View High School, one of Richland 2's five high schools.

WIS-TV's first story was at 5:47PM, and it was updated today at 10:20AM. The incident must have  occurred shortly before 1:00PM on Tuesday, May 28, 2019, as WIS-TV reported that the SRO responded at 1:00PM.

Wouldn't you think there would have been some mention at the school board meeting? Okay, so no details. But why treat people showing up at a school board meeting like mushrooms? There was a valuable "teaching moment" about transparency, and the Board missed it.

The principal of Ridge View HS was at the school board meeting. Was the principal, Brenda Mack-Foxworth, Ed.D. told, in no uncertain terms, that she was not to mention one word about the fight?

Maybe the rule is, "If it ain't on the Agenda, we ain't talkin' 'bout it." Do you think that, if the R2i2 building caught on fire, there would be no announcement because it wasn't on the Agenda?

Let's see if Richland 2 throws the teacher under the bus. The smart move will be to make a thorough, independent investigation of what happened, who started it, who prolonged it and what previous trouble, if any, there had been with that student.

Richland 2 might do that, but what the public will hear is, "The District does not comment on personnel matters."

Will the kid be arrested for disturbing schools or assaulting a teacher?

Trustee Manning - MIA 5/28/19

At last night's Richland 2 School Board meeting Trustee James Manning was absent. His name plate was there, but he wasn't. Not only that, his name was never mentioned during the meeting.

You may remember my comments about the lengthy message read by Supt. Davis, when Amelia McKie missed a meeting. It went on and on. So where was a mention last night about Mr. Manning's absence?

When it came time for votes last night, any record of his vote (or lack thereof) was ignored. The four choices for a vote on a Motion are:
Not Present at Vote

Why were votes recorded, for example, as 6-0, instead of 6-0-0-1?

Was this a subtle snub at Mr. Manning by the person in charge of the meeting? Was it intentional or just done in ignorance?

One of these days the School Board is going to have to review ALL votes taken on and since November 13, 2018. Votes that came out as 3-4 (Failing), such as on the Resolution to allow the Board to remove an Officer, actually would have Passed, when the votes of McKie and Holmes are tossed out. Other votes, for example, on student matters would have had different outcomes.

At last night's meeting the vote by the Board to pass the proposed Agenda for the June 11, 2019 meeting actually failed. The vote was 4-2. But, when you toss the votes of McKie and Holmes, who are not legal members of the School Board, then the vote was 2-2. A tie-vote is considered failing. So there is no approved agenda for June 11, 2019.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Parents question the cell phone tower plans

At tonight's school board meeting, parents continued to question the plans of Richland 2 to construct a cell phone tower on the grounds of Kelly Mill Middle School.

One parent told me they are having trouble getting a meeting arranged with the superintendent and getting answers to the questions about the status of that cell phone tower construction at Kelly Mill.

Based on the "information meeting" on April 24, 2019, I think it's a "done deal". I think Richland 2 contracted at some time in the past for the construction of towers on the grounds of several schools.

Tonight one of the parents told me they have filed a Freedom of Information Act Request with Richland 2, so they should be getting answers to their questions.

At the May 14, 2019 school board meeting Mrs. Agostini asked Amelia McKie for a future agenda to include a cell phone tower update. No other board member backed her up, and her request died at the table.

This school board, as presently composed, has too many followers and too few members who are demanding accountability of themselves.

Weren't they listening when the staffer presented the Leadership Development Update. I heard "Demonstrate Integrity and Character at all times."

That bears repeating.

"Demonstrate Integrity and Character at all times."

Contract has been signed

During tonight's school board meeting, during the discussion for the Agenda for the June 11, 2019 meeting, Trustee Lindsay Agostini requested the bond attorney to attend the Executive Session

Supt. Davis said, "The contract has already been signed." By the "contract" did he mean the bond documents that contacted two provisions that Mrs. Agostini had refused to sign as Board Secretary? Mrs. Agostini was seeking information from the bond attorney (and the Administration) about why the Board had not been briefed on the documents and, especially, on the two questionable provisions that resulted in her resignation as Board Secretary at the end of April.

Trustee Elkins-Johnson said the Board should get an explanation when one is requested.

Trustee Caution-Parker asked if the District would have to pay for the bond attorney to attend and said it was a "waste of time".

The Board voted on whether to invite the bond attorney to the Executive Session. The vote was 3-3; a tie meant it failed. BUT the correct vote 2-2, when the votes of McKie and Holmes are tossed. But that was still a Fail.

Then the Board voted to approve the Agenda for the June 11, 2019 meeting (without the bond attorney). That vote was 4-2 (Passed), BUT the true vote (without votes of McKie and Holmes) was 2-2, a tie, which meant that it Failed.

Here's the problem, as I see it. I don't have any "inside" information. All I know if what I have heard at public meetings. Anyone who attended or who has watched the meetings on YouTube knows as much as I know about it.

The Board apparently did not get to review the bond documents that it was being asked to authorize.

The Board didn't get to read, review and question to the special additional paragraphs. Those were the Certificate of Incumbency and the Signature and No-Litigation Certificate.

Apparently, the Board never saw or considered a Resolution that would authorize the Board Chair and the Board Secretary to sign those documents on behalf of Richland School District Two.

The Certificate of Incumbency stated that Amelia McKie is the Board Chair and that her term-of-office as Board Chair is July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019. Those statements are false.

The Signature and No-Litigation Certificate was designed to relieve bondholders of worries about significant legal woes related to Amelia McKie's problems with the Ethics Commission. Factually, that Certificate was correct, insofar as it went. But it didn't go far enough. It was incomplete and misleading.

When one certificate is false and the other is incomplete and misleading, that can only mean trouble ahead for a $468,000,000 set of public-finance bonds.

It is going to take a strong legal step to correct the problems that have been allowed to continue since November 13, 2018.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

About the school board's attorney

Following is the School Board Policy that describes its attorney's relationship with it. See if you can spot the immediate problem...

Policy BDG Board Attorney/Legal Services

Issued 8/17
The complexity of school board operations requires the frequent procurement of legal services. Consequently, the board, by majority vote, may designate an attorney or law firm to counsel the board and administration on legal matters involving the district’s welfare.
The attorney will serve at the pleasure of the board and will be paid for services rendered.
The board may ask the attorney to attend such board meetings or other meetings as may be needed. A decision to seek legal advice or assistance on behalf of the school system may be made by the superintendent, the board, or may take place as a consequence of formal board direction. Such action will be taken as consistent with board policy and as it meets an obvious need of the board. It may take place as a consequence of formal board direction.
Except in unusual circumstances, the board will make all communications to the board attorney through the superintendent or board chairman.
Adopted 10/1/72; Revised 1/28/75, 8/12/97, 3/25/03, 8/8/17

Got it? It shows up in the last paragraph, just above the dates of adoption and revisions to the policy.

Part of that paragraph makes complete sense. An organization can't allow seven trustees to be calling the board's attorney all the time. When the phone rings, the attorney starts the meter; when the attorney hangs up, the meter stops. Well, then there is that other meter that keeps running.

Most legal questions should be funneled past the superintendent or the board chair (if there is a board chair). In the case of the Richland 2 School Board, there is no legal Board Chair.

The attorney for the District and the attorney for the legal work on the $468,000,000 bonds simply cannot know that the Richland 2 School Board has been operating since November 13, 2018 with two vacancies. Mrs. McKie is not a legal board member (and, thus, cannot be Chair), and Ms. Holmes is not a legal board member.

I would say that these two vacancies create the "unusual circumstances" under which any Board member should have already called the attorney for the District.

Board to self-evaluate annually

Two years ago, on April 18, 2017, the Richland 2 School Board adopted this Policy. Has it been followed?

Have three board evaluations (2017, 2018, 2019) been conducted? Has a summary report been presented to the public after each evaluation? Have two? Has one? When will the next evaluation be conducted?

How detailed is the questionnaire offered by the South Carolina School Boards Association?

Policy BAA Board Self-Evaluation

"Issued 4/17
"The school board is committed to quality, excellence, growth, and leading by example. To that end, the board will conduct annual self-evaluations during a special meeting.
"Self-assessment by the board provides valuable information, discussion, and communication in an effort to build a unified body of effective leaders. The evaluation will assist the board, as a governance team, in continuous improvement of the following areas:
  • providing a starting point for effective goal setting and long-range planning
  • allowing new board members an opportunity to understand board processes, roles, and responsibilities
  • identifying strengths and weaknesses of the board as a public body and steps for board development
  • improving decision making by enhancing a common understanding of philosophies and goals
  • fostering open communication
  • holding the board accountable to themselves and the district
"SCSBA will assist the board with the annual evaluation by providing the assessment instrument, analysis, and feedback on how the board may improve its operation.
"Following the evaluation, the board chairman will make a summary report of the process at the next regularly scheduled board meeting.
"Adopted 4/18/17"

Note that the Policy, as written by and adopted by the school district, states that the SCSBA "will" assist the board. That's just shy of "shall assist", and the degree of assistance is greater than "may assist" or "might assist" or "is available to assist" the Richland 2 School Board.

What are "self-evaluations"? Does each board member evaluate himself? Are the evaluations 360º; i.e., each board member evaluates himself and is evaluated by each other board member?

Can the Richland 2 School Board really evaluate itself? Honestly? This is not a rhetorical question. I mean, can they do an honest evaluation of themselves? Some of them can and will. Others? Not so sure.

What happens if one or more board members gets negative feedback from the other board members?

Is the superintendent absent from the board evaluations process? He should be (absent). He shouldn't supervise, coach or monitor the evaluation process.

Is the assessment instrument available for review? How about the individual assessment results? Nothing in Policy BAA says the information is private. It should all be available upon request or by FOIA.

Note that the Policy reads "during a special meeting"; it does not read "during executive session". This means that the evaluations are to be done in public. And the special meeting should be recorded and published on YouTube.

Read carefully the accountability requirement, which is "to themselves and the district". By "district" (lower-case), does this policy mean to the taxpayers, voters, parents, students, community members? Or does "district" mean to the school district, which they govern?

Friday, May 24, 2019

Board members: review Policy BEDL

Certain Richland 2 Board members should take a few minutes and review Policy BEDL Board Members and Electronic Communications.

This Policy pertains to the use of devices such as cell phones, tablets, computers, etc. for communication during meetings with the public.

At the budget input meetings held recently, several board members spent time with their electronic devices and appeared to be reading messages and texting or emailing.

Those were public meetings and are subject to FOIA. As such, all communications are public. The audience cannot read what a board member is reading or writing on an electronic device.

Also, all communications should be audible; i.e., spoken into the microphones so that the voice is amplified and can be heard throughout the room. This rules out "side" conversations.

If you watch the videorecording of the May 20, 2019 on YouTube, the first 30 minutes is the budget input period, followed by the Special Called Board meeting at 5:30PM. Note the number of times electronic devices are in use and also how you cannot hear any of the conversations among the board members during that public meeting.

Cell Phone Tower Update - Kelly Mill MS

What is the status of the proposed cell phone tower at Kelly Mill Middle School, located at 1141 Kelly Mill Road, Blythewood?

Following are the recent official comments from the Administration and the School Board about that tower:

"                                                                                                                                 "

That's it. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. Ничего.

There was a public information meeting on April 24. The meeting room at the Sandhills Library was packed, and almost everyone thought that their attendance, questions and concerns would be considered by the School Board. Near the end the audience was reminded that it was an "information" meeting. In other words, the purpose of the meeting was to give information. One District staffer was present. No school board member attended.

Few understood that their input that night was little more than words that would never be considered.

At the May 14, 2019 School Board meeting Trustee (and former Board Secretary) Lindsay Agostini asked Mrs. McKie to put a cell phone tower update on the Agenda for a future meeting. To hear her request, watch the video-recording of the May 14th meeting on YouTube. Fast-forward to (3:38:03) on the time-counter.

Be sure to watch this segment of the long board meeting. Supt. Davis finished his lengthy oration about the agenda proposed for May 28 at (3:36:41) on the YouTube recording's time-counter. During his recitation McKie was busy fanning herself; it was not hot in the room. Is she well? Then there was a 20-second delay while McKie stared at her tablet and scrolled forward. During that time she kept Mrs. Agostini waiting.

The Agenda for the May 28, 2019 school board meeting has been published on the District 2 website. There is NO cell phone tower update.

If you want to know the status of the planned cell phone tower at Kelly Mill Middle School, send your written request to Supt. Davis at  Be specific about what you want to know. You might want to ask:

Does the cell phone tower at Kelly Mill MS require any further approval by the School Board before construction begins?
When will construction begin?
When will construction be complete?
When will the cell tower go into operation?
How many more cell towers can be built on Richland 2 school grounds without further school board approval?
When was the contract executed for the cell phone towers?
And for how many towers?

Do you want the Board to make a public statement (cell phone tower update) at a school board meeting? Email the superintendent and put your request in writing. Refer to Board Policy BEDH as your authority to make your request. Also, email your school board members.

Board Policy BEDH reads, in part,

"Citizens wanting an item to be placed on the agenda for a specific board meeting should direct requests to the superintendent or board chairman. A citizen must submit a written request for an item to be placed on the agenda a minimum of three business days prior to a scheduled meeting of the board. That request will state the name of the individual or group submitting the request, the address, the purpose of the request, and the topic to be addressed."

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Tell or wait?

If you suspect that a Federal crime is about to be committed, do you tell someone? Or do you wait until it happens and then report it?

If you can prevent its happening, is that best? Should you try to keep people from doing something really bad, especially if all they have to do is pause, realize that they are doing something criminal and make a different decision about an action they are about to take?

If one person in a group is wise enough to perceive the problem and avoid it, shouldn't that be a strong clue to the others?

How big a problem is generated by being a Follower, instead of a Leader?

One of the problems at the Richland 2 School Board is that it is being led, rather than doing the leading.

At the last Regular meeting of the school board (May 14) Amelia McKie said at least twice that the "majority of the board" supports the superintendent. And she said it with emphasis on "majority". Who are those four (or more)? Why would she make such a divisive statement?

McKie might just as well have said, "There are some on this board, the minority of the board, who do not support the superintendent."

I would assert that would be an untrue statement, and I'm glad she did not say those words.

What is the Federal crime that is about to be committed? Can you guess? Put your guess in the Comment box below.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Recording conversations, phone calls

Have you ever wanted to record an IEP* or other meeting with a school official (teacher, department head, principal, administrator)?

Have you taken a tape-recorder or digital recorder to a meeting? Were you ever told you could not record the meeting, such as an IEP?

Can you record the meeting without telling the other person or persons?

The answer is Yes.

South Carolina is a one-party consent state. At least one party must know that the conversation (phone or in-person) is being recorded. If you are recording it, then you are that "one person".

If I am in the meeting with you and am participating (for example, as an advocate for your child in his IEP), then I can record the conversation.

However, if you and a school employee (or any other person) are speaking by telephone and I'm listening in (and they don't know it), then I cannot record the conversation without the permission of at least one person; e.g., you. If I fail to get the consent of at least one person, then I'm committing a felony. And that won't look good on my resume.

Personally, I think it's a good idea to inform all that the meeting (or phone call) is being recorded. If the other person doesn't want to be recorded, he can leave. Or not speak. I don't like being sneaky. I encourage you not to like it, either.

* IEP is Individualized Education Plan

School Board abdicates responsibility

Should the Richland 2 School Board abdicate responsibility and pass all the bucks along to the superintendent? Absolutely not!

It is the School Board that is elected by the public, and the School Board is responsible to the public. If a member of the public makes a complaint to a school board member, that member of the public is entitled to a response. And the appropriate response might come from the board member.

Board Policies do a good job at attempting to muzzle board members. And, indeed, board members should be cautious about responding. Any one board member cannot speak for the Board or obligate the Board. But that does not mean a board member cannot respond!

Board Policy BBAA, Board Member Authority And Responsibilities includes this condition: "Questions, requests, complaints, and other information presented to individual board members outside of a board meeting by members of the public should be referred to the superintendent."

This is absolutely wrong and "should" should be changed without delay.

There would likely be no reason to avoid informing the superintendent of a complaint, but there should NOT be a condition that the board member must refer it to the superintendent.

This condition rips the floor right out from under the authority of the School Board. 

The receiving member might refer the complaint to the superintendent with a request to handle and to include the board member on any written response. If the response is telephonic, then a Memo should be sent to the board member. 

Lately, the Board has been inundated with Board Policy revisions "brought forward" by the administration. It will take a Motion by a board member and a decision by the Board to direct the superintendent to prepare a revision to BBAA. Which board member(s) will carry the flag on this one?

Comments, anyone?

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

May Day - at what cost?

From the Richland 2 School District website:

"During the May 14, 2019 board meeting, the Richland Two Board of Trustees voted to forgive the day of school missed on May 1."

How much did May Day cost Richland 2 School District? No one asked that question at the May 14 school board meeting?

Has the school board directed the superintendent to create a contingency plan for the next time the teachers say they are going to strike?

The school board needs to be reminded that it is Management. The teachers are Labor.

Next time the teachers decide to protest, the superintendent and the school board must be ready. They should have been ready the last time.

Unfortunately, the majority on the school board is sympathetic to the whims of the teachers. Many of the board members vocalized support for the teachers and even said they would be attending the protest.

For this reason, voters should be prepared at the next election (November 2020) to replace those board members who stood in favor of the disruption of schools. Thank them, and show them the door.

At the next election bring in board members who have experience at running a business and understand that it is the Board that directs the superintendent. Direct the superintendent to be prepared to grant a small number of requests for personal leave, so that the business of providing education will not be impaired.

Monday, May 20, 2019

May 20 Special Called Board Meeting

There were eight community members, including some Richland 2 employees, at tonight's School Board meeting, which started at 5:30PM.

For a thirty-minute period prior to this meeting, there was a public hearing on the budget. One person spoke.

How did Richland 2 publicize this meeting? Did it?

On the official Meetings webpage of the District, the Special Called Board Meeting was posted. HOWEVER, it did not state the 5:30PM Starting Time. The announcement contained the boiler-plate language. Here is how the webpage read:


Upcoming Meeting:

   Tuesday, May 20, 2019
   Special Called Meeting

When — The School Board meets twice monthly on the second and fourth Tuesdays. Executive session at 5:30 p.m., and public session begins at 6:30 p.m. Special meetings, work sessions and hearings are held when necessary.
On the way out I was approached by a woman who was showing up for the Board meeting. Imagine her disappointment at having made the trip to R2i2, only to find the meeting was over!

Various members of the Board engaged in private conversations during the 5:00-5:30PM budget input session, since no one else spoke. Other board members were observed reading their phones.

Whose job is it to teach the board members how to conduct themselves during public meetings? There should be NO side conversations. Everything said by a board member should be spoken loudly enough to be heard throughout the room and on the YouTube recording. There should be no use of cell phones during meetings; no texting - sent or received; no email usage, because the public cannot know whether the content has to do with the meeting.

Freedom of Information Act rules apply. No secret conversations during board meetings. Whatever an official says at a public meeting is public and should be heard by all. It's called transparency.

New Board officers - June election

The time is fast approaching for the Richland 2 School Board to elect its Officers for the 2019-2020 school year. That election will be on June 25, 2019 at the Regular school board meeting. The officers are elected by the board members. Note: there are, at this time, five legal school board members and two legal vacancies.

Current officers are
Chair - Amelia McKie *
Vice Chair - Monica Elkins-Johnson
Secretary - James Shadd

* The legitimacy of the current occupant in the Chair's role has been under fire since January 2019. Amelia McKie owes $51,750 in fines and penalties to the S.C. Ethics Commission, as of 5/20/19. She took the oath of office on November 13, 2018 in violation of S.C. Code of Laws 8-13-1110(A), before she was legally eligible to take the oath. McKie's term of office as a Board Member and as Chair legally ended on November 6, 2018.

The Officers' term-of-office is July 1 to June 30. The next term-of-office for Officers will not be interrupted by an election.

The School Board members and their current terms-of-office are
Lindsay Agostini (2016-2020)
Monica Elkins-Johnson (2016-2020)
James Shadd (2016-2020)
Cheryl Caution-Parker (2018-2022)
Teresa Holmes (2018-2022)
James Manning (2018-2022)
Amelia McKie (2018-2022)

I hope that the Board might consider these Trustees for positions as Officers:
Chair: James Manning
Vice Chair Monica Elkins-Johnson
Secretary Lindsay Agostini

They have the experience and the integrity to do the job right.

Edited 5/25/19

Sunday, May 19, 2019

A lie doesn't become truth...

Read this on Facebook today...

"A lie doesn't become truth,
wrong doesn't become right, and
evil doesn't become good,
just because it's accepted by a majority."

- Booker T Washington (1856-1915)

I believe there is a message in these words for the Richland 2 School Board.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Open Letter to Supt.

Today I sent the following email to Richland 2 Supt. Baron Davis:

"I am writing to request that Richland 2 video-record and publish the May 20, 2019 5:00PM Special Called Board Meeting, including the budget public hearing, and all future Special Board Meetings.

"I have inquired about the video of the April 23, 2019 meeting, The staff member said she would check on it, but I haven't received a further reply. Was it recorded?

"Will you please discuss with the Board whether the Minutes of the April 23, 2019 are sufficient? The Minutes provide no detail  The meeting was hours-long (5:30PM-7:27PM), and there is no record of what was discussed beyond the briefest of general wording.

"Will you please ask the Board's guidance on whether future Minutes of all official meetings should be reflect a greater description of the business transacted?"

Was there a Resolution for the bond documents?

A very serious question has arisen at the Richland 2 School Board about documents connected with the $468,000,000 bond that voters approved in November 2018. The question pertains to wording in two certifications that appear to have been added to the standard bond-document language.

Previously, I have written about the "Certificate of Incumbency" and the "Signature and No-Litigation Certificate".

It was over these that the Board Secretary, Lindsay Agostini, resigned her position as Board Secretary. She continues to serve on the School Board.

She resigned as Board Secretary to avoid the risk of personal and civil liability by signing those bond documents.

According to her public statement on April 30, 2019 School Board meeting she was to be briefed on those documents at the April 23rd "workshop" (Special Board meeting). She wasn't. The first time she saw the documents was after her personal attorney reviewed them.

When matters happen, or don't happen, at official meetings, it is because of planning, cooperation and decisions between the Board Chair and the Superintendent. They make the final decision of the Agenda.

The board should have been fully briefed on those documents in public. Board members should have asked questions and received answers. And then there should have been a Resolution that authorized the Board Chair and the Board Secretary to sign on behalf of the District.

In other words, the full Board takes the responsibility and bears the weight (and consequences) of the authority, completeness, honesty, truthfulness and accuracy of the documents to be signed.

No video of the April 23, 2019 Special Board Meeting has yet been published by the District on its website or YouTube. Was the meeting recorded?

The Minutes of the April 23, 2019 are completely insufficient. It is impossible to know what happened at that meeting from the written Minutes.

Is race dividing the school board?

Today I saw this posting on Facebook. I presume it is correctly attributed. It sounds like something Candace Owens would say, and I agree with it.

"American is not a racist country. Anyone claiming otherwise has a vested interest in keeping us divided. The easiest way to maintain power over any group is to keep those within it at war with one another."

Earlier this year there was an inference that those who complained about Amelia McKie's ethics violations, fines and penalties ($51,000+ worth) were racially motivated.

I heard second-hand that the president of the Richland 2 Black Parents Association said that the claim against McKie was not racist and that it's about ethics. I have tried to reach him through Facebook, but there has been no response. If anyone knows whether he so commented at a school board meeting, please let me know and I'll search the videos on YouTube for his comment.

At the May 14, 2019 McKie referred several times to the "majority of the board" being supportive of Supt. Davis. I'm going to ask her to name the four (or all) on the board who are supportive of Supt. Davis. Would that be Holmes, Caution-Parker, Shadd and herself? All of whom are black. And Shadd, who is black? And Elkins-Johnson,  who is black? Is their support, in McKie's opinion, because the superintendent is black? What about Manning and Agostini, who are white?

Is McKie really making a racially-divisive statement, when she said - more than once - the "majority of the board" supports Supt. Davis?

I will venture a guess that all of the Board are supportive of Supt. Davis. And it doesn't have anything to do with black or white. He is a strong administrator. He has a big job. He is doing most of it well.

Nobody agrees with everything that any administrator does. Disagreeing with an action of the Superintendent is appropriate, when it is called for. What's important to the top administrator in any business is to keep the majority of his bosses (Directors or Trustees) happy. If he doesn't, he's likely to find himself out of a job.

The legal issue over the addenda to the bond documents shows a weakness on the part of the Board Chair and the majority of the board. It was wrong of the administration to fail to brief the Board on the bond documents, with full disclosure and explanation of the two questionable addenda.

The Board should have put an immediate stop to what was happening, and then Mrs. Agostini wouldn't have been forced to stand on principle and resign as Board Secretary.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Bond document - True but incomplete and misleading

On April 30, 2019 Lindsay Agostini resigned as Board Secretary of the Richland 2 School Board. She continues to serve as a Trustee of the School Board.

Her reason for resigning was the personal or civil risk she believed she might have, if she signed two documents associated with the half-Billion dollars in new bonds for the School District. For more detail about her resignation, click here.

Mrs. Agostini did not want to sign as Board Secretary on the Certificate of Incumbency. As Custodian of Official Records of the District, she was being asked to confirm McKie is Board Chair and to confirm McKie's dates of office as Board Chair as 7/1/2018 - 6/30/2019.

Mrs. Agostini did not want the personal risk of signing official documents that might not be true.

Mrs. Agostini also refused to sign the "Signature and No-Litigation Certificate" and she read the language of that addendum:

"The school district is aware that members of the public have called for the resignation of the current board chair because of fines owed by the board chair to the South Carolina State Ethics Commission and because the Board Chair did not have on file a current Statement of Economic Interest prior to being sworn into a second term as a member of the board. The school district is not aware of any litigation, regulatory effort or official proceeding challenging the board's right [sic] and title to serve as a board member or board chair.”

Mrs. Agostini and I have not spoken about these documents, and I have no idea what her attorney told her.

My opinion? 

While the wording is factually correct, it is incomplete and significantly misleading. She was right not to sign. 

I think it is a very dangerous act to mislead bondholders of a half-billion dollar set of bonds. If the underwriter knew the entire story, would they be nervous about selling these bonds? 

I was a Series 7 stockbroker years ago, and these addenda are red flags. Corporate bond purchasers do read prospectuses. Does the Richland 2 bond attorney really understand the serious questions about McKie?

Will Mr. Shadd protect himself by also refusing to sign?

Henry M. Robert - DOA 5/14/2019

If Henry M. Robert had been at the May 14, 2019 Richland 2 School Board meeting, he would have been pronounced DOA at 10:30PM. Lucky for him, he died in 1923 at age 86.

Mr. Robert published Robert's Rules of Order in 1876.

The Richland 2 Board would be well-advised to purchase a copy for each board member and superintendent and to commence a year's study of the Rules. And apply them.

If they did, there would never be another four-hour board meeting.

From its website,, comes "Robert's Rules of Order is the standard set of rules first published in 1876 by Henry M. Robert to run orderly meetings with maximum fairness to all members.".

What a concept! "Maximum fairness to all members" That would include not subjecting them to the cruel and unusual punishment and torture of a four-hour meeting (after 90 minutes of other meetings).

Special Board Meeting - May 20, 2019, 5:00PM

A Special Meeting of the Richland 2 School Board has been called for Monday, May 20, 2019 at 5:00PM.

The entire meeting is scheduled as open.

From 5:00-5:30PM there is a public input session on the budget for 2019-2020.

Leave your kids at school or at their after-school function and attend this meeting.
Leave work early so you can be there.
Tell your kids that there are left-overs in the refrigerator and that they are on their own for dinner.
Tell them not to put metal in the microwave.
Feed the dog early.

At 6:30PM the Board is set to approve the 2019-2020 Budget and will vote on three more of those "most important" Board Policies that must have their valuable attention.

There is no Public Participation segment in the Special Meeting.

Will this public meeting, from 5:00PM to the time of adjournment, be recorded and posted on YouTube?

Where is the video of the April 23, 2019 Special Meeting? On May 8 I inquired when it would be posted, and the responder said she would check on it.

Did an ethics violation occur on May 14?

While Amelia McKie was lavishing praise on Supt. Davis in her closing comments at the May 14, 2019 Board meeting, she threw in a statement that, to me, appeared to be unethical.

I think she thanked every living soul in Richland County, except me, as she said (at 3:53:38):

"I thank you all who are continuing to focus on policies that affect our district and, by doing so,
honoring the 26,000-plus voters who sent me here for my fifth year of service."

This is a political statement and cannot be allowed at a meeting of a public body.

I intend to find out whether this is a violation of South Carolina Ethics laws.

School District employees do not do their jobs to "honor" those who voted for McKie. They do their jobs because they like the work and get paid to do it. It has absolutely nothing to do with the voters!

"Wiil of the Board" - what is it?

The phrase "will of the board" is starting to creep into use at Richland 2 School Board meetings.

The person acting as Chair throws the words out and then never proceeds to learn what the Will of the board really is. This happened on May 14.

There is only one way for the board to know what the "will of the board" is and that is to have a vote. To have a vote, a board member is going to have to make a Motion. And then somebody will have to second it. (Did you watch how long it took on May 14 to get a motion just to re-convene in public session at 6:30PM?)

And then the vote will decide what the "will of the board" is. Right now the person acting as Board Chair declares what the will of the board is. And that is wrong!

But the Board Chair might not allow such a motion or vote, because it's not on the Agenda.


At the end of the meeting Mrs. Agostini asked for two items to be added to the agenda for the May 28th meeting: 1. a cell phone tower report and 2. having the bond attorney attorney attend to answer questions about the addenda to the bond documents (that she refused to sign).

Fast-forward to (3:34:55) in the District's video on YouTube for the May 14, 2019 meeting {Yes! That's 3 hours 34 minutes (so far)) for the discussion of items for the May 28th Agenda. Notice during Supt. Davis' prefacing remarks that McKie is fanning herself. It wasn't hot in the board room. Why is she hot?

McKie was asleep at the switch and not prepared to proceed with the meeting after Supt. Davis finished with his boilerplate comments for the next meeting's agenda. Had McKie been attentive, she would have scrolled forward on her tablet as he spoke and proceeded without delay to ask for board suggestions.

Proceeding with a Motion without first getting the motion complete was an error. Did McKie have an idea what Mrs. Agostini wanted to propose? Mr. Shadd then made a motion to accept the agenda as proposed by the superintendent. While he was making the motion, which included removal of an item, Davis and Elkins-Johnson were engaged in a side conversation.

Side conversations in public meetings ARE NOT PERMITTED, because the public cannot hear what is said. It's not just disrespectful, it would be contrary, I suspect, to Board Policy, ethics and state law. Whatever is said by a public official at a public meeting must be audible to the public!

Caution-Parker seconded Shadd's Motion. Elkins-Johnson didn't hear it. How will she vote?

At (3:38:05) Mrs. Agostini was recognized. She asked for a cell phone tower update and she asked for the bond attorney to attend to discuss the recommended changes by the Superintendent to the litigation certificate that the board was not briefed on as it pertains to the Board Chair's ethics violations and fines. McKie blew right past Mrs. Agostini's requests and proceeded to the vote.

At (3:40:12), during Board & Superintendent Comments, Mrs. Agostini commented that the Board is talking the talk, but she asked if it is walking the walk. She referred to the Amelia McKie's having missed the deadline for filing the required Campaign Disclosure Report with the Ethics Commission, after McKie promised in January it wouldn't happen again.

The other board members passed on making comments. They knew how long they had been there and how long the audience had sat there. Then the superintendent and McKie, instead of quickly closing the meeting, droned on for another 12 minutes! Regarding graduations Supt. Davis could have just said, "It's late. See the schedule online." And McKie should have just adjourned the meeting.

Instead, McKie (3:48:16) spewed on for six minutes and said she "wouldn't dignify certain accusations". In other words, she wouldn't acknowledge the truth! Watch her suck up to the superintendent, as she says that Supt. Davis praised all his staff at the Teacher Appreciation Dinner "except himself".

Does this even make sense?

Then McKie praised herself extensively and thanked the 26,000 voters who sent her for her fifth term. (See separate article about this!)

McKie said the staff takes time on their own to come to board meetings and make presentations. Whom does she think she is kidding? When the Superintendent tells a department head that he's up at the next meeting, there is no "voluntary" involved.

While McKie was droning away, Elkins-Johnson and Davis had another side conversation.

Listen to the drivel that came out of McKie's mouth at the end of the meeting. It's a wonder someone didn't stand up and shout, "AMELIA, SHUT UP."

McKie must have learned a new word on her vocabulary list last week - the word, "Phenomenal." She used it at least 12 times in her closing comments.

The meeting adjourned at 3:54:26. Inexcusable!

Pledge of Allegiance

When is the last time you recited the Pledge of Allegiance?

Did you just mouth the words? Did you speak each word clearly and with feeling? Did you face the U.S. Flag? Did you place your hand over your heart?

This video is of  a 1969 episode of The Red Skelton Show.

"Red" lived from 1913 until 1997 - 84 years. Think of the changes he saw during his lifetime.

Whenever you say the Pledge, remember Red Skelton's words. Have your kids watch this with you.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Ever a defense?

Is there ever a defense for breaking the law?

Since December I've spent a lot of time thinking about the embarrassing situation at the Richland 2 School District.

The Board Chair owes over $51,000 in fines and penalties to the S.C. Ethics Commission.
Two people are illegally in office on the Board.

Now there is a controversy over Officers' signatures on the District's $468,000,000 bond documents.

Not small potatoes.

I was reminded this week of the ticket I got in Woodstock, Ill. in 2007. I was driving a 1999 VW New Beetle and had had recurring problems with headlights burning out often. One cold night, as I started my car and turned on the lights, I noticed the left headlight was out. I was 15 miles from home. What could I do? Just drive home and get it fixed in the morning. I almost made it!

In the block of my residence and just before I could turn into my driveway, a Woodstock cop pulled me over. He walked up and asked if I knew the headlight was out. When I explained and told him that I already had an appointment to have it replaced at 8:00AM the next day, he said he'd write me a Warning. No problem.

He returned to the warmth of his patrol car to write up the Warning, and a second patrol car showed up. I could see the cops talking. Then Cop #1 came back to my window and said, "I'm going to give you a ticket." When I asked what had just happened, all he would do is repeat his words.

I knew the ticket was a non-moving violation with a $75.00 fine, but I prepared to fight it. I planned to subpoena all the documents, the two officers, their supervisor, their department and personal cell phone records, transcripts and recordings of the police radio transmissions about the stop, the Records Dept. sergeant, the training officer, statistics for number of tickets vs. warnings for burned-out headlights, etc., etc. I planned on a real dog-and-pony show in Traffic Court.

I could pay the $75.00 before the day of court.
If I went to court and won, there would be no fine.
If I went to court and lost, I'd have to pay the $75.00 plus $200.00 in court fines and fees.

And then I thought about the likely last words and question by the judge . "Nice job, Mr. Philpott. Now tell me, was the headlight out?"

I paid the $75.00.

Two and one-half years later Cop #1, who was no longer with the department, called me. He thanked me for never having asked again what had happened when Cop #2 showed up. He told me that Cop #2 had reminded him of an order at the P.D. that, if I ever got stopped for anything, I was to get a ticket, not a warning.

It seems I had sent too many emails to the P.D. complaining about speeding cops and cops running Stop signs. I had also asked their help in stopping many dangerous drivers, who were later convicted in Traffic Court.

5/14/19 Board Meeting - 4 HOURS

Did the Richland 2 School Board set a record on Tuesday, May 14? The meeting ran 3 hours 54 minutes, and that's in addition to the 30-minute budget input time and the 60-minute executive session.

A clue to the length of the meeting shows up right at the beginning of the recorded video on YouTube. Mrs. McKie rambled on and on while introducing Keith Price, who was to give the Inspiration Moment. As an Assistant Principal he is obligated to attend board meetings. She should have just introduced him and let him proceed.

The Board fails to control the length of the Inspiration Moment. It should be brief. It should be a "moment"; to me, that's a minute or two. Mr. Price is a good reader. His six-minute, three-page "Inspirational Moment" would have better as a two-minute, one-page comment.

McKie started to say "coming off of the May 1st day of protest", but she corrected herself to refer to Teacher Appreciation Week.

At (23:30) be sure to watch the segment with Principal Bobby Cunningham of the W.R. Rogers Center. He is an excellent speaker and he covered the information about his school in an interesting and rapid manner.

McKie must be running for office somewhere. Her effusive thanks to Mr. Cunningham, while slipping in a few toots on her own horn, were far too long and too gushy. There was something different about McKie Tuesday evening - some rambling, stumbling with wording and lack of cohesive statements that hadn't been obvious at earlier meetings this year. And then she burst into applause for Mr. Cunningham, which was unique to Board meetings. Watch her expression, as she led the applause.

At (34:45), the beginning of the public participation segment, Mrs. Agostini asked to make some remarks. McKie postponed Mrs. Agostini and said she had a couple of comments. Then McKie read the Rules of the Road. Man! I expected her to say, "Did you get all that, Gus?"

If you listen carefully to her words, you'll know why you never hear from any staffer after you make comments during the public participation segment. The Board never discusses public comments or, as a Board (decision), directs the Superintendent to assign someone to respond.

In other words, if you are lucky enough to say something pleasing to McKie, you might get your three minutes. If not, she'll gavel you in submission, which Ms. Holmes had asked her to do earlier this year. If you attended any Board meetings last year, before McKie took the top perch on the roost, they were run in a friendly, professional, competent manner, and the public didn't get beaten up.

McKie could have just said, "If you ain't got somethin' nice to say, don't even think about standing up to say anything."

And then McKie totally blew off Mrs. Agostini and introduced the first speaker for the public comment period. TALK ABOUT A SNUB!

Mrs. Agostini addressed inconsistencies occurring regarding public participation and described changes in the form which the public must sign in order to speak. She referred to a March 12th change in the sign-up sheet's wording, after she received complaints about changes in speaker order. McKie had assumed control over the order of speakers.

Mrs. Agostini continued. On February 12 a speaker was denied speaking time, because she had not filled out the forms in time. Agostini mentioned that, under the previous Board Chair, any one was welcome to speak, whether he had signed up or not. McKie said she would strictly adhere to Board Policy and wanted to be "as ethical and policy-abiding" as possible. Then, on March 26, McKie did not act as ethically and policy-abiding as possible, and she allowed a speaker who had not complied with her rules to speak. And she cut off a speaker (me) when a second topic was mentioned.

Again watch McKie's expression of conceit and disrespect toward Mrs. Agostini. Her smirks and childish behavior are completely out-of-place for the position of a Board Chair.

Then McKie accused people of using her "graceness (graciousness?) and latitude for personal gain and for insult"/ Well, Lawdy Lawd!!! To whom could she be referring? What does she really mean?

If McKie is going to prohibit personal attack, of which there haven't been any, she should refrain from attacking a member of the public. Remarks about failures of public officials are not personal attacks!

Then listen carefully to McKie's snarky "thanks" to Mrs. Agostini for bringing up her remarks. And watch her expression.

At (41:14) the first speaker, James Mobley, was introduced and McKie welcomed him with "we'd love to hear from you." WHOA, NELLIE! What's that about?

I am curious whether the Board has lost confidence in Amelia McKie.

The board's effort to create a Board Policy that would have enabled them to remove an Officer (such as the Chair) failed earlier this year. Actually, it passed, and the Board should act to correct that. Why did it really pass?

The vote on that proposed Board Policy was 3-4. Three for, four against. It failed. However, Mrs. McKie and Ms. Holmes are illegally on the Board. Without their votes the Policy would have passed 3-2. Counting the same three as For but leaving only two Against. There have been other votes that were declared with the wrong outcome.

The Board will eventually be held accountable for these errors.

Budget Input Session 2

On May 14 the Richland 2 School Board held a second Budget Input session. It was scheduled for 30 minutes at 5:00PM, before the regular one-hour Executive Session.

The video-recording of the May 14, 2019 Board meeting has been posted to YouTube. The recording begins at 5:30PM with an announcement that the ½-hour session for the budget input had concluded. Where is the recording of what actually happened during that 30-minute public School Board meeting???

Did anyone show up?

If they did, their words to the Board are lost forever. That public meeting should have been recorded and included in the YouTube video. Perhaps it would have just shown 30 minutes of seven people staring at their fingernails or shuffling papers.

So, how many members of the public showed up and what did they say?

If no one showed up or only one or two, the question must be asked, What did the District do to notify parents of 27,000 students, voters, taxpayers and community members of that valuable time for putting their 2¢ in for the Board's consideration was available?

If there was little or no announcement to the public of the budget-input session, is it any wonder that no one showed up? Only one woman showed up at the last budget-input session.

Scheduling it at 5:00PM assures a low turn-out of the public. End-of-day commutes, after-school shuttling of children, dinner-time -- all interfere with getting to a 5:00PM public comment session.

Why didn't the Board schedule it for the beginning of the 6:30PM public session or place it on the agenda?

My guess is that a survey of the public, asking them what they think "budget input" is for, would have them shaking their heads.

Perhaps one of the Board members will enlighten the public at the May 28th Board meeting.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

This WILL stop!!!

When last night's school board adjourned, I made a bee-line for the speaker who had addressed the board about lack of transparency and then stepped over to thank Mrs. Agostini.

I was immediately swarmed by two deputies, and I exclaimed, "What's this?" One said, "She is trying to leave." I said she wasn't, and Mrs. Agostini told them she wasn't and that everything was okay.

This is insane. Since when can a member of the public not speak to a public official?

I recalled my conversation at the Richland County Sheriff's Department on March 20, after Teresa Holmes filed a harassment complaint against me. Sgt. Dauway said that board members could not be approached after meetings. He also said the meeting was over and there was nothing more to be said. And he said "they don't want anything to happen".

The only thing that is happening is that the sheriff's deputy is infringing on peaceable right to gather and free speech.

I didn't challenge Dauway when I met with him and the Deputy Chief of the Criminal Investigations Division of the Sheriff's Department. After I read Holmes' report, I pointed out all the false statements in it. (Frankly, they should have charged her with filing a false police report.) On April 26 I requested and received a copy of the supplemental report to Holmes' complaint, which stated, in part, "An investigation into this case revealed that a crime did not occur."

I don't know yet who gave instructions to the Sheriff's Department about what was expected of their deputies. But the Board does not need any protection from the public. To my knowledge, there has never been a threat against a board member.

The law-enforcement presence began after the January 22 board meeting. It's way past time for it to end. The board can order the Superintendent to cancel the agreement with the sheriff's department. The three deputies who have been attending every board meeting after January 22 can find over-time somewhere else in the District, not at Richland 2 School District expense!

Board - tired by 9:30PM

At last night's meeting (5/14/19) you could tell that the board was getting tired by 9:30PM. After all, they had been there since 5:00PM, with only a short transition at 6:30PM from the Executive Session back to re-convene the Regular Session.

And what about the audience, which had been enduring board considerations and debate for three hours by that time? Just imagine if you told a student to sit in his chair for 180 minutes and keep his mouth shut. There would be complaints of torture and "cruel and unusual punishment".

But there we sat, on good behavior and without protest. Good thing, too, since there were at least two deputy sheriff's in the room, ready to pounce if anyone yawned too loudly.

At 9:58PM Ms. Holmes made a comment about the "school-to-prison pipeline". Only a portion of her comment was audible in the room. Check the YouTube video.

Then Mr. Manning asked about the student who cusses out his teacher or slugs him (or her).

At 10:13PM Mrs. Agostini asked that the next meeting's Agenda including a cell phone tower update (for the public) and that the bond attorney attend to explain the addenda over which she had resigned as Board Secretary at the last meeting.

McKie moved right on to approval of the Agenda for May 28th without commenting on Mrs. Agostini's request. My guess? Neither item will be on the Agenda. Surprise me!

During the Board & Superintendent Comments segment just before the end of the meeting (just before 10:30PM) Mrs. Agostini referred to McKie's having failed to meet the April deadline for her (McKie's) Campaign  Disclosure Report. While Agostini was speaking, McKie was busy reading papers from a file folder and moving other papers, clearly ignoring Agostini. (That won't show up on the YouTube video, because the camera will be focused on Mrs. Agostini.)

McKie's closing comments could not be heard throughout the room, because she did not speak directly into her microphone and turned her head away from the microphone to look at other board members. She seemed to be perturbed by "attacks".

The truth hurts. Sometimes.

May 1st "vacation"

The board heard a presentation by a staff member on the May 1 fiasco. You know, the day the teachers went on strike and gathered at the State House to clamor for higher wages.

Of course, it wasn't called a "strike" or a "sick-out", but that's exactly what it was.

I had filed a FOIA request for the number of Personal Leave days that had been requested by Richland 2 teachers and employees. The District complied with my request by emailing me a copy of the staff presentation that was to be made last evening at the board meeting.

There are State rules that count the number of days of school closings "due to snow, extreme weather conditions, or other disruptions (S.C. Code of Laws §59-1-425 (HB 3890))."

I'll bet a legal opinion would be that a sick-out didn't qualify within that wording, but the question didn't arise last night.

You can hear the discussion on the YouTube recording.

The District found a fancy term for the sick-out and referred to it as "'All Out' for Education Advocacy."

Basically, it was a cop-out by the board. The board forgot that it is "Management" and the teachers are "Labor". What actually exists in Richland 2 is that the board ("Management") is also "Labor". When you go back to the April 23, 2019 meeting and listen to the comments of board members, you'll hear them supporting the teachers and their strike, rather than taking the position that the schools must operate and educate the students.

Now, how many teachers planned to bail on May 1st? As of April 30, 555 "reported absences" had been requested. According to the staff report "More expected to come in the night before and the morning of". I asked in my FOIA Request how many denials were issued; the District didn't respond with any number. I won't make a big deal out of it; I suspect the answer is Zero.

The staff report indicated "353 unfilled sub jobs".

This was a clear failure of the Administration, which should have anticipated the strike, in view of announcements by SCforED. The Administration (that's the Superintendent, with board backing (which never happened)) should have immediately announced that schools would remain open and that teachers, with the exception of up to, say, five(?) Personal Leave approvals, would be expected to show up on May 1, ready, willing and happy to fulfill their contractual obligation to teach.

The board quickly, and with a great sigh of relief, accepted the staff recommendation to approve "Option 1 - Waive the missed day from May 1 for students and employees."

Not one board member asked what the financial impact of that decision was.

Student Matters - 5/14/19

Once again the electronic voting system failed. That's the system with which board members cast their votes on student matters, such as transfers, and on Motions.

e-Voting should save time, not waste it. When the "question" (the student matter) is to be decided, all a board member has to do is touch a button on his or her official District-owned tablet. The buttons could be labeled as simply "Yes" and "No". How long should it take for the tally to be recorded and displayed on the screens in the room? One second? Two? Three?

But sixty seconds? Or never?

There were hand votes on some questions/issues (did the recording secretary record who voted each way?) and the voting result was announced. For the official record, just reflecting a 4-3 result will not be good enough.

Previously, I've written that all the votes by the Board since November 13, 2018 must be reviewed. The votes by McKie and Holmes must be disregarded. Why? Because they are not legally members of the School Board.

Later in the meeting the board voted on Board Policy revisions. When the board voted on revisions for two Board Policies, the result on one was 3-4 (Failed). However, when you remove the votes of McKie and Holmes, the vote becomes 3-2 (Pass).

And on the other policy, the vote was 4-3 (Pass), but that included Yes votes by McKie and Holmes. When those votes are disregarded, the correct vote was 3-2 (Pass).

While the board was discussing Policy GBEA, Conflict of Interest/Staff Ethics, I made a note "This is a damned three-ring circus." (Pardon my "French".) Round and round she goes; where she stops, nobody knows.Was it a merry-go-round or a Roulette wheel? Or maybe a shell game? Dr. Elkins-Johnson and Ms. Holmes had excellent points and questions why the proposed policy was to keep good potential employees (such as a daughter of a current employee) from being employed in the District.

The board ended up voting on a verbal amendment to the revision. That was so wrong! The amendment should have been stated and then written down by the recording secretary. Then the written amendment should have been voted on. Otherwise, could they have voted on an incorrect wording of a complicated amendment?

Public Participation - 5/14/19

At approximately 7:15PM the meeting reached the first Public Participation segment. Two speakers were signed up.

I had prepared three different themes for last night's meeting. I had all three typed up and ready to go. Before I arrived, though, I decided that I would sit out this meeting. In other words, I would not speak. It turned out to be the right choice.

At (34:44 (on the YouTube video)) Trustee Agostini indicated she wished to speak, but McKie cut off her. Then McKie launched into a long diatribe about the Board Policy (and how the public was to behave in her presence). It was difficult to hear her entire statement, because she doesn't speak into the microphone so that her voice would be amplified in the meeting room. Wait for the YouTube recording; you can hear her statement.

Be sure to sit up straight, when you hear her admonitions. Don't dare reach for the chips or popcorn. And don't even think about speaking to anyone or answering the phone, while she lectures the audience. I did hear the words "personal gain and insult". I can't wait to hear the whole speech. I remembered thinking, "Well, what can a person speak about???"

Only then was Mrs.Agostini given permission to add her comments about the public participation segment.

The first speaker began his allotted three minutes and used it well. Although I was sitting two chairs away from him, it was difficult to hear everything he said, because the microphone on the podium only amplifies within the room if a speaker stands with his mouth close to the microphone and speaks directly into it. You can hear his remarks on the YouTube video. I did hear the part where he lambasted the board for a lack of transparency.

The second speaker apparently decided not to speak. Perhaps that person was cowering in his or her seat after hearing McKie's remarks.

After the first speaker sat down, I looked over at him frequently during the rest of the meeting. If he had left early, I intended to slip out to introduce myself and thank him for his remarks.

As it happened, he stuck it out to the end of the meeting, about 10:30PM. As soon as the meeting adjourned, I stepped over to thank him in person.

A new record?

Did the Richland 2 school board establish a new record last night?

The public meeting was scheduled to start at 5:00PM, and I had initially considered attending. Then I figured that the most of the Board couldn't care less what I had to say, so I skipped it.

A one-hour Executive Session was scheduled for 5:30PM. It must have been held, because there wasn't a board member in sight at 6:25PM. Exactly at 6:30PM Mrs. Libby Roof politely announced to the audience that the Executive Session was running a little behind. At 6:32PM the board began arriving in the public meeting room, and at 6:35PM the meeting began. Although you might not know it, since Amelia McKie was speaking so softly into her microphone.

[The meeting ran to just before 10:30PM!!!]

The meeting kicked off with an Inspiration Moment. Somebody should define "Moment" for Amelia McKie, the pretend Chair of the Board, and tell her how long a Moment is and should be at the beginning of a meeting. How about one minute? Max of two minutes? Not five-six minutes, especially when the speaker cannot be heard.

Who fails to tell a speaker to speak INTO the microphone and to get his mouth close enough that his voice will be amplified in the room? Maybe the same people who fail to tell many of the board members the same thing.

(23:26) The School Focus was on the W.R. Rogers Center. I couldn't hear the name of the speaker (thanks, Amelia; SPEAK UP!), but I think he was Bobby Cunningham. He was the best presenter of the evening! He spoke loudly, clearly, firmly and without notes. It was crystal clear that he believed in his students and his Center. Students are lucky to be under his direction. Be sure to watch his presentation, when this week's meeting is posted to YouTube!

You can find it by dragging the counter forward. This article will be edited after the meeting video-recording is put up  on YouTube, and the time-counter reading will be added. For the time-being, you can find it following the Pledge of Allegiance. Watch for Principal Cunningham at the podium.

Frankly, it's embarrassing to look at the W.R. Rogers Center's webpage on the Richland 2 website. It appears the District considers the Center its stepchild. This Center deserves a much greater presence on the District's website!

Then it was time for Public Participation. Reporting on this meeting continues in a separate article.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Nobody told me nuthin'

When a person decides to run for office, there are certain things they must do. And certain things they must know.

A valuable source of information is the South Carolina Elections Commission.

Behind the "Candidates" tab on the homepage is a page titled "Campaign Finance & Ethics".

On that page, clear as a bright sun, it reads

"Candidates are required by law to file various campaign finance reports by specific deadlines.
"All candidates must file a Statement of Economic Interest (SEI) form with the State Ethics Commission.  This must be done electronically on the State Ethics Commission website.  Candidates may also be required to make Campaign Disclosure reports.  Visit the State Ethics Commission website for more information."
So this is my question. If a person with an eighth-grade education or higher read that, wouldn't he or she think that maybe, just maybe, it might be a good idea to find out what those reports were and when those deadlines were?

How could a person possibly later say, "Nobody told me I needed to do something." It was the candidate's personal responsibility to find out. You can't put the blame off on someone else.

If a candidate can't or won't take that personal responsibility, can that candidate be trusted to fulfill important fiduciary duties as a member of a board of trustees, responsible for multi-millions of dollars of assets, thousands of students and hundreds of employees?

Reality Check - McKie misses deadline

Do you read The Independent Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County? Do you follow the goings-on of Richland 2 on The Voice?

On May 9, The Voice reporter Michael Smith filed his story about the latest deadline that Amelia McKie missed. Hit the link above, then click on News, then at the bottom of the webpage click on Next. You're looking for the story titled McKie fails to file ethics form... again. Or just click here.

Earlier this year Amelia McKie assured fellow School Board members and the public that "It’s a problem that certainly will not happen again.” By the "It" she meant failing to file required reports at the South Carolina Ethics Commission.

Now, if she makes a promise (gives her word) that it won't happen again and less than three months later it does happen again, how much faith can be placed in anything else she says?

She got in hot water this time over her Campaign Disclosure Report for January 1-March 31, 2019 that was due by April 10, 2019. When did she file it? May 8, 2019! A month late.

Wouldn't you think that one of her buddies on the board would have been saying, "Amelia, you know you need to file the Campaign Disclosure Report, right?" and "Amelia, when you are going to file that report?" and "Amelia, did you file the report?"  Or did all of her buddies clam up and just sit on their hands, waiting for Amelia to self-destruct?

McKie owes $51,850 to the South Carolina Ethics Commission. That amount is no longer negotiable. The appeals period has closed. That's what she owes. The S.C. Department of Revenue (SCDOR) may be likely to commence collection actiony soon, and it probably won't be so polite as the Ethics Commission has been. The SCDOR is likely to send a letter or two and then file a collection action in court. And then pursue a judgment.

Has Amelia got $51,850 to settle up? It's my understanding that campaign funds cannot be used to pay fines and penalties.

How many people would grab the arms of their chair, fasten their seatbelts, and hang on? What should she do?

"Resign from the Board?" Actually, that's not an option for McKie, because she is not even legally a member of the Board. (Nor is Teresa Holmes.)

How can you resign from something of which you are not even a legal member?

And why don't the five legal members of the School Board insist that McKie and Holmes not take seats at the front of the room during Board meetings? Why doesn't the Superintendent explain to her that she is not a legal member of the Board and cannot participate as such? She should not be attending Executive Sessions, calling meetings to order, recognizing others to speak, voting, or taking any other action as a Board member, because she is not a School Board member.

Are her problems about to get a lot worse?

And the other School Board members should be very careful not to be complicit in anything that smells of being illegal. Mrs. Agostini was wise enough to consult her private attorney. If the other Board members consult with their own private attorneys, they will learn about their own precarious positions.

Here is the question each Board member should ask his or her own attorney? "If I fail to challenge the presence of someone who has asserted an illegal claim to the office of Trustee on the Richland 2 School Board, do I have personal or civil (or even, possibly, criminal) liability?"

Teresa Holmes doesn't need to ask her attorney that question. She too is not a legal member of the Board. for the same reason McKie isn't.

Friday, May 10, 2019

The "real deal" - only it's not

This morning I came across this page on the Richland 2 website. It's titled The Real Deal.

One of the questions is

"Q: A newspaper article stated that Dr. Davis was listed on the SC Ethics Commission website as owing a fine. Is that correct? 
A: Dr. Davis was never assessed a fine by the ethics commission and was never listed on the website as owing a fine. At the February 12, 2019 School Board meeting, Dr. Davis stated that he was unaware of the requirement of "filing a Statement of Economic Interest (SEI) form within 10 days of officially becoming the superintendent in Richland Two. Instead, Dr. Davis followed the practice of his predecessors and of superintendents across the state by filing the SEI after receiving the annual notification from the Ethics Commission in December.”
"When he learned of the requirement, he self-reported this omission to the ethics commission, updated the files submitted for the 2017 calendar year that he submitted in 2018, and voluntarily paid the $100 fine."
If that answer were put through the True or False wringer, the Answer would be "Mixed".

How so?

True. Dr. Davis was never assessed a fine by the S.C. Ethics Commission.
True. Dr. Davis was never listed as owing a fine to the Ethics Commission.
True. Dr. Davis acknowledged not having filed a SEI.

FALSE. What is the so-called ten days after period?

The South Carolina Ethics Commission, according to S.C. law, requires the SEI to be filed before the appointee takes the oath of office and engages upon official duties.

Dr. Davis did mention a period of ten days following becoming the Superintendent, but that is NOT how the law reads. S.C. Code of Laws §8-13-1110(A) is crystal clear. Read it yourself. Where does it say you have ten days after...?

Wasn't the notification that Supt. Davis received in December 2018 a Notice that he had not filed a required SEI, rather than an "annual notification" that one was required? And wasn't that because The Voice newspaper had blown the whistle on District 2 officials?

The District shouldn't be writing a partial truth and calling it the "Real Deal", or Truth.

If his predecessors were wrong or other superintendents across the state of South Carolina were wrong, does that excuse the Richland 2 Superintendent? That's like saying "Well, I speed because everybody speeds."

And that's also too much like saying, "The dog ate my homework."

May 14th Agenda - Cell Tower

Attention - Parents!

The Agenda for the May 14, 2019 Board meeting contains an item for discussion during the 5:30PM Executive Session: "Contractual Matter regarding Cellphone Tower"

If you have something to say to the Board, you are have some choices:
1. Email your School Board members before the meeting;
2. Telephone your School Board members before the meeting;
3. Speak at the May 14th meeting by arriving before 6:30PM and registering to speak. You must fill out both forms!

The Board will meet to discuss the Contract before you get to speak about it.

The Board should not be taking any action on the contractual matter discussed on May 14. There is no vote scheduled.

But this may not mean anything, because there may be no action by the Board necessary for work to proceed on the tower. It may already be a done deal. The meeting held last month was an Informational Meeting. Information was provided TO you. Whatever you said at the meeting (or since) may have absolutely no consequence.

The Board should make clear exactly what the status of construction is.

Is it too late for anything you say to have any effect on construction of a cellphone tower at Kelly Mill Middle School or on the grounds of any other school in the Richland 2 School District?

May 14th Agenda - Budget Input Session

The May 14th meeting of the Richland School Board will start at 5:00PM. The only item of business is "Public Input Session: Budget".

This means, if you have anything to say to the Board about the budget for the coming school year, now is the time to step up and say it.

At the last Budget Input session, only one parent spoke.

I think parents did not know about that "opportunity" to speak. OK, so what if you have to leave work early to be there at 5:00PM. Or tell your family that they "are on their own" for dinner.

Why is the Board scheduling the Input session for 5:00PM?

Is it so the Board can say, "Well, we offered the public a chance to speak and no one showed up." Or "People ought to find the Agenda, read it and understand what we mean."

Why not have the Budget Input session at the beginning of the public session at 6:30PM?

Did the Board decide on the time? Or did Amelia McKie and the superintendent pick it?

After the 30-minute Budget Input session, the Board will hold an Executive Session from 5:30-6:30PM. The Regular Meeting of the Board will start at 6:30PM. That's this Tuesday, May 14th.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

When is the next meeting?

From the Richland 2 School District website at 6:12PM on May 9, 2019.


Upcoming Meeting:

   Tuesday, April 30, 2019
   Regularly Schedule Meeting

I wonder why the date wasn't changed on May 1st. The next meeting will be Tuesday, May 14.

Do you think it's a "Regularly Schedule Meeting"?

Any grammarians here?

The Voice on board's bond documents

You'll want to read slowly the entire article on this week's The Independent Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County. Don't miss it. To go straight to it, click here.

Reporter Michael Smith dug further into the question and got quotes from two trustees on the Richland 2 school board. I can imagine he had some good questions for the superintendent, but Smith wrote "District Superintendent Dr. Baron Davis couldn’t be reached for comment."

Will the Board ever find out how, exactly, the fancy wording got added to the bond documents?

It's the Administration that brought the documents to the Board. It's the Administration that needs to be under the microscope. And the grilling should be in public, not hidden away in Executive Session and not swept under the rug.

Thank goodness that Mrs. Agostini had the insight and the integrity to examine carefully what she was being asked to sign.

There is much more to be written and said about this. And it will be.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

"these ones"

Don’t read the comments – except these ones! Introducing The State’s new comment section

Do you have a student in Richland 2 schools? Ask your student about this headline on the website today of

I have never, until today, seen "these ones" in print. For me, "never" is many, many years.

Ask your student. Is this proper English? If so, why? If not, why?

Have a teachable moment today around the dinner table.

NOTE: By 7:45PM The State had corrected the title.

Next school board meeting 5/14/19

The next Richland 2 School Board Regular Meeting will be Tuesday, May 14, 2019.

The Richland 2 webpage for the Upcoming Meeting still shows the April 30th meeting. That should have been changed on May 1st.

Unless something changes, the meeting will start at 6:30PM, after the one-hour Executive Session that often precedes a Regular Meeting.

The agenda for a meeting is often published on the Thursday preceding a meeting, and it must be published not later than the Friday before a meeting. This is to give the public adequate Notice of a meeting and the expected contents of the meeting.

Lately the Board has been inundated with many requests for Board Policy revisions. There have been so many that I wonder how Board Members can properly consider and evaluate the requests. And it's one of the reasons that the meetings have turned into marathons.

There are other reasons; ex., lengthy Inspirational Moments; lengthy segments of recognition; lengthy posturing during discussion; lengthy, unexplained and inexcusable delays during electronic voting. Electronics are supposed to speed things up!

These are all things in control of the people running the meeting; i.e., the superintendent and the chair.

4/23/19 Meeting Video-recording?

When will the video-recording of the Special Meeting of the Richland 2 School Board (April 23, 2019, 5:30PM) be posted on YouTube and on the District's website?

At this meeting there was a lengthy presentation about the budget and then a discussion of revisions to many Board Policies.

One week later, at the April 30th Board's Regular Meeting, when Trustee Lindsay Agostini resigned as Board Secretary, she mentioned a workshop and board documents that she was unwilling to sign as Secretary.

The workshop and the Special Meeting should have been recorded. But was it?

That was the night when the Board was seated in a special configuration of tables in the middle of the room. The audience was relegated to chairs against a wall, at some distance from the board members and speakers, making it very difficult to hear.

I remember anticipating that the Special Meeting would turn into a marathon, and I left shortly after 6:30PM. I should have stuck around.

In thinking more about Mrs. Agostini's April 30th resignation statement, I wondered whether there was discussion on April 23 about the bond documents that needed signatures.

Were the contents of the documents discussed?

Were the documents sent to all Board members before the April 23 meeting, so that they would have time to read and understand them and prepare their questions and comments?

Was there a Resolution introduced and voted on that would authorize the Chair and the Secretary of the Board to sign those documents on behalf of the District?

Are there Minutes of the April 23, 2019 Special Meeting?