Friday, August 30, 2019

Colo. Student Disciplined over gun photo

Check out this story about a high school student in Colorado who was excited about going shooting with his mother.

He posted about in on Snapchat, and some snowflake complained through the school hotline, resulting in a visit by police and school discipline while the school "investigated".

None of us wants violence or "gun violence", but this type of nonsense is insane. All because of an anonymous report.

https://www.dailywire.com/news/51212/high-school-bans-student-after-he-goes-shooting-james-barrett?utm_medium=email&utm_content=083019-news&utm_campaign=position1

Gun Education in Schools

Can the word "gun" be mentioned in the Richland 2 School District?

If you would like an idea of the insanity spreading through the United States, read this article, Campus Scary, that was published in the May 2019 issue of America's 1st Freedom, one of the publications of the NRA. Now, before you pre-judge the content, read the article.

Read the examples of threats and discipline on campuses in the U.S. Does this scare you? It should.

I recall in about February 2018, after the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland, Fla.), I addressed the Richland 2 School Board and requested a survey of parents, teachers, staff and community members on the topic of arming teachers.

Note the phrasing of my request. It was for a survey.

At that same meeting two parents rose to their feet and also addressed the school board (and were allowed to do so without having signed up before 6:30PM to speak). They said they did not want guns in the schools.

Hello? Did I say I wanted guns in the schools? No, I requested a survey.

Did it happen? Absolutely not.

But there are guns in Richland 2 Schools now, and I don't mean just the guns carried by the SROs. At the August 13th School Board meeting, there was a man wearing a cap and a shirt with a Richland 2 Emergency Services logo. When I looked closely, there was a telltale bulge on his belt under his shirt and later, when he was walking away from me, the shirt rode up in the back and revealed the butt of his semi-automatic pistol in an inside-the-belt holster.

All I learned about him was that he was an Assistant Manager. I presumed of the Emergency Services Department of the District. So, why is he armed but not in a uniform that identifies him clearly as Richland 2 Security?

What are your thoughts about guns, gun safety, safe-firearms-handing classes, and education about firearms? Should there be classes in Firearms Safety in our schools? Can gun-related topics be discussed in Richland 2 schools?

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Meadow Pollack - remember this name?


Meadow Pollack was one of the students killed at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.

Her father, Andrew Pollack, is serious about change. Not just talking about it or writing about it. He is doing something to effect change.

His book, Why Meadow Died - The People and Policies That Created the Parkland Shooter and Endanger America's Students, will be published on September 10, 2019.

You can pre-order it today and it will be delivered directly to your Kindle, computer or smartphone on September 10.

YOU can get active in Richland 2. Don't sit back and wait for "somebody" else to fix the problems.

Facebook IS good ...

... for something.

I spotted this on Facebook this morning.

"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."

Attributed to Booker T. Washington (1856-1915)

Monday, August 26, 2019

State law ignored?

South Carolina books are full of laws. It's hard to know all of them.

Remember back on November 13, 2018, when the newly-elected trustees for the Richland 2 School Board were sworn in? The ceremony was held before the Regular board meeting resumed at 6:30PM.

On November 6, 2018 one trustee was elected and three were re-elected. Casting aside for a moment my complaints over the past six month that the one who was elected and one who was re-elected were not eligible to take the oath of office, when should the elected trustees have taken office?

South Carolina Code of Laws Section 59-19-315 reads:

"Commencement of trustee's term of office.

"The term of office of every elected trustee of a school district must commence one week following the certification of his election."

Keyword: must

According to the Richland County Board of Elections office this morning, the November 6, 2018 election was certified on November 9, 2018.

One week after the election was November 13, 2018. A board meeting was held.
One week after the certification of the election was November 16, 2018.

The earliest that Teresa Holmes could have been seated, assuming for the moment that she had taken the oath of office legally (which she didn't), was November 16, 2018. When she sat at the board on November 13, she was still a trustee-elect. She was not entitled to sit at the board, attend an Executive Session, hear confidential District matters and student affairs, or vote on Board business. But she did.

As to Trustees Manning, Caution-Parker and McKie (the last also ineligible under State law to take the oath of office on November 13), had their 2014-2018 terms of office expired?

It seems to me that there is a State law about when a term of office for an elected person ends.

If it ends on election day or the day before election day, then there was no quorum at the November 13, 2018, and all business conducted that night must be struck from the records.

Manning, Caution-Parker and McKie could not begin their 2018-2022 terms until November 16, 2018. When did their 2014-2018 terms legally end?

Sunday, August 25, 2019

How good are your eyes? See the differences?

Is punctuation in official documents important?

The oath of office is taken by a school board member in the State of South Carolina. The oath is specific and it should be administered, and taken, verbatim. Shouldn't it?

Can you find the differences in these versions?

This is the oath as stated in the S.C. Constitution:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I am duly qualified, according to the Constitution of this State, to exercise the duties of the office to which I have been elected, (or appointed), and that I will, to the best of my ability, discharge the duties thereof, and preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of this State and of the United States. So help me God.”

This version is posted on the website for the South Carolina School Boards Association. See Page 3.

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I am duly qualified, according to the Constitution of this State, to exercise the duties of the office to which I have been elected (or appointed) and that I will, to the best of my ability, discharge the duties thereof and preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of this State and of the United States, so help me God." – (S.C. Constitution, Art. III, Sect. 26)

This version is the oath as administered by the Richland 2 School District:

"First, I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I am duly qualified, according, to the Constitution of this State, to exercise the duties of the office to which I have been elected (or appointed), and that I will, to the best of my ability, discharge the duties thereof, and preserve and protect and defend the Constitution of this State and of the United States. So help me God."


The cleanest, most-correct version grammatically is that of the SCSBA. A close second is the actual oath in the State Constitution.

A distant third is the version used by Richland 2. A typist, perhaps somewhere in the bowels of some law firm and on her last day on the job and who must have gotten a C- in English, typed the version used by the District. 

The errors cause me to think of the two versions of the Second Amendment of the U. S. Constitution. 

The version passed by Congress read, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." 

The version ratified by the States and authenticated by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, read, "A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed." 

Source: Wikipedia

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Oath of Office - Important?

What is the oath of office that a school board trustee takes? Is it important to take the oath of office? To take it legally?

From the South Carolina Code of Laws:

Title 8 - Public Officers and Employees

CHAPTER 3

Commissions, Oaths, and Bonds

SECTION 8-3-10. Oath and commission prerequisite to assumption of duties.

It shall be unlawful for any person to assume the duties of any public office until he has taken the oath provided by the Constitution and been regularly commissioned by the Governor.

Section 8-3-10 makes it very clear. The words "It shall be unlawful..." are not hazy.

So what happened in November 2018?

On November 6, 2018 Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes were elected to the Richland 2 school board.

On November 13, 2018, they took the oath of office in violation of Section 8-13-1110. This law prohibits taking the oath of office without first filing Statements of Economic Interests (with the South Carolina Ethics Commission). They had not filed the required Statements. Taking the oath of office illegally is like not taking it at all.

On December 4, 2018, they filed the required Statements.

NEITHER has taken the oath of office since becoming eligible to do so on December 4, 2018.

Thus, both violated Section 8-3-10. Neither has taken the oath of office legally.

Now the following law becomes important.

SECTION 8-3-220. Bonds of public officers may be sued on.

The bond of any public officer in this State may at all times be sued on by the public, any corporation or private person aggrieved by any misconduct of any such public officer.

I am personally aggrieved by the failure of Richland 2 School District to administer the oath of office legally to McKie and Holmes and by their not taking it legally.

McKie and Holmes are undoubtedly covered under the bond for board members. But could this present a problem? Because they have never become legal board members, they aren't eligible to be covered under the bond. Does the insurance company know that they are not legal board members?

It just gets deeper and deeper!

Who is responsible for this error? The Board is responsible.

The Superintendent? While he just works there, he also is responsible because he is the chief administrator of the District. He is supposed to know all the rules and provide guidance to the Board. But he cannot "tell" the Board what to do. What he can tell them is the consequences of failing to do their duties. But it's the Board that has the ultimate authority and responsibility.

Where is the attorney for the school district in all this? The legal issue is not hard to understand. McKie and Holmes have never taken the oath of office legally, yet they have been allowed to act as board members.

So, why doesn't the Board (there are five legal members of the Board) tell McKie and Holmes to raise their right hands and repeat the following words:

"First, I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I am duly qualified, according, [sic] to the Constitution of this State, to exercise the duties of the office to which I have been elected (or appointed), and that I will, to the best of my ability, discharge the duties thereof, and preserve and protect and defend the Constitution of this State and of the United States. So help me God."

Friday, August 23, 2019

Board Minutes Missing from Agenda

The Agenda for the August 27, 2019 school board meeting has been published, and it usually contains the Minutes of the last meeting.

The Minutes reveal the actions and decisions of the Board and who voted for or against Motions. The Minutes are the way for the Public to know what is going on.

The Minutes have been attached to the Agenda so that, with a click, one can read them. Except not this week.

The last meeting (August 13) was the one in which there was a Motion to approve the Superintendent's evaluation and his 12.3% raise. On that night two trustees voted against the Motion to Approve. The vote was 5-2.

The reasons given by both were the Super-Majority requirement to send the superintendent packing, if that's what the board decided to do. This would mean that five of the seven-member board would have to agree. There was no mention of what is probably a very healthy early-termination penalty that the District would have to cough it, if it wanted to replace the superintendent.

Somebody on the Board negotiated that with the superintendent, and so that language showed up in his contract. He certainly would have wanted it, but why would the board roll over. The board apparently wasn't allowed to nitpick the proposed contract renewal.

A third person, trustee-elect Holmes, didn't like the Super-Majority provision, but she didn't back it up with a No vote.

One trustee had a second reason for voting No. That second reason was the size of the superintendent's raise - 12.3%. She was right! And that was in addition to the STEP increase.

The Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County newspaper reported on August 22 the following:

"On July 1, Davis’ salary rose from $191,904 to $197,661 after he accepted a STEP increase coupled with a 1 percent raise the district gave administrators.
"Six weeks later, the Richland Two Board of trustees tacked on another 12.3 percent, elevating the superintendent’s base pay to $221,973, fifth highest in the state, according to public records."
The increase from $191,094 to $197,661 is 3%. The superintendent also receives $18,000/year as a automobile allowance.

So, where are the Minutes for the August 13th meeting. I guess the public won't get a chance to read them before the August 27th meeting.

Do Lawyers for District Understand?

At the July 26 school board meeting I requested a meeting with the Board Chair and the attorney for the District. Mr. Manning said he'd meet with me informally. On August 3 I emailed him to request the meeting.

There could be a lot of reasons why he hasn't responded (yet).

On August 19 I emailed Kathryn Mahoney, attorney for Richland 2, and Frannie Heizer, Burr & Forman's bond counsel for Richland 2, to explain exactly why I have been complaining to the Board.

I explained to them that my complaint is not about the late filing of the Statements of Economic Interests by Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes.

My complaint is that each took the oath of office illegally and that, until they do take it legally, they are not legal members of the Board.

The District has never contacted me to explain why my assertions are wrong. From that lack of contact, I can only assume that I am not wrong.

I also pointed out false, misleading and incomplete statements in the Richland 2 bond documents for a $26,000,000 sale of Bond Anticipation Notes.

Burr & Forman attempts to protect itself in the bond document by including this paragraph in the Legal Matters section, beginning on Page 51 of the sale document.

"Burr Forman McNair has assisted the School District by compiling certain information supplied to them by the School District and others and included in this Official Statement, but said firm has not made an independent investigation or verification of the accuracy, completeness or fairness of such information. The opinion of Burr Forman McNair will be limited solely to the legality and enforceability of the Notes, and no opinion will be given with respect to this Official Statement."

Did Richland 2 or its attorney ever tell Frannie Heizer of the ongoing questions about Amelia McKie's participation as a Board member and Board Chair? All of them should know about it, because Lindsay Agostini resigned from the Board Secretary position on April 26, rather than sign two documents associated with this sale. She would not risk personal or civil liability by signing a Certificate of Incumbency (related to McKie) and a Signature and No-Litigation Certification.

Neither Attorney Mahoney nor Attorney Heizer has acknowledged or replied to my August 19 emails. I didn't expect them to, but I certainly hope they will be questioning Board members, the Superintendent and the CFO as to what, exactly, is going on and why the Board hasn't fixed the issue by swearing in McKie and Holmes. McKie and Holmes first became eligible to take the oath of office on December 4, 2018.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Can a Board Allow Unofficial "Members"?

The School Board of District Two often refers to the district as a Premier district. And that it wants to be the Premier board of a premier district. To be that, it should be squeaky clean. Anything that is not totally clean should be cleared up, and quickly.

A school board is composed of  members elected by the public. The School Board of Richland School District Two is to have seven members.

A school board has awesome power, authority and responsibility. It can run your lives or it can ruin your lives, if you are students, teachers, administrators, staff or other District employees or taxpayers.

To run for election to the board, a person has to be qualified. The Election Commission sets the qualifications.

Once a person is elected, that person becomes a Trustee-elect.

To move from Trustee-elect to Trustee, that person must take an oath of office before assuming official duties. In South Carolina, the elected person must file a Statement of Economic Interests Report (SEI) with the South Carolina Ethics Commission before taking the oath of office.

If you take the oath of office before you file your SEI, the oath of office has been taken illegally. It doesn't count. It has no force or effect. Saying it does, does not make it so. No matter how many times you say it.

Once the SEI is filed, the elected person becomes eligible to take the oath of office.

Once the oath of office has been taken (after filing the SEI), only then the elected person can assume official duties.

Just about anyone can run for School Board. He or she must live in the School District and meet other general qualifications.

You don't have to be smart. You don't have to educated. You don't have to have a business background or financial knowledge. You don't have to understand accounting or spreadsheets or budgets. You don't have to have a manager's or executive's skills. You don't have to come from an educational background.

All you have to do is get one more vote than the candidate lower down in the results on Election Day.

Why is legal composition important? The Board makes decisions involving millions of dollars and affecting thousands of students and employees. Board officers sign legal documents that create huge financial obligations for the district.

All seven members must be fully and officially authorized by law to serve.

Right now, two of the seven are not. This means there are five legal members on the board and two who are not. South Carolina law calls them usurpers; they could also be called impostors or pretenders.

The five legal members of the Board should not tolerate this and should insist that the oath of office be administered legally to Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes without further delay.

After that, the board will have the responsibility to clean up all the messes that have accumulated since November 13, 2018.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Remember the RVHS fight? teacher vs. student

Remember all the hoop-da-la about the teacher at Ridge View High School who ended up in  a fight with a student?

If you watch WIS-TV (Channel 10, Columbia) or read the news online, now you'll know the rest of the story.

A pre-trial intervention deal was struck. The terms were not included in the WIS-TV article. The usual outcome of such a deal is, after it is successfully completed, charges are being dismissed. This apparently is the expectation of former teacher Karon Wilson, Jr., who also expects that the charges will be expunged from court records. His attorney will inform him how that gets done.


Wilson was quoted in the WISTV.com news article: “I didn’t do anything wrong," Wilson said. "There’s no admission of guilt and I’m thankful for God for making this happen and for the support my students gave me. I don’t know anybody that has gotten hit in the face that would not react the same way. I don’t care if it’s a child or an adult, no teacher should ever be put in a position to be hit by a student in any regard."


At the end of May local news reported that Wilson had quit his teaching job. My guess is that he might have done that in anticipation of being canned by the District. It seemed to me, from the video at the time, that Wilson was defending himself.

The most that should have happened at the time was for Wilson to be placed on paid leave while the charges were investigated and resolved. What happened?


Would the District have backed him up and presumed he was innocent? Did he figure that he wasn't going to get a fair shake from the District? Now that the charges are to be dismissed and expunged, will he sue the District?

Do Richland 2 teachers and staff qualify for battle pay?

Richland 2 Football - The State piles on

In a story date-lined yesterday, August 17, at 11:11AM, The State newspaper piled on with its own story about ethics violations in the Richland 2 Athletics Department.

Read Lou Bezjak's story on www.thestate.com. Search for Blythewood High or the coach's name, Jason Seidel. A typical legal-approved, carefully-worded statement from Richland 2 was enough to make any sane person laugh. Like Lou's story? Write him at LBezjak@thestate.com

Quoting The State's quote of the Richland 2 PR puff piece, "recruiting 'for athletic purposed is a serious ethical violation.'"

Somehow, I think Richland 2 shouldn't be talking any ethics violations being "serious", when the Board itself overlooks ethics violations by it own members and especially by Trustees-elect, who aren't even members of the board, yet claim the office and get paid for it.

Did the Board ever take any action against Amelia McKie for violating Board Policy when she did not file Statements of Economic Interests with the South Carolina Ethics Commission for several years during his first term, 2014-2018? Or for her similar violations twice already in 2019?

Those violations are costing McKie $51.750 (fines and penalties by the S.C. Ethics Commission), but did the Richland 2 School Board ever address the violations of Board Policy?

And when McKie and Teresa Holmes took the oath of office illegally on November 13, 2018, did the five legal board members object or stand up and say, "Whoa! Wait just one minute!"

So I'm really questioning the "serious" part of the ethics violation allegedly committed by Coach Seidel.

Sure, such recruiting actions are wrong. But the Board should really be careful about throwing the yellow Ethics flag down on the field.

Be brave. Comment below. Surely, not all Richland 2 employees and parents are afraid to comment...  If you are, email me. Your confidence and privacy will be respected.

Friday, August 16, 2019

High School Football Recruiting

Columbia's WIS-TV reports today (August 16, 2019) that a smelly situation existed earlier this year in Richland 2 athletics. Read the long, exhaustive article on the WISTV.com website at https://www.wistv.com/2019/08/16/investigation-suggests-blythewood-hs-coach-tried-recruit-student-athletes/

You can safely click on the link, copy and paste it, or go directly to www.wistv.com and search for the article.

I've attending almost all the school board meetings since January, and I don't remember any mention of this.

If you are interested in all the gory details, read the WIS-TV news article. They did an excellent job of digging out the dirt and reporting it.

You can bet that the administrators and the lawyers were busy word-smithing the response by Richland 2.

In my opinion, if there is a major ethics problem with an employee, then you give that employee an "opportunity to be happily employed somewhere else."

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Coach Terry on AEDs

At the August 13 school board meeting, the one speaker during the Public Participation segment was Coach Lawrence Terry, a Richland 2 employee at Richland Northeast High. You can view his comments on the YouTube recording for August 13, 2019, at 20:20 on the timer.

Coach Terry spoke about the importance of Automated External Defibrillators (AED) and especially of the importance of the training that should precede Certification.


Coach Terry suffered sudden cardiac arrest last year and mentioned a student who also suffered such a heart event, although the student was not on campus at the time. He spoke about the need for the equipment to be available where their use might suddenly be called for, such as on a sports field. If the AED is hanging on the wall somewhere back in a building, too much time might elapse before it could be found and brought to a victim on a field. He also referenced cold tubs to treat those who become over-heated and the ice required for the tub.

Of course, who would expect a member of the track team or football team out in 100ยบ to become overheated or have a heart event??? 

No employee of Richland 2 should sign any document that reads that he has received adequate training in First Aid, CPR or use of an AED, if he has not received that training.

Don't stick your neck out. If you sign it and you haven't received the training, guess who will be hung out to dry when the truth comes out?

If you are expected to hold a Certification, then get the training, and get enough of it to be competent to administer aid.

Parents: ask where the AEDs are, how many there are, and how many Certificated employees know how to use them. Ask about First Aid. Ask about CPR training.

Employees: do you know where the First Aid kits are? Do you know where the AEDs are? Are they where they are supposed to be? Did you ever open the door of the First-Aid cabinet and look inside? Do you know what all those bandages and wraps are for? Are they adequately stocked? Do you know exactly what to do, if a student or colleague or visitor suffers a serious injury in your classroom?

If the First Aid kits are depleted, send a written request to your Supervisor and request re-stocking. And then follow up. New supplies should be in place within a week. There is no reason for it to take longer.

Ask the Principal of your kids' schools to sponsor First Aid and CPR training and training for using an AED. And what to do if someone is choking. Can you perform the Heimlich Maneuver safely?

Supt. Gets Whopping 12.3% Raise

At the August 13, 2019 Regular Meeting of the school board, the board voted 7-0 to award an "Overall  Distinguished" evaluation to Supt. Davis.

Then they moved on to a Motion related to the superintendent's employment contract. Go to YouTube and watch this portion of the meeting, which starts at 26:00 on the timer.

As read by Trustee Caution-Parker the Motion included terms "reviewed and discussed" in executive session for a two-year contract extension (to June 30, 2023), a 12.3% increase in his annual salary, an additional 2.5% increase in his annuity, and a simple majority vote of the board for actions pursuant to Section 11D of the contract. The motion was seconded by Trustee Shadd.

Section 11D was not explained.

The discussion of the Motion was quite interesting. First, Trustee Elkins-Johnson commented. She stated that she would not support the new contract for one reason - the Board was not allowed an opportunity to discuss the matter. She stated that the Board Chair (James Manning) had telephoned each board member to poll them. She supported many provisions in the renewal contract, but she said the board was not allowed to pull one item out. She objected to the "Super Majority" provision in the contract renewal, on which she did not elaborate.

Trustee-elect Holmes (who actually should not be at the board table and should not have had access to the contract or the executive session, because she has never taken the oath of office legally to become a full-fledged board member) stated that she would support the contract renewal, but she too did not like the Super Majority condition. She too said that the board could not pull that one provision out for discussion.

The truth is that the Board could have pulled it out. Somebody had put the contract amendment together. "Somebody" could have been told to continue to negotiate it with the superintendent. They couldn't "vote" on that in Executive Session, because no decisions can be made in Executive Session, nor can they choose up sides in Executive Session. They got bullied on that, and it worked.

But at the open session, a board member could have made a motion to pull that section out of the contract for discussion. The vote might have passed 4-3, or it might have failed 3-4. My guess is that it would have failed.

Holmes went on to say that the board decides by majority vote (4/7) on every other issue, and she did not agree with the requirement of a Super Majority (5/7) to remove the superintendent. She added that she was not planning to seek his removal. But her objection was not strong enough to cause her to vote No on the contract renewal.

Holmes said she would support the contract (YouTube @29:15), "because the majority actually ruled on this..."

WAIT JUST ONE MINUTE. When did the majority "rule" on that? What did she mean by "rule"? Did they take a vote in Executive Session?

Trustee Agostini made the final comment on the contract renewal. She stated two reasons for not being able to support the new contract for the superintendent. Her first reason was the requirement of a Super Majority vote to oust the superintendent, should that concern arise. Her second reason was concern about setting precedence "with such a large salary increase."

Board Chair Manning explained for the public that the board did have the opportunity to discuss the contract in Executive Session on more than one occasion "before coming to the final decision."

Then Trustee Elkins-Johnson made her final comment, saying "We did not have an opportunity as a board to discuss salary or any other concerns. We had an opportunity as a board to express our concerns only [emphasized] to the Chair."

The vote on the Motion to approve the renewal contract for Supt. Davis was 5-2 ("No" votes by Elkins-Johnson and Agostini).

Section 11D was not explained publicly.

Was there a violation of the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act?

South Carolina's Freedom of Information Act is found in Title 30, Chapter 4, Section 30-4-70 (b) which reads, in part, "No action may be taken in executive session except to (a) adjourn or (b) return to public session. The members of a public body may not commit the public body to a course of action by a polling of members in executive session.

(c) No chance meeting, social meeting, or electronic communication may be used in circumvention of the spirit of requirements of this chapter to act upon a matter over which the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power.

Was a decision, conclusion or agreement reached in the Executive Session? What did Trustee-elect Holmes mean when she said, "because the majority actually ruled on this..." Did she mean that a vote was taken in Executive Session and the majority (4/7) "ruled" in favor?

What did Chair Manning mean when he said, "the board did have the opportunity to discuss the contract in Executive Session on more than one occasion 'before coming to the final decision'."

Did the polling of the board members on the topic of the superintendent's contract constitute a violation of the Freedom of Information Act? Could his calls to each board member be construed as the prohibited "electronic communication"?

Regarding Trustee Agostini's reference to "such a large salary increase", on his Statement of Economic Interests Report filed with the South Carolina Ethics Commission, dated February 15, 2019, Supt. Davis listed his salary as $189,108, plus an $18,000 automobile allowance. Calculating 12.3% of $189,108, the superintendent picked up a raise of $23,260.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Concealed firearm in school board meeting

At last evening's Richland 2 School Board meeting there was a man carrying a concealed firearm in the meeting room just before the meeting started. I had noticed him in the room, wearing a cap with some type of image, and then I observed the "imprint" of a possible firearm under his shirt. A little later as he walked from the front of the room to the exit door in the back of the room, his sweatshirt had ridden up to reveal the butt of a semi-automatic pistol in an inside-the-belt holster.

People in the room seemed to know him, and I am not alarmed in the presence of concealed firearms, even though I know it is illegal for most citizens to carry them on school property.

After a speaker addressed the board during the public participation segment, he left the room, and I followed because I wanted to learn more about his topic. I'll have to wait for the YouTube recording, as most of his words were lost in space, even though I was sitting only two rows behind him.

In the lobby the man with the concealed firearm was speaking to him. As I waited, I noticed there was a logo on his shirt for Richland 2 and "Emergency Services". Upon inquiring at the information desk, I learned he might be the assistant manager of some department. Emergency Services usually includes a wide range of services.

If the Richland 2 School Board is going to permit certain employees to be armed, I wonder if they have made a decision about concealed-carry by employees in civilian attire and how a visitor, parent or other employee is to know that that person is legally on campus with a firearm.

Obviously, the man's firearm should have been concealed at all times, and a shirt or sweatshirt should be long enough in the back to cover the firearm. "Printing" is a concern, because then the carrier's firearm is not fully concealed. But visible is different than "printing".

Should District 2 have a policy that armed employees are to wear a uniform that clearly identifies them as armed school security personnel? Examples might be a shirt with a badge, the word "Security" (it would not be permissible to use "Police"), or a school security badge worn in a belt holder. Could a school security officer even legally carry a firearm in a holster on his belt?

Or perhaps District 2 ought to just authorize any law-abiding citizen to carry concealed on campus and issue the appropriate written authorization, to be carried when armed on campus. That will happen right after the sun comes up in the West some morning!

When I looked for that man after talking with the speaker from the public participation segment, that man had apparently gone on to other duties. I didn't get a chance to ask him who he was or to introduce myself. How might he have responded if I had said, "I notice you are carrying a firearm. May I ask what your authority is to do so on campus?"

Monday, August 12, 2019

45 Policies to be Approved - Absurd!

The absurdity continues.

Tomorrow night the school board will be asked by the superintendent to approve 45 (FORTY-FIVE) Board Policies  Presumably these are all revisions to Board Policies, although the Agenda does not so state. Of course, this isn't solely the fault of the superintendent, because both the Board Chair and he created the agenda late last week.

Jamming 45 Policies into one meeting almost guarantees a lack of quality attention by the board members.

Let's say that each board member spent just five minutes carefully considering each revision. 45 x 5 = 225 minutes (almost four hours). Won't some of them be bleary-eyed or begin to skim, rather than read closely? Will some of them even bother to read any of them at all?

That whole revision project looks to me like a make-work project. The next thing they will be doing is going through each and every Policy to make it genderless.

I recall a neighbor who worked for the Federal Government telling me in 1972 that her job consisted of reading government documents and changing every "he" to "he or she" and every "him" to "him or her". And for that she earned $35,000/year (1972 dollars)  I remember thinking that I should have been a government employee!

If she is still there, now she's probably now changing every "him or her" to the (grammatically incorrect) "they". This is now how newspaper reporters refer to the injured or deceased single-occupant driver of a vehicle. To be gender-correct (and wrong), they refer to him or her as "they".

8/13/19 Board Meeting - Special Recognition

At the August 13, 2019 Regular Board Meeting the Special Recognition portion is to include acknowledgement of 13 employees.

And two trustees-elect will be recognized for completing levels of "Boardmanship" with the South Carolina School Boards Association (SCSBA).

The problem? The two trustees-elect are not legitimate Board Members of the Richland 2 School Board and should not be members of the SCSBA.

The School District is on thin ice when it pays any membership fees or course fees for Amelia McKie's and Teresa Holmes' involvement with the SCSBA, because neither McKie nor Holmes has ever legally taken the oath of office to serve as a board member.

They are trustees-elect, not Trustees.

All they have to do is take the oath of office, and they will be official. But the District and the Board seem to have dug in their heels and refuse to obey, honor and respect the state law of South Carolina.

The longer this goes on, the more serious it becomes.

Both became eligible to take the oath of office on December 4, 2018, when they filed their Statements of Economic Interests with the South Carolina Ethics Commission.

Back in March a senior officer at the Richland County Sheriff's Department asked me why McKie and Holmes didn't just take the oath of office (legally). I didn't have an answer for him.

As I recall my interview with two SLED investigators at the South Carolina Attorney General's office in May, I was asked the same question. I still didn't have an answer.

And I still don't know the answer today.

But one day the District is going to have to answer that question.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

School Board should direct, not manage

The Special Called Board Meeting on August 6, 2019 should prompt a reminder to board members of their own duties and powers.

The board directs. It does not manage the School District. That's the job of the Superintendent. He is the Administrator, and he alone tells staff what to do and not do.

During the nitpicking of the Meal Plan Debt segment of the meeting (which should have been a five-minute report), many requests were made to staff members; ex., copies of letters to be sent to parents; information about the debt per school, the age of the debt, etc.

The questions are fine, but they should have been directed to the superintendent.

A review of certain Board Policies might be helpful to some of the board members.

Policy BBA Board Powers and Duties reads, in part, 
Executive
The board will employ a superintendent to serve as the chief executive officer. In that role, the superintendent performs administrative duties for the board by virtue of the powers delegated to him/her. The board will hold the superintendent accountable for the proper and efficient administration of the district.

Policy BBAA Board Member Authority And Responsibilities reads, in part,

The board and its members will deal with administrative services through the superintendent and will not give orders to any subordinates of the superintendent either publicly or privately but may make suggestions and recommendations.

Policy BC Board Member Conduct reads, in part, 

It is the responsibility of each board member to do the following (in part):
  • Understand that the basic function of a school board is policymaking, not administration, and accept the responsibility of learning to discriminate intelligently between these two functions.
It may be necessary for the superintendent to run interference and "protect" his employees from Board Member requests. I'm confident that CFO Miley and Will Anderson are creating carefully-worded letters that should prompt responses from parents regarding the meal debt.

The original plan was to send three letters to parents. At the meeting it was explained that the superintendent directed the staff to send four letters, with the fourth letter informing parents that the debt would be sent to Collection, if a parent did not contact the District about the debt.

How many times do you have to ask for parents to step up to their responsibility? The three-letter plan was sufficient. If you continue to ask and ask and ask, parents actually learn that they don't have to respond, because you will just keep asking. Keep in mind that they had plenty of warning of the increasing debt through weekly phone calls and emails, which they must have ignored.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Update on the School Board

For some unknown reason the Richland 2 School Board has been willing to allow two persons to serve illegally on the school board. The following is a summary of allegations that have been made monthly, beginning in February 2019.

Who are the two persons?

The persons are Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes. At this time they are Trustees-elect of the School Board, but they are not duly-constituted Trustees.

In what way are they serving illegally?

McKie and Holmes were elected on November 6, 2018. Each took the oath of office (illegally) on November 13, 2018 without having filed her Statement of Economic Interests Report with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. Each filed her Report on December 4, 2018. Each has been eligible to take the oath of office since December 4, 2018. Neither has taken the oath of office (legally).

Why is this a problem?

McKie and Holmes are being allowed to participate in Board matters, attend Executive Sessions where confidential District and student matters are discussed, vote on Board motions, receive compensation that is normally only paid to Trustees and benefit from expenses paid by the District for professional memberships, conferences, travel, etc.

What are the laws?

The first law of importance is S.C. Code of Laws Section 8-13-1110 (A). This law says that a person may not take the oath of office or enter upon official responsibilities without filing the Statement of Economic Interests. (Note the exact order of the words.)

The second law of importance is S.C. Code of Laws Section 15-63-60 (1). This law pertains to the person who usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises any public office.

FIRST. CLEAR VIOLATION

Trustees-elect McKie and Holmes clearly violated the law on November 13, 2018. They took the oath of office on November 13, 2018, and their notarized Oaths have been filed. They filed the Statements of Economic Interests on December 4, 2018. Those are public records and can be viewed on the website of the South Carolina Ethics Commission.

SECOND. KNOWLEDGE

McKie and Holmes know by now (and have known since February 2019) that they clearly violated the law by taking the oath of office without having filed their Statements of Economic Interests. It doesn't matter that they might not have known the requirement on November 13, 2018. They should have known it; they were expected to know it. But they certainly have known since February 2019.

THIRD. INTENT

McKie and Holmes have continued to violate Section 15-63-60 (usurping public office) by attending Board meetings and pretending to serve as Trustees when they are, in fact, only Trustees-elect.

They can become full-fledged Trustees only by taking the oath of office legally. They could have done this at any time after December 4, 2018.

The big question is why have they not taken the oath of office legally?

Why has the Board tolerated their illegal participation?

To compound matters, Trustee-elect McKie was allowed to serve as Board Chair from November 13, 2018 until June 30, 2019. She was not a legal Board member and, thus, could not serve as legal Board Chair. During that period of time she signed legal documents related to a $26,000,000 sale of Bond Anticipation Notes.

At the end of June, Trustee-elect Holmes was elected as an officer of the Board (Board Vice Chair). Since she is not legally a Board member, she cannot serve legally as Vice Chair.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Contact any or all of the Board members and tell them that you want them to correct this important legal problem without further delay.

Right now the Board has five legal members. A quorum for conducting Richland 2 business is five. If any one of the legal five members is not present, that meeting cannot be held as a official meeting. If one of the legal five arrives late, the meeting cannot start without him or her. If one of the five leaves early, no further action can be officially taken.

Post a comment below, too.

Transgender students?

I wonder what the policy regarding transgender students is at Richland 2 School District. Read this article from the NC Family Policy Council.

Restrooms? Are the restrooms still marked Boys and Girls?

Sports? If a boy decides he's really a girl, does he get to change and shower in the girls' dressing rooms? Is there a girls' wresting team? Do you want a trans-boy wrestling with your daughter?

Parents: Are you paying attention?

Parents had better get ahead of the curve here on this issue. Showing up after the fact (after the board springs a decision on you) will not do you any good. Be informed of anything coming down the pike in Richland County on this issue. Speak up now and know where your board members stand.

How can you find out?

Ask them. By phone. In writing. And then hold them accountable.

Who runs Richland 2 School District?

The South Carolina School Boards Association does not run Richland 2. You do!


Friday, August 9, 2019

Agenda for August 13th Meeting?

Usually the agenda for the next school board meeting is posted by the end of the day on the Thursday before the Tuesday meeting. For the August 13th meeting, then, the agenda would have been posted on the school's website by 5:00PM on Thursday, August 8, 2019.

When that didn't happen, I watched for it today, Friday, August 9. And it didn't happen today, either.

This means, unless somebody works tonight or over the week-end (and let's hope they do not), the agenda will not be published until the day before the meeting, which will be Monday, August 12.

The South Carolina Freedom of Information Act requires that the agenda be posted 24 hours before the meeting.

Since the meeting will likely open at 5:30PM on Tuesday, August 13, you can expect the agenda to be published and posted no later than 5:30PM on Monday, August 12.

The first order of business is a motion to go into Executive Session, which often lasts at least one hour. The Executive Session is a closed meeting, not open to the public. After the Executive Session, the board members return to the main room and re-convene in open session.

The agenda for a meeting usually states the time for the re-convening of the open session.

See the agenda on the District's website, www.richland2.org
At the upper right, click on EXPLORE
Click on School Board
Click on AGENDA
Under Meetings, check the date of the Agenda and click on it
Click on View the Agenda
Scroll down through the Items on the Agenda
To see details, click on the Item.
If an attachment is available for the Item, click on it for details

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Quorums and Roll Calls

At the August 6, 2019 Special Called Board Meeting it was fortunate, in my opinion, that there were no votes on any items. Wait! There was a vote. And, had it been taken correctly, the meeting might never have gotten underway. [CORRECTION. (8/9/19) There was a vote on the Executive Session item "diploma petition". Mr. Manning's voice can be heard on the YouTube recording of the meeting, but I did not hear him in the meeting room - because the microphones do not amplify board members' voices in the room.]

The School Board has slots for seven members. According to Board Policy, a quorum is five.

In other words, if five board members don't show up, there is no official meeting.

At 5:30PM, when Board Chair Manning called the meeting to order, Trustee James Shadd was not in his chair.

Here's the problem.

Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes are not fully-qualified, duly-seated members of the board. In other words, their presence doesn't count - legally.

They took the oath of office illegally on November 13, 2018, so that is like never taking it at all. After they filed their Statements of Economic Interest Reports on December 4,  2018 with the South Carolina Ethics Commission, each became eligible to take the oath of office and enter upon official responsibilities. McKie and Holmes have never taken the oath of office legally.

So McKie and Holmes are not legally on the Board.

The legally-seated board members who were present at 5:30PM were Manning, Caution-Parker, Elkins-Johnson and Agostini. Count - 1-2-3-4. One short of a quorum.

The next problem is that this Board never calls the roll. At the beginning of the (first) open session, whether a Regular or Special Called Meeting, the Secretary should call the roll and record who is present and who is not present. Then there is a motion to go to Executive Session and a vote.

Shadd was present after the executive session, when the open session resumed. His absence should have been noted at 5:30PM, and his presence recorded at 6:43PM, when the open session resumed. Picky? Sure, but correct.

In some states the vote for Executive Session must be by individual calling of names, not en masse by show of hands. Then the board exits to a private meeting room for the Executive Session.

When the board reconvenes in open session (after the Executive Session), another roll call should be taken, again recording who is present and who is not.

The Minutes of the board meetings do contain attendance. The Minutes are prepared by a staff employee and presumably carefully read and approved by the Board Secretary before they are submitted to the board for approval. I don't think I have ever heard a board member on Minutes or request a correction.

The Richland 2 School Board is a public body. When time permits, I'll do some digging to learn more this aspect of the S.C. Open Meetings Act.

Regarding the August 6 Executive Session, was the purpose of one item adequately described? The Agenda reads, "Item 2.1 A Contractual Matter Regarding the Superintendent's Evaluation". Is that enough, or should the agenda have stated the nature of the contractual matter to be discussed?

The Newberry County Council had a $13.000 lesson in July 2017, because it had failed to describe adequately the topic to be discussed in an executive session.

And two years before that, the North Augusta (S.C.) City Council found itself in the S.C. Supreme Court over "proposed contractual matter".

So was it enough in the 8/6/19 Richland 2 Agenda to say it pertains to the Superintendent's evaluation? Or should there have been a little more detail?

South Carolina has a very weak Open Meetings Act, when compared to the state of my previous residence.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Thank you for speaking into the microphones

A big shout-out to Supt. Baron Davis for speaking into his microphone at the Special Called Board Meeting last night. Thank you. You could be heard and understand in the meeting room.

Teresa Holmes also spoke into her microphone. Thank you!

Now, a word to the other board members. Do you know that, when you sit back from your microphone and/or do not speak directly into it, your voice is not amplified in the room? Yes, it is picked up for the recording that is later broadcast on YouTube, but your soft voices cannot be heard by all who are actually seated before you in the room.

It was very difficult to hear Dr. Elkins-Johnson, Mrs. Agostini and Mr. Shadd. Board Secretary Caution-Parker didn't utter a peep during the portion of the meeting I attended.

Perhaps a short training class for the board would be helpful. The District's sound man could conduct it and coach the board members on where to place the microphone when they are speaking. Let them practice moving the microphone to about 6" from their mouth and then speaking into it. If they need lessons in elocution, provide them. A teacher (with tenure) from the speech department could coach them on breathing and voice projection. In other words, stop mumbling, Raise your head and speak into the microphone.

Little of what was said at the podium by the two staff members who presented the report on the Conference Center use could not be heard. And much of what was presented about the Meal Debt could not be heard. Dr. Elkins and Mrs. Agostini asked many questions about the process for collection. After the board comments and questions went on and on, the Board Chair interrupted with a request to halt the discussion and move on to other business.

While it is the board's prerogative to ask questions, the responsibility for Meal Debt management and collection is on the Superintendent's desk, and Supt. Davis correctly said so. The board members should be careful not to appear to be micro-managing the collection process. I felt that many of the good comments about the process should have been directed to the superintendent, not to the staffers.

I left at 7:49PM, when the board began wading through the many policy revisions on the agenda. I guess it's always possible that they set a record by moving swiftly through the revisions on the Agenda.

Special Called Meeting - waste and disrespect

Last night the Richland 2 School Board held a Special Called Board Meeting. The scheduled starting time was 5:30PM, and the Agenda showed that the Board would immediately go into Executive (closed) Session. And that's what they did.

But first a word about the room set-up. Apparently the board expected little or no turn-out from an audience, and they had the "wagons circled", effectively shutting out the public. The tables were set up in a U-shape, with the board and superintendent at the top and staff seated along both sides. And a podium set up at the open end of the U.

At 5:30PM a row of chairs was lined up along one wall. Along the other wall? Enough food to feed a lot of people. The district apparently treats the board to dinner, in exchange for showing up at a Special Called Meeting. A few of the board members helped themselves to food before leaving the room for the Executive Session. At least some of the food may have been catered by McCallister's.

There were about 20 District 200 staff members in attendance at 5:30PM. Few of them ate, and they all cooled their heels until the board finally returned about 6:43PM. Assuming these staff members are paid over-time or receive compensatory time-off for this after-hours duty, their waiting time is totally wasted, just waiting for the board to return.

Staffers should be asked to show up by the time when they are actually needed. This is certainly no sooner than the beginning of the public (open) session after the Executive Session; it could even be 10-30 minutes after the open session begins, because other agenda items precede staff reports.

The meeting agenda is created by the Board Chair and the Superintendent. Did they just overlook establishing the starting time of the open session? Did they expect that the main item in the Executive Session (pertaining to the superintendent) might take only 5-10 minutes?

The Board demonstrated great disrespect for the public and for the staffers who had nothing to do for an hour and ten minutes.

Just before the open session began, additional chairs were set up at the back of the room, and shortly about eight teachers showed up. They got the premier seating, where they might have had a better chance of hearing what was said during the meeting. When the open session began, there was no mention of any Executive Sessions items needing a vote.

A noteworthy item missing from the Special Called Meeting was the Pledge of Allegiance. Why is a Special-Called Meeting different from a Regular Meeting? It should be in every way just the same as a Regular Meeting, as the Board is the official governing body of the District, including a Public Participation segment.

And a regular feature of a Special Called Meeting seems to be food. Maybe the district should allow anyone present to partake of the refreshments. It appeared that a good amount of the food was going to left over. What would happen if the public just walked over and helped themselves to the left-over food?

Better yet, why is the food set up in the public meeting room or served at all? Board members are paid well for attending meetings. They could eat before arriving.

Meal Plan Debt - Part II

After hearing most of the discussion regarding the Meal Plan Debt at last night's Special Called Board Meeting, I may have figured out the answer to one of my questions about the amount of the debt. That question is the amount owed by families, when the balance is less than $100.

The Meal Plan Debt is almost $242,000. The Update indicates that the district is trying to collect $218,000 from full-pay families, not from families of students on free or reduced-price lunch plans.

Number of letters sent to full-pay families: 939
Number of letters returned:                            93  (10%)
Numbers of letters presumed delivered:       826

Debit of full-pay families owing $100 or more:       $218,000
Average debt/family:                                                $       232.16 ($218000/939)

Total Meal Plan Debt:                          $242,000
Full-pay families ($100 or more)         $218,000
Full-pay families (Less than $100):     $  26,000*

* Collection attempt is limited to phone calls and email, not threatening letters

197 families have coughed up $9, 137 so far. That's a paltry average of $46.38 per payment.

If 197 families had paid just the minimum amount of $100 targeted for collection, then the district would have received $19,700.

The Update indicated that 742 accounts remain targeted for collection. That number is 197 (the number of payments received) less than the 939 total accounts.

Will the district attempt to collect the balance on account for which only a partial payment was received?

If you would like to view the presentation to the board on the Meal Plan Debt and the discussion, see the YouTube recording for the August 6, 2019 Special Called Board Meeting. Pull the counter forward to 31:20 and hang on!

I missed this from Chief Financial Officer Dr. Miley's word in the meeting, when he said (about parents of full-pay students), "Some of them owe more than $1,500."

The entire discussion was very good and should be viewed by every parent. If you have comments, please post them below and inform your board member.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Voice on Judgment against McKie

The Independent Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County newspaper (print and online) published a thorough article about the recent judgment filed against Amelia McKie, who still sits on the board of Richland School District Two. Reporter Michael Smith's article is dated August 1, 2019 and details the $51.750 judgment and the reasons for it. Click on the link to read his article, or go to www.blythewoodonline.com, click on News, and scroll down to the August 1st article. You may need to click on Next at the bottom of the page, if the article is no longer on Page 1.

Smith also describes the late filing of McKie's Campaign Disclosure Form that was due July 10, 2019. The Report must be filed quarterly, and this is the second time in 2019 that McKie has been late. Smith's article said that he contacted McKie by phone message on July 18 and within an hour the Report appeared on the Ethics Commission website.

While not reported in his article, that tardiness cost McKie $100.00 in a civil fine by the South Carolina Ethics Commission.

McKie wrote to Smith, "My campaign disclosures were prepared in advance of July 10 and were ‘saved’ until the July 10th date."

Smith then reports what the Executive Director of the South Carolina Ethics Commission told him - that "McKie started the online application process on July 10, but didn’t complete it until Thursday [July 18]."

So who is telling the truth. My money is on the words of the Ethics Commission Executive Director. 

When the whole ethics and fines snarl became a topic of public discussion at school board meetings at the beginning of 2019, McKie said she was taking responsibility for her mistakes, apologized, and said they wouldn't happen again.

She managed to file on time the Campaign Disclosure Report that was due on January 10, 2019.

Then she was late filing the Report due April 10, 2019 (filed on May 8) and she was late filing the Report that was due July 10 (filed July 18).

Aside from the unresolved questions surrounding the legitimacy of her participation on the board and that she served illegally as Board Chair from November 13, 2018 to June 30, 2019 and signed official bond documents as Board Chair in 2019), it is not rocket science to file the Campaign Disclosure Report online.

It's actually quite simple. She is reporting the same numbers as on previous reports. You open the form and plug in the numbers. Then you read each prompt and follow it. I suspect there is no secret language on the form. As with any other online online, a submission is not complete until the message is visible that so indicates.

How can you make decisions on the board of a billion-dollar school district, when you can't even submit a simple report on time?

Richland 2 has a Board Policy pertaining to compliance with reporting obligations.

The board is spending considerable time nitpicking board policies so that they can catch employees and students doing something wrong. What about enforcing the board policies when board members, or those pretending to be, are caught doing things wrong?

Of course, McKie could self-report her Board Policy violations. 

I am reminded of the late Reuben Greenberg, the former Chief of Police in Charleton, S.C. When he was a rookie cop, he got into an accident while enroute to a call. In an article in Guideposts magazine years ago, he told the interviewer that the accident was his fault, so he wrote himself a ticket!
Reuben Greenberg (1943-2014) ©The Talon


Monday, August 5, 2019

How high is student meal debt?

On the Agenda for tomorrow night's school board meeting (5:30PM, August 6, 2019) is Item 5.4, Update: Meal Debt.

An attachment to the Agenda, available for public viewing, shows that this debt is "almost $242,000". This makes one wonder just who was watching the store!!!

The district is trying to collect $218,000 from full-pay families. It is not a debt of free/reduced eligible families.

How does this debt approach almost one-quarter of a million dollars???

You can view the PowerPoint program through the Agenda or by clicking on this link.

I was first reminded of words spoken by the wise Yoda. "Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try." Don't "try" to collect the debt. Collect it!!!

The district sent letters to delinquent parents on June 27 and July 18, but apparently only to those owing $100 or more. NOTE: WHAT DID IT DO BEFORE JUNE 27???

The district mailed 939 letters; 10% were returned as undeliverable. $9,137 came in on 197 accounts, but the PowerPoint presentation doesn't indicate whether those were full or partial payments. Obviously, it was mostly partial payments, because the average payment was only $46.38. What about the rest???

A third letter is being mailed today The fourth letter will go out on August 16 and informs parents that the debt will be turned over to a collection agent.


If 939 accounts owe $242,000, that's an average of $257.72 EACH. Some owe more; some owe less. All owe at least $100.00.

Only 23% (197/846) who got one of the first two letters sent any money at all.

The average payment received from 197 respondents was only $46.38 ($9137/197).

Come on, folks. If a full-pay student keeps showing up for lunch with no money, why didn't the district take action long before the balance got close to $100.00?

What's the plan to collect from the rest of the deadbeats? How many accounts have balances of $99.99 or less?

Should the district hire a bill collector (cost?) or sic a polite, well-trained employee on these deadbeats? Or maybe hire a part-time employee to contact every one of the 939 debtors with the higher balances and those with smaller balances?

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Absolute Foolishness

A special school board meeting has been called for Tuesday, August 6, 2019. The meeting will start with an Executive (private) Session at 5:30PM.

Two items are on the Agenda for the Executive Session. The board will discuss in private 1) a contractual matter regarding the superintendent's contract and 2) a diploma petition.

The starting time for the Open (Public) Session was omitted from the Agenda. It could be 6:00PM or later, depending on how long the board takes to discuss the "contractual matter". Or the Open session could begin as early as 5:35PM. If you don't want to miss the beginning of the open session, you might plan to arrive at 5:30PM.

Under Old Business (No Action Requested), four items are listed on the Agenda.

Here's the kicker! Under New Business (No Action Requested) there are THIRTY-TWO (32) Board Policies submitted for consideration and revision. Normally, the Policies to be revised are shown on the Agenda and can be viewed through attachments.

For the August 6 Special Called Board Meeting, the attachments are not included, which means the public has no idea what the board is being asked to consider. The board members receive the proposed revisions before the meeting, sometimes not very far before the meeting. At least one board member publicly asked for revisions to be sent to board members much earlier, so they'd have time to study them.

Swamping board members with THIRTY-TWO Policy Revisions at a Special Meeting is nuts. The Board should direct the Superintendent to present them with a small number at each meeting, perhaps five. There are matters of much greater importance than nitpicking board policies.

Perhaps a board member will make a motion to limit the number of revisions to be presented at any one meeting, and perhaps a second board member will second. And perhaps at least two other board members will be brave enough to hop aboard and support the first two.

There will be no Public Participation segment at the August 6th meeting.