Friday, November 22, 2019

R2 Board still short two legal Trustees

It was almost a year ago that The Independent Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County reported that Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes had not filed their required Statements of Economic Interests Reports ("Statements") with the South Carolina Ethics Commission.

The first article in The Voice was on December 6, 2018. Reporter Michael Smith had done his homework, and his long article carefully detailed the problem.

It turned out that McKie had not filed Statements with the S.C. Ethics Commissions that were required for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. By December 2018 she was subject to a Decision and Order by the Ethics Commission and was ordered to pay substantial fines and fees for those violations.

McKie was first elected to the Richland 2 School Board in November 2014. In June 2018 she was elected Board Chair for the term July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019. On November 6, 2018 she was re-elected to the School Board. When the election was certified on November 9, 2018 she became "qualified" as a Trustee. But she was not yet "eligible" to be a Trustee.

Holmes was elected on November 6, 2018 to her present four-year term on the School Board.

As a result of their failures to file the Statements, both violated S.C. Code of Laws Section 8-13-1110(A) when they took the oath of office on November 13, 2018.

This law reads, in part, "No public official, regardless of compensation, and no public member or public employee as designated in subsection (B) may take the oath of office or enter upon his official responsibilities unless he has filed a statement of economic interests in accordance with the provisions of this chapter with the appropriate supervisory office."

As of November 13, 2018 they had not filed their Statements. On November 13 they took the oath of office and attended that night's School Board meeting as officials. Therefore, they violated §8-13-1110(A). Thus, they did not lawfully take the oath of office. Thus, they are not legal board members.

On December 4, 2018 they filed their Statements. Thus, on December 4 they first became eligible to take the oath of office. They have not taken the oath of office.legally.

Yet they are allowed to continue to act as if they are Board Trustees. Therefore, they are usurping public office, violating S.C. Code of Laws Section 15-53-60. And the School District is paying them while they do so.

An additional problem for McKie is that she claimed, and was allowed by the Board to claim, her role as Board Chair after November 6, 2018 and until June 30, 2019. Since she was not a legal Board member, she could not legally hold the position as Board Chair. Her signature as Board Chair on bond documents is not legal.

The five legal members of the Board could refuse to allow McKie and Holmes to sit at the board until they legally take the oath of office. McKie and Holmes are, legally, no more a Board member than I am.

By refusing to act, has the full board become complicit in deceiving taxpayers and voters as to its legal composition?

Richland 2 School District has my request to be informed of the date, time and location for any ceremony to administer the oath of office, legally, to McKie and Holmes.

The South Carolina Ethics Commission filed a Judgment for $51,750 against McKie on July 10, 2019. Case No. 2019CP4003809 is languishing in the online court records, with no update since it was filed four months ago. The S.C. Department of Revenue should be the agency that collects on the Judgment by all legal means possible, including attachment of assets, home, bank accounts, automobiles and garnishment of wages (Richland 2 pays W-2 income to McKie as a school board trustee).

Utah school arms teachers

In Utah County, Utah folks are serious about protecting their children in schools.

Read/watch this NBC report on arming of teachers.

When the Richland 2 School Board went the other way, when it revised Board Policy GBEB, was it a short-sighted, ill-conceived move? Not only did the R2 Board take away the authority of two Emergency Services Department employees to carry firearms on school grounds, it also removed the language ("unless otherwise authorized by law") from that Policy.

Although the Board voted on October 29, 2019 to revise Policy GBEB, the revised policy has yet to be published on the District's website.

Richland 2 took a step backwards in the defense and protection of students and staff, when it made its October 29th decision. The policy, as the revised version reads, now makes possession of weapons on school grounds an act of Misconduct by a teacher or staff member. Is there anyone who thinks that will not be a reason for termination of employment?

A teacher or staff member cannot now commute to/from work with his personal-protection weapon in his car and then park that car on school grounds. A teacher cannot leave her pepper spray in her car. Better leave that baseball bat at home. Keep in mind that weapon will now be defined as any item that could be used as a weapon.

If the student policy (JICI) definition of weapon is really to apply to the employee policy GBEB, and then extended beyond employee to contracted workers, could SROs be in violation of GBEB. How would Richland 2 disciplinary action be taken against them?

What Richland 2 needs is a well-thought-out policy to protect students, teachers, staff and visitors.

Understanding that at least five of the Richland 2 School Board Trustees are anti-gun, how are they going to make a decision that allows their charges to protect themselves (and those for whom they are responsible) from an armed attacker?

They might hate guns, but how will they answer this one question?

If a school is in lock-down and a teacher is barricaded in her classroom with 20 students, and a madman with a gun is breaking down the door to enter and harm those students and her, isn't that teacher going to hope she has a gun to defend her students and herself?

If your answer is "No", please explain in the comment section below.