Monday, November 18, 2019

Becoming a Premier Board

How can the Richland 2 School Board become the "premier" board that the superintendent and some of the members talk about from time to time?

Some that come to my mind are:

* Require that Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes take the oath of office, now that they are eligible to do so, and become legitimate members of the school board. The Board has operated with only five legal members since November 6, 2018.

* Control the duration of semi-monthly meetings better, so that they do not exceed 90 minutes. Set time limits for the Moment of Inspiration, Recognition, for school focus and for staff presentations.

* Educate board members to speak clearly, loudly enough, and with purpose to their remarks. Eliminate slow, rambling remarks.

* Coach board members to eliminate grand-standing. Students in elementary school might be called "children"; middle and high schools have "students".

* Coach board members to cease usurping the authority of the Chair with lengthy expressions of appreciation to staff and others. Brief thanks to specific personnel are fine, but it's not necessary to name everyone in the room. The Board Chair should be the one to express appreciation to teachers and staff as a group, unless he designates it. Most staff members attending are required or expected to be there as part of their jobs, and their pay includes their attendance.

* The audience or staff doesn't need to be blessed for attending. Save that for church or personal conversation.

* Board members should speak only for themselves when expressing positions or opinions. For one to say that she speaks for all Board members is a statement easily suspected as not true. By keeping remarks brief and specific, there will be less chance for embarrassing mistakes.

Do you have suggestionsfor the Board? Post them in comments and email them to the Board Chair, James Manning, at

Change in GBEB increases risk to students, staff

When the School Board tinkered with Board Policy GBEB for three meetings and finally settled the matter (temporarily, let's hope) on October 29, 2019, it unwittingly increased risks for students and employees.

How did that happen?

In October Trustee Elkins-Johnson had said that she received an anonymous letter that informed her of two Richland 2 employees who were carrying firearms at work.

On September 24 I had addressed the Board after spotting a man in civilian clothing in the board room who was carrying a concealed semi-automatic pistol in a holster under his sweatshirt. It turned out he was the Assistant Manager of the Emergency Services Department of Richland Two.

The Superintendent knew he was armed, because he was authorized to carry. But apparently not one Board member knew it.

Instead of taking ownership of the decision to authorize the two Emergency Services Department employees to carry, the Board now forbids any employee to carry.

What never was spoken of was the protection provided to students and staff by these two employees, should they interrupt an incident when someone was threatening harm to someone else on school grounds. As civilians, the two employees are not Security and they are not the police. They could lawfully use their firearms only in self-defense or to defend another person.

Several members of the board, including the two trustees-elect who have never become legal members of the board, almost go into shock at the mention of "firearm" or "gun". I suspect that none of them has ever had a gun pointed at them or has had to defend someone else.

I have two questions for each board member:

1. If you were a teacher and were barricaded in your classroom with 20 students and some madman with a gun was trying to break down your classroom door, wouldn't you wish you had a gun and knew how to use it?

2. If you are a parent, if a madman with a gun is trying to break into your child's classroom, won't you wish your teacher has a gun and knows how to use it?

Recommended reading:
Why Meadow Died, by Andrew Pollack
From Luby's to the Legislature, by Suzanna Gratia Hupp (don't miss the last 3-4 pages)