Thursday, March 14, 2019

Ms. Holmes' Defense (attempt)

It seems I got under the skin of Teresa Holmes at the March 12, 2019 Richland 2 School Board meeting.

A general rule, as usually explained by the Chair prior to the Public Participation segment of Board meetings, is that the Board will not respond to or address comments from members of the public. On other evenings it has been explained that "someone" (staff) may get back to a member of the public who addresses the Board.

On March 12, 2019 I asserted that two people on the Board are not legally members of the Board. I base this on State law, Section 8-13-1110(A).

At the close of the March 12th meeting there was an Item (16) for Board and Superintendent Comments.

Ms. Holmes used her time to state that she did not know of any requirement to file a Statement of Economic Interests (SEI) with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. She learned of it after being contacted by The Voice of Blythewood and Fairfield County. She did file her SEI on December 4, 2018.

She defended herself against "things that are done for personal reasons or when things are done to be sensationalized." Now, whom could she possibly mean? What "personal reasons" could there be? Who could benefit from "sensationalism"?

She says she is in good standing with the State Department (meaning the Ethics Commission). She is, but this is a deflection.

She is not a legally-constituted member of the Board.

But she refused to acknowledge, in a short conversation after the March 12, 2019 meeting that there is importance to the wording in the state law. The law says she cannot take the oath of office or begin duties (on the school board) unless she has filed a SEI.

She took the oath of office before she filed the SEI.
She began her duties before she filed the SEI.
She has been paid as a Board member, even though she is not legally a member.

By the way, this is also true for Mrs. McKie. A huge problem for the Board is that it has allowed Mrs. McKie to chair Board meetings, even though she is not legally a Board member.

I have emailed Supt. Davis and the school board that I wish to be informed of the date, time and location when Ms. Holmes and Mrs. McKie will be legally sworn in.

Ms. Holmes proudly stated that she has already filed her 2019 SEI. The problem with this? How will she account for any conflicts of interest or reporting of required disclosures between now and December 31, 2019? She gets no points (from me) for filing prior ot the March 30, 2020 deadline. Her statement was a waste of breath and contained no value.

Longleaf Middle School praised

At the March 12, 2019 Richland 2 School Board meeting Principal Robert Jackson and Longleaf Middle School (Columbia, S.C.) made a presentation, and students were recognized for their achievements. Two students addressed the Board.

In his closing remarks, Principal Jackson referred to the late Coach John Wooden and quoted these words, "Don't let what you can't do, keep you from doing what you can do."

These are words to live by!

By coincidence, on Wednesday, March 13, I received an email from a high school classmate with a recorded presentation on TED by Coach Wooden. It was only after I watched the video-recording of the Board meeting that Coach Wooden's name jumped out at me. Not having participated in sports in high school or followed sports afterwards, I was not familiar with Coach Wooden (1910-2010 (Age 99)).

Take 15 minutes and watch this presentation, titled "The Difference Between Winning and Succeeding.". It's one that every teacher and many students should hear. This TED presentation was published on YouTube on March 26, 2009, about 14 months before his death at age 99. Be sure to reach some of the comments, too.

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Board Meeting Index - 3/12/2019

The video-recording of the March 12, 2019 Richland 2 School Board meeting can now be viewed on YouTube. Go to and search for "Richland 2". Click on "Richland 2 Board of Trustees Meeting". Click on the meeting date. The length of the public portion of the meeting is shown.

There was a one-hour Executive Session prior to the public meeting.The Executive Session is closed to the public. During the public meeting the Board will vote on items discussed during the Executive Session.

March 12, 2019 Meeting

The beginning of the meeting was at about 5:30PM, and the Board immediately voted to enter the Executive Session. The video is stopped. The video resumes after the Executive Session.

01:17 (one minute, 17 seconds) The Regular (public) Session resumes. Item 3.1 Inspiration Moment/Pledge of Allegiance
02:00 Inspiration Moment. Mother of Spring Valley HS freshman
07:58 Pledge of Allegiance
08.38 Item 4.1 Approval of Agenda
09:37 Item 5.1 Special Recognition
20:48 Item 6. Consent Agenda
22:22 Item 7. School Focus. Longleaf Middle School. Principal Robert Jackson concluded with a quote from the late Coach John Wooden (1910-2010 (Age 99)). "Don't let what you can't do, keep you from doing what you can do." Principal Jackson's remarks are worth listening to!
29:51 Item 8. Public Participation
   Gus Philpott on School Board validity (30:29-33:34)
   Chris Haas (R2 teacher) on S.C. educational legislation (33:48-36:52)
   Lisa Ellis on educational bills (37:07- 40:16)
40:30 Item 9.1 Legislative Update (Board Member Shadd)
42:12 Item 10. Voting on Executive Session Items,
48:15 Item 11. Old Business
50:00 Item 12. New Business
1:03:58 Item 13, Agenda Items for Next Meeting
Item 14. Approval of Agenda Items for Next Meeting
1:07:42 Item 15. Public Participation 2
1:08:00 Item 16. Board and Superintendent Comments
1:09:55 Ms. Teresa Holmes' defensive comments about her "membership" on the Board.
1:11:51 Concluding statements by Supt. Davis. Upcoming events; see R2 website.
1:16:31 Concluding statements by Mrs. McKie.
Item 17. Executive Session 2. (Not needed.)
Item 18. Voting on Executive Session 2 Items. (Not needed.)
1:19:17 Item 19. Adjournment

Coming soon - Board Meeting Index

How many parents, teachers, staff or community members in Richland 2 have watched a video of a Richland 2 School Board meeting on YouTube?

When you look at the still shot of the board meeting and the time for the video (let's say, 3:36:00), how eager are you to put everything else on the shelf, grab your notepad and pen, and sit down for a 3½-hour meeting?

If you have watched a portion or any or all of them, you may have noticed this wording: "Comments are disabled for this video."

Frankly, it's a shame that the Board prevents viewers from commenting!

So, you can look forward to being able to comment on the meeting video right here. I expect to create a page for each meeting, once the video has been posted (the March 12, 2019 meeting can now be viewed on YouTube). The page will contain an index for the meeting. If you want to view only a certain portion of the meeting video, you can fast-forward (drag the timer bar). The index will follow the Agenda for the meeting.

To view the Agenda, go to  Click on EXPLORE, then click on "School Board", then click on the meeting date, then click on "View the Agenda".

To view the agenda for the next meeting, visit that site 48 hours before the meeting.

D.S.T. and Students

How are students doing with the change in time to Daylight Savings Time (D.S.T.)?

How do teachers prepare for that first Monday after the time-change? This year it was last Sunday, March 10. Presumably, everyone arose an hour "earlier". How does that work out for high schoolers, middle schoolers and, especially, elementary school students?

Does it make those first few teaching days harder, when kids are still half-asleep?

And how about the teachers themselves and the bus drivers? Is everyone awake and cheery first thing in the morning?

I remember a school year, when I lived in Illinois (1996-2014), and the local school district announced that the following year's classes would begin earlier in the day.

One wise mother wrote a Letter to the Editor of the county's daily newspaper. She wrote that she agreed that children learn better earlier in the day, "but they have to be awake first."

This year one former teacher emailed me that her sister and she had been late for a luncheon on Sunday. When did you change your clocks? Saturday night or Sunday morning?

How is it going in your family? (Please comment below.)

How much security needed at school board meetings?

After the February 12, 2019 Richland 2 School Board meeting I questioned the number of deputies present from the Richland County Sheriff's Department (Columbia. S.C.). I had noticed about six uniformed officers but, when I inquired of one of them, I learned that only three were deputies and the others were Richland 2 security officers.

In January there had been an alternation of sorts involving one Board member and three non-Board members - (Mr.) Stacy McKie (husband of Board Chair Amelia McKie), Sen. Mia McLeod and her sister. I can't wait to learn how this case turns out. I watched the video of the lobby at R2i2, and it surely looked to me like somebody got right in Dr. Elkins-Johnson's face and provoked her. Where I come from, you can't pick a fight and then cry "Victim".

An issue of ethics was a hot topic at the meeting, and it appeared that there were many in the audience who had been invited to support the person under fire.

The aggressive presence of additional security in the form of sheriff's deputies was due to safety concerns. It is unknown at this writing who requested the increased security. Did they Board vote on the decision to order security and the expense?

At the March 12, 2019 school board meeting I again noticed the high level of security. When I arrived, I made it a point to thank a couple of the deputies for being there to protect "us" from the (whole) Board. I meant it, of course, as a joke. What reason should I have to fear the power of the School Board?

After the meeting I again questioned the additional security, and I learned that the School Board has hired (HIRED!) the three deputies to be there "just in case". I protested that but, of course, I needed to be protesting it to the Board, which had hired the deputies and was paying for them.

Now this is not downtown Columbia. There is no need whatsoever to have hired deputies on the premises of a school board meeting. If a problem arises, dial 9-1-1.

I wonder what the cost of this added security is. I'm going to take a wild guess that the deputies are there on an over-time basis at a possible hourly rate of $60.00. Three deputies ($180.00) for four hours would cost Richland 2 School District $720.00 for each board meeting. There is an easy way to learn the cost. All I would have to do is file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with Richland 2.

Two board meetings per month. $1,460/month - wasted! How long will this go on?

URL vs. easy blog address

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