Thursday, October 31, 2019

Use of Force Against Disruptive Students

At the last two Richland 2 School Board meetings a member of the public has mentioned two incidents when a School Resource Officer (SRO) used force against a student.

One was the October 2015 incident at Spring Valley High School. A student, Shakara (last name?), a minor, had been disruptive, and an assistant principal and the SRO were summoned to the classroom. Niya Kenny leaped to her feet and began recording with her cell phone, also uttering a disparaging phrase about Deputy Ben Fields, the SRO. After Shakara refused to follow the SRO's directions, he removed her from her desk.

The press went crazy locally and nationally and repeatedly broadcast and published Kenny's video. No media ever published an earlier video that, I've been told, showed Shakara slapping Dep. Fields three times. That's called battery on a peace officer, for those of you unfamiliar with criminal law. Kenny's "Glamour Shots" photo was used in the media, rather than her booking photo at the jail in Columbia. The photo was taken by a McClatchy Company photographer from California in Columbia to cover the floods, and it was taken in The State's interview room. What other arrested person gets that kind of treatment?

Fields lost his job and is suing to get it back.

The mistake made at Spring Valley High School was that the policy in place was not followed. When the teacher summoned the assistant principal, the AP should have instructed the teacher to take all the other students and leave the classroom. That would have removed Shakara's audience. At that point, the AP should have been able to "reason" with her. If that didn't work, the AP should have called the SRO. As soon as it become a criminal matter and not a school disciplinary matter, then the SRO does whatever is necessary. Richland 2 policy was not followed; NASRO policy was not followed.

A more recent incident involved three students at Richland Northeast High School who were beating and kicking a student on the ground. The SRO used his taser. The media didn't even name both adult students. If the public knew the circumstances and the size of one of those "children", they would understand why the SRO used his taser after kid refused to end his assault on the kid on the ground.

An SRO will use such degree of force as is necessary to stop an assault and battery. A taser is a low-level, less-than-lethal weapon. If a student refuses to follow an SRO's order to stop an assault or battery, then the SRO will attempt to restrain his physically. If that doesn't work, a taser will be used. If that doesn't work, then additional force will be used..The kid on the ground being beaten must be protected.

"Kids" come today in all sizes, shapes, weights. Many of them are "of generous size". Specific information should be gained before judgments are made.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Does every school need an SRO?

Dr. Harry Miley presented information at last night's board meeting about School Resource Officers (SRO) and their cost. You can watch his presentation on the YouTube recording after it is posted. (Edit: fast-foward to 29:30 on the timer)

State funding will add four SROs to the Richland 2 schools. How many are there now? 23.

Fifteen elementary schools do not have SROs.

Do they need them?

Do you know what the risk of a student's being killed at school with a gun is? 1:614,000,000.

What will additional SROs cost?

In response to a question from Mr. Manning, Dr. Miley quoted figures of $130,000 for first-year capital costs per SRO, plus $55,000 in operating costs per SRO. That's $180,000 per SRO!!! The District contracts with the Richland County Sheriff's Department for SROs.

Whoa! Where is the padding???

While I'm not in favor of Richland 2 having its own police department (as did a junior college back in Illinois where I lived), it could probably provide an armed, trained, qualified, school security officer for $50,000 and about $10,000 or less in "operating costs".

Employees at risk of Misconduct?

Are all employees of Richland 2 now at risk for being disciplined for Misconduct?

The school board last night revised Board Policy GBEB so that it now reads, in part,

"The following list includes, but is not limited to, actions that are considered misconduct while on duty or on or off district property, or at any time when the conduct would disrupt the educational environment or impair the employee's ability to be effective:

" * possessing weapons on school property (See policy JICI for items categorized as weapons.)"

What does Board Policy JICI say about weapons?

"While on school grounds, in school buildings, on buses or at school-related functions, students will not possess any item capable of inflicting injury or harm (hereinafter referred to as a weapon) to persons or property when that item is not used in relation to a normal school activity at a scheduled time for the student. No vehicles parked on school property may contain firearms ..."

"It is a felony offense, punishable by a fine of $1,000 or imprisonment for five years, or both, to carry a weapon as referenced above on school property."

Let's say that an otherwise law-abiding, responsibly-armed teacher or staff member with a South Carolina concealed weapons permit chooses to be armed while commuting to and from work. Upon arrival at school, she or he must, according to state law, store the firearm securely (specified in the law) in the vehicle parked on school grounds.

Do the policy now mean that a staff member cannot store his/her firearm securly in his car, as allowed by state law?

First of all, JICI applies to students, not to teachers or other staff. How will the District reconcile this conflict in Policy language? Or will it?

Richland 2 has declared that some act is a felony, when the fact is that it may not be. Does JICI now apply to staff and teachers, even though nothing in Board Policy seems to specifically say so?

Now that Richland 2 is going to define a weapon as "any item capable of inflicting injury or harm", what kind of problem has it just created?

What items are capable of inflicting injury or harm? Just check out any woman's handbag. Keys? Comb? Nail file? Hair spray? High-heeled shoes? Roll of quarters? Each is capable of being used to inflict injury or harm. What about hands? Feet? Forehead? Any practitioners of karate on the staff?

Amelia McKie brought up again the substitution of "firearms" for "weapons" she apparently cannot understand that a firearm is a weapon.  The original problem came up when the public and the Board found out that two Richland 2 Emergency Services Department employees were carrying guns at work.

The superintendent said last night that he sent a Memorandum to the two ES employees. Is a Memorandum only advisory? Did he specifically rescind the authorization that had previously allowed them to carry on school grounds?

Lindsay Agostini said on October 14 that she is not necessarily opposed to armed employees. I also am not opposed, so long as the proper policy is in place. McKie had a hard time following Agostini's comment that night. Was she thinking about what she wanted to say next, rather than listening to the comment being made? Agostini was talking about the possibility of a future policy; no further question or comment was necessary.

You can view the entire discussion on YouTube, as soon as the District posts the recording.

Also, watch the comment of Kate Williams. Apparently, she was overlooked in the first Public Participation period, and Board Chair Manning moved her up, rather than making her wait for the second Public Participation period. If I heard her correctly, her statement included positions of NASRO (National Association of School Resource Officers), some of which (ex., monthly range qualifications for armed school personnel) are excessive. Few law-enforcement officers (LEO) go to the range on a monthly basis. Many departments require only annual qualification. Any LEO can go to a range as often as he wants, using his own practice ammo.

Monday, October 28, 2019

New Safety Announcement

A new safety message on video was just posted by Supt. Davis. Basically, he tell the kids don't joke around with threats. View the message on YouTube by clicking here.

Richland 2 tip line: 803/736-8756 or via Richland 2 app

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Weapons - Admn. muddies the water

On October 15, 2019 the school board altered the proposed revision of Board Policy GBEB Staff Conduct and removed all authorization for possession of weapons by employees on school grounds.

The existing policy was "possessing weapons on district property (unless otherwise authorized by law)".

The proposed revised policy was "possessing weapons on district property (unless otherwise authorized by law and the superintendent)".

Upon motion by Dr. Elkins-Johnson and seconded by Teresa Holmes, the board approved removing the entire parenthetical portion, leaving the proposed revision as "...possessing weapons on district property." Posssessing a weapon would be considered misconduct by an employee, subjecting him or her to discipline (not to mention the risk of arrest).

The vote was 5-1-1, with McKie voting "No" and Caution-Parker abstaining.

And that's how it ought to be coming back for a vote at the board meeting on October 29. The Board did not direct Administration to add anything to it.

But the Administration tampered with it and is proposing a new line in that bullet point of the Policy. That new line reads "(See policy JICI for items categorized as weapons.)

The problem is that Policy JICI applies to students, not employees. Further, when you read JICI, you will see this: "students will not possess any item capable of inflicting injury or harm (hereinafter referred to as a weapon".

Could any of these items be used to inflict injury or harm? Pen, pencil, ruler, credit card, key, comb, belt, shoelace, feet, hands, forehead, teeth? Students, you better leave them all at home.

Two weeks ago the discussion degraded in a battle of words over knives and box cutters. I was disgusted. A box cutter used in a shop class to open a box is a tool, not a weapon. Same with a knife. If used to assault or intentionally cut a person? It's a weapon. End of discussion.

Lately, I have observed that Richland 2 School District is rivaling the Federal Government in its number and complexity of Board Policies. 

Will the Board be able to vote on October 29 on GBEB and prohibit weapons (including firearms) on school grounds? Or will it have to amend the proposed revision, strike the student-related section added by Administration, and then wait until November 12 to vote?

In the meantime, will two employees continue to carry their concealed firearms? 

On October 29 the Board should direct the Superintendent to rescind his authorization for the two Emergency Services employees, who are not police officers or armed security personnel of the District, to to carry weapons (firearms) on school grounds. The Board's intention is that they not be grandfathered in or allowed to continue to carry, and the Board needs to make that crystal clear.

Why did McKie vote No? Just to "support" the superintendent? Listen to McKie's comments at the close of the discussion, after Elkins-Johnson had asked for the vote. At 1:09:09 on the YouTube recording of the October 15 board meeting, McKie proceeded with praise for Supt. Davis. Basically, she was just sucking up, for whatever reason. Her words added absolutely nothing to the discussion. She usurped the role of the Board Chair, who should have been the one to thank the superintendent. 

Why did Caution-Parker abstain? Is it that hard to pick a side instead of the middle of the road?

The motion actually passed with the minimum number of legal votes necessary - four "Yes" votes. Holmes' vote doesn't count, because she is not a legal member of the board. She illegally took the oath of office on November 13, 2018, as did McKie, before she was eligible to do so, and she (and McKie) has never taken the oath of office after becoming legally eligible to do so on December 4.

One of these days the Board is going to have to go all the way back to November 13, 2018 and review every decision made. Then it will have to remove the votes of McKie and Holmes. Many decisions will change regarding student matters (inclusion transfers and expulsions) and especially the Resolution allowing the Board to remove an officer.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

How's your math?

Better yet, how is your arithmetic?

Most of us learned to add, subtract, multiply and divide somewhere along the way. I'm not so sure about the more recent students in our schools who learned New Math and other newfangled ways to find the sum of two or more numbers. If you are a parent, you've seen the homework that your kids have brought home.

Can they add 347 + 521 without using three sheets of paper or a calculator?

How about $17.50 + $5,058.28?

OK, take your best shot here, readers. Should I run a little contest?

Is the answer $5,525.78?

If you think it is, you'll be in good company. A person sitting on the Richland 2 School Board thinks that is one of the answers. And the S.C. Ethics Commission must think so, because it accepted Campaign Disclosure Reports for three quarters (Filing Dates 5/8/19, 7/18/19 and 10/10/19) with incorrect sums. 

Under Expenditures:
On the Report due 1/10/19 the sum of $17.50 + $5,028.28 is correct as $5,045.78.
On the Report due 4/10/19 the sum of $17.50 + $5,058.28* is incorrect as $5525.78.
On the Report due 7/10/19 the sum of $17.50 + $5,208.28** is incorrect as $5725.78.
On the Report due 10/10/19 the sum of $17.50 + $5,208.28 is incorrect as $5725.78.

* $5,058.28 also was incorrect, because no expenditures were reported for that quarter.
** $5,208.28 also was incorrect, because no expenditures were reported for that quarter.

These reports are really simple to complete and file, especially when you don't have any change in expenditures.

Keep in mind that this person is one of seven making decisions affecting one Billion dollars in assets and money and thousands of employees and students. 

And the person may not even be a legal member of the school board.

Role of the SRO

Just what is the role of the School Resource Officer (SRO)?

Is he there as a "friend" of students and staff? Or is he (or she) there first as a law-enforcement officer.

Board Policy KLGA addresses the SRO's role. Read the Policy, and then consider my request to the Richland 2 School Board. Here is my email to the Board, sent today:

Members of the Richland 2 School Board and trustees-elect McKie and Holmes,

Board Policy KLGA was adopted in April 2019 and is in need of revision. May I ask your attention to the following?

Please state specifically where on the District's website Level III and Level II offenses can be found. I have found them and will be addressing them. If you haven't read Why Meadow Died, I urge you to begin reading it. You'll see how disciplinary handling of criminal offenses led to the 2/14/2018 shooting in Parkland, Fla.


Page 2. "The school resource officer is granted statewide jurisdiction to arrest any persons committing crimes in connection with a school activity or school-sponsored event,"

The School District lacks the authority to grant statewide jurisdiction to SROs. It is the Sheriff's Dept. (their employer) that grants authority to its deputies, who are the SROs. I suggest the appropriate rewording of that sentence.

Under Roles and Responsibilities, this wording appears: 

" ● Establish and maintain a close partnership with the school administration and staff to maintain a safe and constructive learning environment." 

It is not the responsibility of the SRO to establish and maintain a constructive learning environment. I suggest removing "and constructive".

" ● Serve as a resource to administrators and staff concerning law enforcement and child welfare issues."

I suggest deleting "and child welfare". The deputy is a cop and will be less knowledgeable than those assigned to Child Welfare in the County and State.

"Develop educational programs and activities on topics such as crime prevention that will increase a student’s knowledge of and respect for the law and the function of law enforcement agency programs."

The deputy is a cop, not an educator. The School Board must be involved in, and approve, curricula involving "educational programs and activities". Parents must play a part in this, too, as should interested community members.

Memorandum of Understanding

Any deal made between District and the Sheriff's Department MUST be known to, and approved by, the School Board, not just by District Administration.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Another R2 student arrested!

Yet another Richland 2 high school student has been arrested. Are these threats (and commission) of crimes contagious? Who else is concerned about these reports?

This time it was a Westwood High School student. If you don't know where Westwood High School is, look it up on the District's website.

The student allegedly posted an online threat on Wednesday and, on Thursday, a school employee spotted it.

The student was identified only as 17 years old. Possibly male, since The State reporter mentioned "he" (the student) threatened to kill someone.

I say "possibly" male, because today's trend in reporting tends toward gender-neutral descriptions unless gender to known and available. Today's generation of reporters may not know, or may have forgotten, that "he" could mean he or she when not wishing to disclose gender. Too often we read in the printed media "they" being used to describe a single (one) person when wanting to avoid he or she.

OK, so out of 27,000 students there are going to be a few bad apples; right?

I'm curious what is being done in Richland 2 schools (high schools, middle schools and elementary schools) to create good citizens with critical thinking skills who wish to avoid committing crimes and finding themselves in jail with futures destroyed by dumb actions.

What race was the 17-year-old boy? Is there a hint in the news article, where the student's Instagram post reportedly included "better watch y'all back"?

Send the kid back to English class. Teach him the possessive case of "y'all". Shouldn't he have written "better watch y'all's back"? Or correct grammatically, "better watch your back".

OK, I'm assuming the kid was black. Maybe he is one of the young African-American males about whom Board Trustee Elkins-Johnson is so worried (Watch the 10/15/19 YouTube school board recording at 1:08:20 on the timer), when she made her comments at the board meeting on Tuesday night during the discussion about the two (white) employees who have been carrying concealed firearms as they go about the District administrative tasks. You know the ones; the ones who might appear aggressive or loud-spoken. (Are they really just boys who need to be understood culturally.)

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Wrong information on guns carried on school grounds

During the long discussion on carrying weapons at the October 15 board meeting, Supt. Davis said that the two employees (Director and Asst. Director of Emergency Services) were not carrying openly on school grounds. They carried concealed firearms.

Then he said (at 1:05:30), "they did have the authorization to do so", meaning to carry openly.

No, they didn't. South Carolina state law does not allow civilians to carry handguns in the open.

Had the two employees carried openly, they could have been arrested.

Did Supt. Davis mean that he had authorized them to violate state law? That's probably not what he meant.

State guns laws are very specific, technical, and very difficult to understand. Even those who have studied them closely will listen carefully to a question and then try to answer it by what the law really says.

And whether the two employees were even "authorized by law" to carry on school grounds is open to interpretation and to question. Both men may be retired law-enforcement officers. Federal law allows retired (just just former, but retired) officers to carry. But once they take a job, they are no longer "retired".

And I would posit that a retired law-enforcement officer loses his privilege to carry, once he accepts employment, especially in a school, which is, as I understand it, specifically identified as a Gun-Free Zone under Federal law.

A school superintendent cannot grant permission for an employee to break State or Federal laws.

Box cutter? Tool or Weapon?

Want to drive me crazy?

It's a great thing that I could not hear Trustee Shadd mumbling in a low voice at the school board meeting on October 15, when he asked about a box cutter in a shop class. If a teacher has a box cutter in a shop class, does he have a weapon?

And later Teresa Holmes made a refereence to box cutters.

As I saw in the audience, I thought, "I have a weapon right here in my hand." I was holding an EnerGel Liquid Gel Ink writing pen full of blue ink. Is that a weapon?

Are my eyeblasses weapons? Are my hands weapons? My feet? Is a No. 2 pencil a weapon? What about a nail file and a hair clip? What about the buckle on my belt? Heck, what about the belt itself? Or my shoelaces?

The board room Tuesday night was full of weapons!!!

This nonsense drives me crazy.

We have trustees on the school board who apparently cannot discern between a tool and a weapon. Sure, this will anger them to read this. Well, it angered me to hear them waste public time with that drivel.

Yes, a box cutter is a weapon if someone holds it up to my neck and threatens to slice off my head.

No, it is NOT a weapon when used to cut open a box!!!

When Mr. Shadd mentioned knives and said "of a certain length", the staffer seemed to be agreeing. But I don't think the policy refers to length. If a student shows up with his Swiss Army Knife on his belt, he's going to jail.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Weapons Policy: McKie (No); Caution-Parker (Abstain)

When it was time to vote on a Motion at last night's school board meeting, there were two votes that were not surprising.

The Administration had submitted a revision of Board Policy GBEB Staff Conduct. The revision was first discussed at the September 24th board meeting, where it was eventually postponed (rather than "tabled"). A number of board members voiced desired changes.

The Administration returned last night with the same revised policy. The bullet point pertains to employee conduct that would be viewed as an Misconduct.

The existing policy: ● possessing weapons on district property (unless otherwise authorized by law)

The proposed revised policy: ● possessing weapons on district property (unless otherwise authorized by law and the superintendent)

Upon motion by Dr. Elkins-Johnson and seconded by Teresa Holmes, the board approved removing the entire parenthetical portion, leaving the proposed revision as "...possessing weapons on district property."

The vote was 5-1-1, with McKie voting "No" and Caution-Parker Abstaining.

Why would McKie vote "No"? Was it because Supt. Davis' authority was being diminished?

Why would Caution-Parker abstain? There is a clue on the website of the Richland 2 Black Parents Assn.(BPA) The BPA has this to say on its website about Caution-Parker:

"Her claim to fame is her 30 plus years and multiple roles in Richland School District Two. Her tenure on the board has been one of going along to get along. Her platform has basically been whatever the district decides or feels like doing should be supported regardless of the economic burden that it creates for the community. With Ms. Caution-Parker it's all about district first, and everyone else next including parents and students. She demonstrates a commitment to maintaining status quo and approves all initiatives of district with zero questions."

Actually, McKie's "No" vote shouldn't be counted (even though it would not have affected the outcome), and the motion needed a different trustee to second it, since both McKie and Holmes are not legal members of the board.

Just yesterday a Columbia attorney asked me why McKie and Holmes are permitted to sit at the board, and he asked me if I was seeking to have all decisions swayed by their votes since November 13th invalidated. He hit the nail right on the head! He had no hesitation to opine that, if McKie and Holmes took the oath of office before they were eligible to do so (which they did!), then they are not legally on the board.

Curb Gun Violence?

Are you interested in curbing gun violence in Richland County? How about curbing all violence?

Okay, turn off the TV and show up at Rehoboth Baptist Church tomorrow, Thursday, October 17, 2019, at 6:00PM. The church is located at 4646 Hard Scrabble Road, just south of Summit Parkway.

Who will be there?

Richland County Sheriff's Department
Columbia Police Department
Community organizations, including MOMs Demand Action

The Pastor of the Church is Ivory Torrey Thigpen, who is also a S.C. State Representative (House District 79) and a local chiropractor (D.C.).

A while back I offered to participate in any community focus or advisory group that he might assemble to help him with information about proposed gun legislation. I wanted to help him understand what "assault weapons" are (and that they have been generally outlawed in the U.S. since 1934), but I've never been called.

Apparently, I didn't even make it onto his email distribution list for announcement of meetings of this type. I'm glad that I happened across a member of MOMs Demand Action at last night's school board meeting and didn't delay in looking at the MOMs webpage today.

Look for me at tomorrow night's meeting. I'll be the one who is wearing the blue NRA cap in the sea of red MOMs t-shirts. I just hope that no madman shows up with a gun at Pastor Thigpen's church, because we'll all be defenseless in the gun-free zone there.

Should a student be tasered?

Is Richland Northeast High School the most dangerous school in the Richland 2 District? Wasn't it just in the news within the past two weeks?

At last night's school board meeting a speaker addressed the board on the topic of weapons and firearms, which would be discussed later by the board as part of its review of Board Policy GBEB. He mentioned the tasering of a student. Watch the YouTube recording, starting at 20:46 on the timer.

At the time of the meeting I hadn't heard about the fight on Monday at Richland Northeast High School. After returning home, I read this article on

My answer to the question is a resounding "Yes!"

If an SRO responds to a fight on school grounds and three punks are punching and kicking a student on the ground, if the SRO can't quickly break up the fight, then he will begin using "such force as is necessary". If that's a taser, use it!

And if the taser doesn't work and one of the punks is about to kill or seriously injure the kid on the ground, then the SRO is very likely going to shoot him. And he shouldn't have to worry about getting fired over it.

A taser is a less-than-lethal weapon. A death or serious injury usually does not occur after its use.

But I've got to ask - What is really going on at Richland Northeast High School?

What are the demographics of that school compared to, say, Blythewood High School or Ridge View or Spring Valley?

I've already been told (not by anyone connected with the school district), "A school with a high percentage of black students should have a black SRO, because he'll understand the black culture."

I responded to my acquaintance that I thought many Richland 2 schools probably have black SROs, but I don't agree with the idea that you must assign a black SRO to a "black" school. If you want to promote separation and racism, then that's what you do. We expect the SROs to be color-blind in the administration of justice, and that's exactly what the students and parents should be.

But what about the "school-to-prison pipeline"? you ask? What about the "loud voices" of African American males, as school trustee Shadd asked at a previous school board meeting? What about Trustee Elkins-Johnson's question and comment last night about understanding African-American boys.

Here's my take. Like it or not. All students (black, white, brown, red, yellow, etc.) should be expected to be polite and respectful. For some, they are going to have to learn this at school. If they carry weapons or threaten to kill other students or teachers, then they are going to get sucked into the school-to-prison pipeline. They should learn that in first grade.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Soon, two fewer guns at Richland 2

At tonight's board meeting, parents addressed the board on Board Policy GBEB Staff Conduct and its provision that has allowed two Richland 2 employees to carry their firearms concealed on school grounds. As a result of comments by parents and community members, and an anonymous letter to Dr. Elkins-Johnson, there is now a strong possibility that those guns will vanish from Richland 2 grounds.

After comments during the Public Participation segment (see the video on YouTube as soon as it is published (probably October 17)) and the board's discussion. It was vigorous, and almost everyone participated.

I'll say again, thank goodness for the YouTube recording. Tonight it was very difficult to hear the remarks of Dr. Elkins-Johnson, Mr. Shadd, Mrs. McKie, even Supt. Davis. Usually he leans forward and speaks directly in his microphone. The two staffers at the podium could not be heard throughout the room, either.

Dr. Elkins made a motion to remove parenthetical wording in GBEB about possessing weapons on district property. The Administration had proposed changing the bullet point identifying one item of misconduct from "possessing weapons on district property (unless otherwise authorized by law) to "possessing weapons on district property (unless otherwise authorized by law and the superintendent)".

At the September 24th school board meeting I spoke during the Public Participation segment and told the board that there had been a man in the board meeting carrying a concealed firearm before the start of the meeting. It was my opinion that none on the board was aware that any employee of the District was armed. I suggested that it should be the Board that authorizes such possession of weapons, not the superintendent.

Speakers tonight were not required to give their names. A woman read a long statement regarding the revision to Policy GBEB. For her full statement, view the YouTube recording. She enumerated conditions that she would find acceptable to authorization for designated employees to carry, which included being certified as law enforcement officers, training, mental-health evaluation annually.

After she left the meeting, I stepped out to speak with her, and I invited her to send me her statement for publication here and said I would be happy to publish it verbatim. Te hear her full statement, go to the YouTube recording. Fast-forward to 29:53 on the timer.

At tonight's meeting the Board discussion about Policy GBEB Staff Conduct begins at 55:04 on the YouTube recording. Dr. Elkins said she had first learned of employees' carrying guns through an anonymous letter. Dr. Elkins made a motion to delete "(unless otherwise authorized by law and the superintendent)" from the Policy. After a vigorous discussion, the motion passed 5-1-1. Amelia McKie voted against the motion. Dr. Caution-Parker abstained. The vote tonight was only on the motion, not on the revision itself.

At the October 29 board meeting Policy GBEB will come up for a vote. Parents should keep the pressure on the board by email, telephone and personal visits.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Still worried about cell phone towers near schools?

Oh, it's "old news" now and so easily forgotten.

Remember the parents who showed up to complain about cell phone towers on the grounds of Richland 2 school? Where are they now? Well, not at school board meetings.

Has construction started near Kelly Mill Middle School?

Check out this November 13, 2018 article from New Zealand.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Guns in Richland 2 Schools?

At the next school board meeting, on Tuesday, October 15, 2019, the Richland 2 School Board will again take up the issue of guns on school grounds.

Teachers and parents, how do you feel about this?

At least two Richland 2 employees have been authorized to carry concealed firearms on school grounds. They are not law-enforcement officers; they are not uniformed. Their employment is not for the purpose of direct security. Uniformed Security personnel of the District are unarmed.

I have sent the following email to board members and the press.

Please show up Tuesday evening for 6:30PM open session. Register before you enter the meeting room and plan to address the Board.

Members of the Board and Trustees-Elect McKie and Holmes,

There was vigorous discussion at the September 24, 2019 board meeting about Policy GBEB and authority requested by the superintendent for him to approve carrying of concealed, loaded firearms on school grounds. Several of you expressed concerns that agreed with my suggestion during public participation that the authority should rest with the Board, not with the superintendent.

As Supt. Davis said at that meeting, he was happy to pass the responsibility on to you.

The Policy revision in the Agenda for the 10/15/19 board meeting has not been changed. The authority would still rest with the superintendent, as proposed by the Administration.

The financial risk to Richland School District 2 is immense, should an employee utilize his firearm, even if later found to be a justified use-of-force. Please consider the liability for injury or death of a student, teacher, staff member, vendor or visitor. There needs to be a complete Board Policy addressing such possession and carrying of a firearm on school grounds.

I request that the Board claim the responsibility for approval.

Further, I request that Richland 2 rescind approvals that are in effect now for certain employees to carry, until the Board can thoroughly consider and approve a good policy.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

WANTED: Attorney

Can someone in the community recommend an attorney for a legal action against the Richland School District Two that involves getting Leave from a Circuit Judge to file writs of quo warranto in the South Carolina Supreme Count?

SECTION 15-63-60. Action against usurpers, for forfeiture of office or against persons acting as corporation.

An action may be brought by the Attorney General in the name of the State upon his own information or upon the complaint of any private party or by a private party interested on leave granted by a circuit judge against the parties offending in the following cases:

(1) When any person shall usurp, intrude into, or unlawfully hold or exercise any public office, civil or military, or any franchise within this State or any office in a corporation, created by the authority of this State;

The Office of the South Carolina Attorney General took a very close look at my complaint and opted not to pursue it. The Richland County Sheriff and SLED were very helpful.

An outside option was that they have "prosecutorial discretion" and that may have been the reason for declining to prosecute. I'll certainly agree that putting away murderers, robbers and crooked state politicians ranks higher in any office that might have limited resources.

But having two people on the school board illegally is important.

Why won't the School Board just administer the oath of office to McKie and Holmes. After all, they did file their Statement of Economic Interests Reports on December 4, 2018. They are eligible now to take the oath of office legally.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Board says "No" to Access to Attorney

Since February 2019 I have asserted that Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes are not legitimate members of the Richland 2 School Board.

During the summer I requested a meeting with the Board Chair and the attorney for the School District:

At the end of August I received this reply on behalf of the School Board:

"We have sought counsel from several entities, including our legal counsel, that have all assured us that our board members are legal members of the board based on current State Law, interpretation of that law, and all matters related to State Ethics. While I understand your desire to hear more from our counsel on this directly, it is not appropriate for me to have legal counsel engage with you as a member of the public on this matter."

My concern hinges on these facts:

1. Both took an oath of office illegally and before they were eligible to do so.
2. Neither McKie nor Holmes has ever taken the oath of office legally.

McKie's 2014-2018 term of office ended on November 6, 2018. She was re-elected on November 6, 2018 for the term 2018-2022. She took the oath of office illegally on November 13, 2018. She attended and participated in the November 13, 2018 school board meeting. However, the 2018-2022 term legally began one week after her election was certified. Her election was certified on November 9, 2018, and the term of office began on November 16, 2018, three days after that board meeting.

While she was "qualified" to become a trustee for the school board term on 2018-2022, she was not eligible to be sworn in, because she had not filed a Statement of Economic Interests Report with the South Carolina Ethics Commission.

By the November election date McKie was subject to an Order and Decision by the S.C. Ethics Commission for numerous violations of ethics laws. She now owes $51,750, and a Judgment was filed in Richland County Common Pleas Court on July 10, 2019. The S.C. Department of Revenue should begin collection efforts soon, which may include wage garnishment, attachment of assets, seizure of bank accounts and other steps to collect the $51,750.

The problem is the same for Holmes, because she violated the law on November 13, 2018 and has never legally taken the oath of office. And now she is serving as Board Vice Chairman, an office to which she is not entitled.

Because McKie has never legally taken the oath of office (on or after December 4, 2018), I assert she is not a legal board member and also that she could not continue after November 6, 2018 as Board Chair (which the Board allowed her to do to the end of that term of office on June 30, 2019).

The "counsel" that the Board received from "several entities" appears to be faulty. Even the counsel from the District's own attorney appears to be in error. The logical question is who were the "several entities".

The State law (S.C. Code of Laws 8-13-1110(A) is absolutely clear. McKie and Holmes violated it. The Ethics Commission fined Holmes $100.00 because she filed her SEI late. But the Ethics Commission addresses only civil matters, not criminal matters. The Ethics Commission doesn't prosecute criminal matters.

State criminal laws were violated. Ethics laws were violated. The advice to the School Board must hinge on "interpretation" of state law.

I have never been shy about disagreeing with legal opinions that appear to be wrong. In Colorado I questioned an attorney whose advice was about to cause a mutual client $75,000 in unnecessary Federal Income Tax. The lawyer told me he had the best tax attorney in Colorado on his staff, and I told him he'd better go to Wyoming (90 miles north) for a second opinion. When I told him that I would urge our mutual client to get his legal advice about the specific section of the IRS Code on his letterhead (thereby establishing proof of his advice), his response was, "Let me call you back in a couple of hours."

He called back ten minutes later and told me the client would not be making the change (that would have resulted in the client's $75,000 tax expense)!

In March 2019 I suggested the simple, cost-free remedy to the School Board. Just administer the oath of office - legally - to McKie and Holmes. It didn't, and it hasn't done so. The longer the Board waits, the more it will cost them to go all the way back of November 13, 2018 and correct all the decisions that include votes by McKie and Holmes. Some important decisions will change. Many decisions on student transfers and expulsions will change.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Oct. 1 2019 Special Board Meeting - Unofficial?

On October 1, 2019 the Richland 2 School Board held a Special-Called Board Meeting. The video recording of the meeting has been posted on YouTube on the Richland 2 channel.

The first thing  I noticed was the two empty chairs. Although no roll call was taken (as it never is at board meetings), Mr. Manning noted that Teresa Holmes and Monica Elkins-Johnson were absent. This left five present, plus the superintendent.

That number presented a dilemma for the Board. A quorum for a meeting is five board members. Two trustees-elect (McKie and Holmes) have never legally taken the oath of office. In the opinion of some, including this writer, they are not legal board members. Thus, with McKie not being a legal board member, there were only four legal board members present - one short of a quorum, and no business should have been conducted.

The vote of five (including McKie) on the motion to approve the agenda for the meeting was wrong. There should not have been a vote, because there was no quorum, and an accurate vote should have been 4-0.

The purpose of the meeting was to review and discuss 28 Board Policies and suggested revisions, with no vote to be taken. You can see the list of Policies in the Agenda for the meeting.

The meeting was only 36 minutes long, and the first order of business can be viewed on YouTube at 1:13 on the video timer.

The silliness of some of these revisions can be seen in the first item, Board Policy IHCF Childcare Programs" on the Agenda. Somebody at Richland 2 is getting the big bucks to revise "ages 5-14" to "ages five through fourteen" and strike the word "years". Grab your wallets, Taxpayers!

In the discussion for Policy IIA Grouping for Discussion, Trustee Shadd motioned for addition of "sexual orientation and, gender identity status" to the listed protected classes of "race, religion, sex, or socioeconomic status."  McKie seconded. Motion passed 5-0.

Mrs. Agostini clearly reads and studies the massive number of revisions being foisted on the Board. She asked an important question in Policy IJ, where the wording refers to "invasive physical exam". Is she the only Trustee who reads every word in these proposed revisions? It seems the Administration just wants to swallow any recommendation of the South Carolina School Boards Association (SCSBA), and Mrs. Agostini and the absent Dr. Elkins-Johnson are on the only Trustees who challenge the concept of just rolling over and accepting SCSBA recommendations.

At 12:27 Trustee Shadd's phone rang. He grabbed it and began reading a message. Mrs. McKie leaned over toward him. WAS HE RECEIVING A MESSAGE ABOUT THE TOPIC UNDER DISCUSSION DURING THIS OPEN, PUBLIC MEETING??? Isn't there a Board Policy about use of electronics during meetings? How can the public know what message he is receiving? It's a Public meeting. He should have been called on to read aloud the message on his phone.

Amelia McKie pre-empted Board Chair Manning's role of thanking the staff for their work (34:40). There was no reason for her to do so. She is no longer the Board Chair; some will assert that, since November 6, 2018, she has not even been a legal member of the board or board chair from November 6, 2018 to June 30, 2019. McKie said she wanted to appreciate the staff for the time they are taking to go to the policies.

NOTE TO ALL: Staff is being paid quite well to do their jobs, which include policy revisions as directed by the superintendent. McKie has no need to thank them for doing their jobs. The superintendent will take care of that!

Friday, October 4, 2019

Stressed Out?

Are you stressed out?

Worried about your kids? Schools? School safety? Gun Violence? Guns? The foolishness in Washington, D.C.? Or right here at the State Capitol in Columbia, S.C.? Work? Money? Life?

Take William James' (1842-1910) advice:

"The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another."


Bullet Found on Bus; decapitation threatened - Lex. 1

The State newspaper is reporting that a bullet was found on a school bus in the Lexington 1 School District. Also, that a 12-year-old student assaulted a teacher and a 16-year-old student threatened a teacher.

According to the newspaper article, after the 12-year-old threatened the teacher and said he'd chop off her head with a machete,  "(t)he student was disciplined by school administrators..."


Why is this important to Richland 2 parents, students, teachers, administrators and community members?

Because thse incidents need to be addressed as criminal matters, not just as school discipline. To what extent is Lexington 1 doing that?

The social justice warriors (SJW) want too many incidents to be classified as school discipline problems, rather than addressed as crimes. Sure, it's important to reduce the "school-to-prison pipeline", as many want to call it. Want to stop that pipeline? Well, kids, stop doing the crimes! It's really that simple.

If more parents said, "If you do the crime, you'll suffer the consequences" and stopped bailing their kids out or instantly asserting their innocence, perhaps the number of crimes at school would drop.

There was a time when kids feared more what was going to happen to them if their parents found out a problem at school. That time seems to be far in the past. Now it's somebody else's fault - the teacher's, the principal's, the cop's, the court's, the system's, the (fill-in-the-blank)'s fault.

Soon I'll start posting here how Richland 2 handles minor and major incidents on school grounds.

In the meantime start reading Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies That Created The Parkland Shooter and Endanger America's Students

I own both the e-book and the hardcover editions. The footnotes are a whole story in themselves, and the links in the footnotes in the e-book help you go quickly to the source.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Weapon at Richland Northeast H.S.

The State newspaper is reporting today that two students at Richland Northeast High School were arrested yesterday for firearms violations. The students, ages 14 and 15, were not identified by The State, because they are minors.

THIS IS WRONG. Those punks should be identified, so that other students, parents, teachers, administrators and community members can know who they are.

Richland Northeast High School is located at 7500 Brookfield Road (29223). That's east of Decker Blvd. and near the high-crime area of after-hours bars where the Sheriff's Department has investigated many "shots fired" calls.

The school's SRO was involved, although the article does not provide detail.

What kind of rocket scientist do you have to be to take a stolen pistol to school with you? One kid was allegedly carrying the pistol, and the other was allegedly carrying the magazine for it.

What will be interesting to learn is the criminal background of those two. Also, how many times they have been disciplined and for what circumstances. Are they products of Richland 2's Code of Conduct that seems to be somewhat like the PROMISE program of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida? Were they treated with kid gloves to help them avoid the school-to-prison pipeline?

Now would be a good time for all parents to read Board Policy AR-JICDA-R, which is found as a sub-section under Board Policy JICDA. An analysis of that Policy will be published on this blog in the near future.

The Board should be expelling these two students for violating Level III - Criminal Conduct. The names of the students will not appear in the Board Meeting's Agenda or in the Minutes, but the action will be taken.

Show up at School Board meetings and insist on an analysis of the disciplinary records of those two kids and what treatment, if any, they received earlier that might have revealed their propensity for this serious school crime sooner.

Newest math - coming to a school near you soon?

There is arithmetic, and then there is math. And then we learned it's not spelled "mathamatics" but mathematics. And then there was New Math, which I still haven't figured out.

Now there is Math Ethnic Studies. If you are a K-12 student in Seattle, Wash. and are having trouble adding 1+1, your worries are over.

As part of the headline in an article on The Daily Wire yesterday reads, "Who Gets To Say If An Answer is Right?"

All too often, some craziness that starts on the West Coast works its way east.

Do parents really have any idea what goes into approving a course of study or class content? Some parents do; there was something in the news a week ago, after a parent took notice of a child's homework.

Read "Seattle Public Schools Teaching 'Math Ethnic Studies' " here.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Active Shooter Drills - any value?

Read this article from the September 7, 2019 Forbes magazine: "Why Schools Should End Active Shooter Drills Immediately".

Do you know what the risk is of a student's dying at school in a shooting? 1:614,000,000. 

Can you even re-calculate that to a percentage? My computer's calculator tells me that it's the same as 1.628664495114007e-9. I've been out of school too long. That was never taught, when I was in school. Let me try: 1/614,000,000 = 0.00000000012866..... So, is that 0.00000012866%? Is there a math teacher in the house? What does "e-9" mean?

The number is so small I'm not going to worry about it. Are you?

Start asking questions at the next school board meeting. Do you know what the safety plan is? Does your child? Do your children know? If there is a real active-shooter event, does your family have a plan for reuniting?

How many families have fire drills at home? Or even have a fire extinguish? Or have any idea at all what to do if there is a grease fire in the kitchen? Or the microwave blows up? Who has a fire extinguisher in his car? Knows where it is? Knows how to use it? There are even families who don't buckle up before the car starts moving.

Too-frequent active-shooter drills create unnecessary trauma for students, teachers and staff.

Why Meadow Died - did you read it yet?

This is a book about Meadow Pollack, who was murdered at Margaret Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018. It's about a system that failed Meadow, 16 others who died, others who were injured and those who were traumatized by the shooting. It's also about how the system failed the shooter.

I began reading the e-book on the day it was released in September. I quickly ordered a hardcover edition, and today it was delivered.

This is a book that EVERY parent, teacher, administrator and school board member should own and read

As I read it, I wondered, "Could this happen right here and right now in Richland 2 schools?"

Well, could it? Read about U.S. Department of Education's former Supt. Arne Duncan's Dear Colleague Letter. Read about the PROMISE program and how it was to reduce the school-to-prison pipeline. Read how MSD's superintendent was connected to Duncan.

Did Richland 2 receive one of Duncan's Dear Colleague Letters? Did Richland 2 implement a PROMISE program?

Then start digging into the policies in the Richland 2 School District (and your own home school district, if you live elsewhere). Read Richland 2's Board Policy AR-JICDA-R Code of Conduct. 

To find this, go to the District's website; then
click on EXPLORE; then
click on School Board; then
click on BOARD POLICIES; then
click on J STUDENTS; then
scroll down to Policy JICDA Code of Conduct; click on it, then
click on AR-JICDA-R Code of Conduct

Print this. Read it carefully. Keep it near you, while you read Why Meadow Died.

Watch for another article here soon, when I'll dissect Board Policy AR-JICDA-R and explain why this could just result in the next "Parkland" shooting, but right here.

Are you reading Why Meadow Died? Please comment below.