Thursday, July 18, 2019

School Board still minus two legal Members and now minus one legal Officer

Reporter Michael Smith of The Independent Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County contacted me for a comment after the Richland 2 School Board elected its officers for 2019-2020.

In his July 3, 2019 article on  he correctly reported my position, when he wrote "Philpott maintains that McKie and Holmes aren’t legally allowed to serve because neither filed Statements of Economic interest forms until after taking the oath of office. State law prohibits elected officials from taking the oath when SEI forms haven’t been filed."

Further Smith quoted me correctly, when he wrote, “They are, in my opinion, not legal board members,” Philpott said. “Teresa Holmes was nominated for the position of vice chair and was elected. My contention is since she is not a board member, she cannot serve as an officer.”

Smith also contacted Trustee-elect Teresa Holmes, and Smith wrote, "Holmes said she doesn’t plan to step down, and disputes that she’s not legally qualified to serve on the board.": 

Smith quoted Holmes: “There is no reason that he should continue to say that,” Holmes said. “He knows that that’s not true."

So, basically, Holmes is calling me a liar.

Teresa Holmes has a Ph.D. She should be able to understand the law and that the order of the words in the law in important.

Why do I continue to say she is not a legal member of the Board? It's as simple as 1-2-3. While she is legally “qualified”, she is not legally “entitled” to serve on the Board.

1.     At the time Holmes took the oath of office on November 13, 2018, she was "qualified" to be a member of the Board, because she had been elected.
2.     However, when she took the oath of office on November 13, 2018, she was not eligible to take it, because she had not filed the required Statement of Economic Interests Report with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. Therefore, it is as if she never took the oath of office. The oath that she did take has no force or effect.
3.     She filed the required Statement on December 4, 2018, but she has never taken the oath of office legally; i.e., after she filed the Statement.

Because Holmes hasn't taken the oath of office, she is NOT a legal Board member. And, because she is not a legal Board member, she cannot serve as Board Vice Chair. She is only a Trustee-elect, not a Trustee. She is NOT entitled to sit at the Board or to vote or to attend Executive Sessions or to serve as Board Vice Chair. She is not entitled to receive Trustee compensation or have any expenses paid or reimbursed for meetings, conferences, out-of-town Association meetings, etc. Nor should Amelia McKie, for the same reasons. All monies paid to or for McKie and Holmes should be returned to Richland 2 School District.

Richland 2 School District has never provided me with any response or statement regarding my allegations. It has informed me that "The District’s legal counsel continues to advise us that actions taken by the Board are valid under these circumstances." That statement is NOT a response to my allegations. And it’s only true if a quorum of legal Board members was in attendance.

As early as mid-March I suggested to the Board that there was a simple "fix" to this problem. Holmes and McKie need to raise their right hands and take the oath of office. Then, and only then, will they become legal board members.

As soon as they do, then the Board will have to re-examine every vote on or since November 13, 2018 that was affected by votes by McKie and Holmes. Many decisions will change.

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