Tuesday, February 25, 2020

McKie Still Owes $51,750

Why does Amelia McKie still owe $51,750 to the South Carolina Ethics Commission?

Decision & Order No. C-2017-023 was announced on July 3, 2018 by the S.C. Ethics Commission in resolution to a complaint filed by the Commission itself on September 1, 2016 against McKie on numerous grounds. The Decision & Order specified a fine and terms of payment.

When no payment was made by December 31, 2018, a penalty was added and the total amount owed by her reached $51,750.

When no payment was made by her by June 30, 2019, the Commission filed for a Judgment in Richland County Common Pleas Court. Court Case No. 2019CP4003809. You can see the court record here

What happens next?

The South Carolina Department of Revenue (DOR) is the collection arm for debts owed to the State. The DOR will rake off 22% as its collection fee under its Setoff or GEAR collection procedures. 

Is this a big deal? Is there any reason that it shouldn't be a big deal?

McKie, who claims to be a legitimate member of the Richland 2 School Board, should have stepped down a long time ago. Instead, she shows up and - worst - is allowed to sit at the Board, even though there is a remaining question about whether it is actually a legal member of the Board. She did not follow state law after being re-elected on November 6, 2018.

State law says you must (first) file your Statement of Economic Interests Report (SEI) with the S.C. Ethics Commission and then take the oath of office. Instead, she did it her way; she took the oath of office and began serving. After the Independent Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County (newspaper) called her on it, she filed her SEI.

Being re-elected meant she was "qualified" to serve, but she was not yet eligible to serve. She became eligible to serve on December 4, 2018, after filing her SEI. But she has never taken the oath of office since December 4, 2018. 

All she has to do is raise her right hand and take the oath of office. Why won't she do this?

Until she does take the oath legally, she is not a legitimate board member. And the School District should not be paying her $900 per month to be a Trustee. 

To me, this looks like an illegal expenditure of public funds by the School District. Does it look this way to you, too? Please comment below.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Any "-gates" at Richland 2?

You've got to read the February 21st article on FitsNews.com about Richland 1 and a letter sent by its superintendent to teachers about the bad press that Richland 1 has been getting.

Titled "What Can We Do About That?" the article digs into a letter emailed to teachers by Richland One superintendent Craig Witherspoon. He is apparently feeling unfairly attacked on these topics:

* No-bid contracts of $500,000 in science programming;
* An advertising budget increase of 5,500% in five years;
* Hiring of Tameika Isaac Devine (Jabber & Devine P.A.) "for 'complex' legal work outside her primary field";
* Jacketgate

It took an investigative effort by FitsNews.com, The State and The Post and Courier to dig out this news.

"Bad press"? Oh, how the truth stings...

But you'll remember who wrote about the sweetheart deal involving Tameika Isaac Devine and Richland Two that sprang into existence in January 2019. Isaac Devine is the wife of Richland One School Board Chairman Jamie L. Devine. She is also a Columbia City Councilwoman. She is with a small law firm (two attorneys; both black) that lists absolutely no relevant (bond) experience on its own website. That tiny law firm benefits from Richland 2, because the Richland 2 School Board gave its own superintendent (Baron Davis) the authority to direct its bond counsel, Burr Forman, to associate co-counsel on the bonds for the purpose of diversity. In other words, pass out some of the dough to Jabber & Isaac.

Richland Two does not need to be paying indirectly to train a small law firm. Presumably, the bond work cost to Richland 2 did not increase. Did Superintendent Davis tell Burr Forman to give some work to Jabber & Isaac and pay them out of their fees?

Burr Forman is a huge regional law firm with specialization in school and public bond work. A female lawyer handles Richland 2 bond work. (That's diversity.) No doubt Burr Forman has many black professional employees. (That's diversity.)

How that permission ever slipped in a January 2019 Bond Resolution and got past the Richland 2 Board is anyone's guess. Well, maybe not. It was at the very end of a long, complex legal document. Reading it probably put a number of Richland Two board members to sleep. By the time they got to the end of the document, if most of them even read it that far, they must have missed the give-away at the end. Just a few bland words gave away the store.

Friday, February 21, 2020

2/11/2020 Minutes M.I.A.

When the agenda for the February 25th board meeting was published today, Item 6.2 lists "Approval of Minutes from Previous Meeting. That would be the February 11, 2020 Regular Meeting.

The problem is that the Minutes are not attached to the agenda. 

This means that the public is in the dark about what happened at the February 11th meeting. Of course, you could wade through the video-recording of the two-hour, two-minute meeting.

It would be simpler to see the Minutes which, no doubt, the Board members will receive. The Minutes report the Motions and the votes.

They also omit the names and topics of the speakers during Public Participation, so that information is lost in written form forever.

Was it an over-sight? Was hitting "Publish" for the agenda at the end of the day rushed because 5 o'clock was looming?

Will the agenda be revised before 5:30PM on Monday, February 24th? If the agenda is revised, will it be notated as Revised?

Gender-choice Education coming to Richland 2?

Earlier today I was wondering to what extent the wave of gender-choice and choice of identity might be headed toward Richland 2. Or is it already here?

Parents in Madison, Wisconsin are on the warpath and are "... asking a state court to halt a public school district’s policy that they say instructs teachers to assist and encourage children in adopting transgender identities without notifying—and possibly while deceiving—parents."

What is the status of gender-identity rules in Richland 2? If a 5-year-old biological male "identifies" as a girl, must the teacher call that child by the girl's preferred name? Does a 17-year-old male who identifies as female get to shower with the girls?

The agenda for the February 25th Regular Meeting of the school board was posted shortly before 5:00PM (the end of the business day and business week).

Item 11.1 on the Agenda is a proposed revision to Board Policy IMB - Teaching About Controversial/Sensitive Issues. Read the proposed revision, because it'll be your last chance to read the old policy with the suggested revisions. After the revisions are approved, only the new, revised policy will exist on the District's website.

New language to be added to Policy IMB is: "A controversial or sensitive issue is a point or matter about which significant opposing viewpoints and/or multiple perspectives exist. Controversial/sensitive issues may be found as a natural part of the curriculum or they may occur in local, national or international situations. These topics may arise across a range of political, social, economic or cultural aspects such as religion, language, customs or values."

You can find it by clicking on the attachment with the Agenda, or you save read it by clicking here.

It looks like all that a Richland 2 teacher ("instructional staff", in "2020-speak") needs to do is get the approval of his/her principal, who might then run to "district personnel" and "appropriate content specialists" for guidance. That phrase "appropriate content specialists" might worry you. Who are they, if they are not "district personnel".

In the entire Board Policy IMB the words parents or guardians do not appear!

Come to Tuesday's board meeting and sign up to ask the board your questions. You must fill out two sheets before the meeting to claim your three minutes of speaking time.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Richland 2 Agendas

There was a time, not too long ago, that the Richland 2 School Board published the agenda for its next meeting on the Thursday afternoon before the Tuesday meeting.

Doing so allowed the public and the media to examine the items on the agenda and time to prepare its inquiries.

Now it seems that the District has decided to just barely meet the legal requirement of 24 hours before the start of the meeting. Since the Executive Session starts at 5:30PM on Tuesday, this requires the District to publish the agenda no later than 5:30PM on the Monday before the meeting.

Occasionally, the District will publish the agenda at the end of the day on Friday. Since District offices are closed on week-ends, one cannot call for information or supporting documents.

The agenda is not to be changed within 24 hours of the start of the meeting. This law is not always followed. Recently, the District added a link for a multi-page, complex Resolution to the agenda just as the open meeting was starting at 6:30PM.

And the agenda is curently being changed during the meeting, when the staff secretary adds information, decisions and votes as they happen during the meeting.

I have raised the question about the legality and appropriateness of adding such informaiton to the agenda during the meeting. Two written inquiries have gone unanswered, plus an oral inquiry.

The right place of information and action taken at a meeting is in the Minutes of the meeting, not in the agenda itself.

So far, there has been no response from the Board to my written inquiry. It's my belief that the District's attorney will advise them to discontinue that practice. But I wonder whether the question has even been posed to the attorney.

The only way for a private individual to challenge the District on legal matters is to go to court.

In Illinois there was an Office of Public Access Counselor (PAC), which was part of the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. When a public body violated a FOIA law or an Open Meetings law or denied a FOIA request, in whole or in part, the member of the public could file a Request for Review with the Public Access Counselor. The PAC could order the public body to comply, but the law didn't have any teeth in it. The PAC could not force the public body to comply. That was up to a court.

I watched an online newspaper publisher take a sheriff's department to the mat over withheld information. It took over a year in court. The publisher won, and his attorney collected about $100,000 in fees.

That doesn't exist in South Carolina, because the People have not demanded that the legislature create it. The legislature is perfectly happy to leave the public defenseless against public bodies (e.g., School Districts, City Councils, County Councils, etc.) unless the member of the public has deep pockets for affording the law suit and all the resulting legal challenges.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Cartoon says it all

This cartoon showed up on my Facebook page today.

The top panel was published somewhere. I can't read the originator's initials; and somebody copied it and added a caption at the bottom of it.

This is exactly what I said to the Richland 2 school board at the end of February 2018, two weeks after the shooting in Parkland, Florida.

I'm pretty sure my words were, "If some madman with a gun is trying to break into a barricaded classroom to kill students, won't you wish that the teacher had a gun?"

I'd like to hear the answer from each board member. Maybe it's time to ask that question again.

RCSD, media, District silent about January sex assaults at RVHS

On January 31 The State newspaper reported that four Ridge View High School students had been arrested in a sex assaults escapade that spanned two days. You can read that story here:
The State's story does not even appear on the first two pages of Google search results.

You can see the WLTX-TV19 story here: https://www.wltx.com/article/news/crime/ridge-view-high-students-sexual-assault/101-916b7be6-d04f-43fd-9062-29cc5a02e500

Other Columbia media reported on this but has nothing new since January 31. To read other reports, search Google for "Ridge View, sex assaults".

Richland 2 School District notified parents and employees that week, but not the media, with a message that read, in part, ""We became aware of an incident that occurred earlier this week that was a violation of our district’s Student Code of Conduct.  ..."

"Incident"? Seriously? Violation of Student Code of Conduct? In my opinion, this is an example of P.C. disclosure by the school district, carefully worded per lawyers' directions with the hope of keeping the District out of a lawsuit. (In the 1990s I was able to watch an executive of a Fortune 50 corporation craft a statement for public release about something of national importance. The drafts were back-and-forth between executives and the lawyers until they were "perfect".)

That "incident" was reported on Richland 2 - Unofficial Blog on January 31 here:

Since then, two 14-year-olds and two 15-year-olds have enjoyed a media black-out.

Nothing has been mentioned at school board meetings. What do the seven trustees on the school board know about it? Anything? Has Administration informed the board? How quickly was the board informed?

In what school years are these "outstanding" representatives of the Richland 2 system? What other trouble have they been in, either in or out of school? What other disciplinary events at school include their names? Has the District begun the process to expel them?

Or will they be coddled and run through Levels I, II and III of the disciplinary process? Will they get a second chance? Will this be diminished to help them avoid the "school-to-prison pipeline"? They should have thought about that before they began the "incident".

Each deserves time at DJJ, if they are guilty. How about treating them as adults and releasing their names? Let parents, students and prospective employers know who they are!

Parents - please start showing up at Richland 2 School Board meetings. Claim your three minutes during Public Participation to demand answers to just how Richland 2 is keeping your child(ren) safe from perverts like those four students.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Note to readers

Please share this blog with parents, teachers, staff, students and community members.

1. You can just ask your friends to visit www.Richland2.info

2. You can use the "Forward to" function on this blog by clicking on any of the Share icons at the bottom of each article. No record of your forwarding an article exists. I'll never see your email address or your message.

2. You can click on the URL for a blogpost and copy it. /Then paste it into an email.

Comments are invited and appreciated. Be responsible Use your own name, especially if you intend to slam someone. If you remain anonymous, I'll still approve polite comments. Posts containing profanity will not be approved.

The word is spreading about this blog.

And please attend Board Meetings and speak up during the Public Participation segments. Read the rules. Sign up to speak. Use your three minutes. Come and see your tax dollars at work. Bring your NoDoz™.

See who is earning her pay as school board member and who is not. You'll want to know this before the next elections in November 2020 and November 2022.

Classroom rack for phones

This is needed in every classroom in Richland 2 schools.

When kids come into class, they would set their phones to Silent and place them on the rail by their name. Everyone gets to see whose phone lights up with calls and messages. And no one gets to answer his phone.

What's the Policy in Richland 2?

Board Policy JICJ covers "electronic communication devices". How many high school students know this rule: "High school students may use ECDs such as cellular phones, electronic pagers or any other communications devices before and after school, during their lunch break, within "free zones" (as determined by the principal) and as deemed appropriate by the teacher and approved by the principal for educational and/or instructional purposes only..."

Notice that keyword "and" between principal) and as deemed?

It seems to me that a high school student must meet both ends of that rule. Should "or" replace that "and"? How does a student know where a "free zone" is. Are signs prominently posted at each high school?

OK, that's the rule. What's the "practice"?

Now does anyone wonder why kinds don't follow rules these days?

Friday, February 14, 2020

Why isn't this discrimination?

The Richland 2 website carries an announcement of "The PREMIER 100" conference to be held on March 28. Clicking on the link on www.Richland2.org takes you off the District's website to a Google site.

What is it? The conference "is an annual conference supporting Richland School District Two's effort to not only recruit, but to retain male educators of color." 

As a matter of fact, this seems to be the First Annual Conference (if you get the joke). Since the program kicked off on November 13, 2019, this is the first conference. It will only be an annual conference, if it is held again.

The superintendent referred to The Premier 100 at the February 11th Board Meeting as "men of color".

I was curious about the application and tried to click through to examine how "color" is asked on the application for the conference. You can't pass into the application without an account.

Is "white" a color? Can a white "male educator of color" attend this conference?

The last Q&A in the FAQs answers that question (sort of): "I am Not a Minority Male Eductaor (sic). Can I still attend?"

A. "ABSOLUTELY! We know that we cannot affect change in our industry alone. We welcome all current and future educators to attend this event."

What on Earth does this mean? "We know that we cannot affect change in our industry alone."

Men of color in Richland 2 (black men) might be a high percentage within the boundaries of Richland 2 School District and even in the total Columbia metropolitan area and in South Carolina. But blacks are 14% (including multi-racial) of the population in the United States. There is a whole wide world out there into which they are going to have to learn to fit.

So much for Equal Employment Opportunity in Richland 2. The superintendent's #1 Initiative is to hire 100 men of color. Why isn't that discrimination?

This district should be hiring the top 100 applicants and be as color-blind as it expects teachers and staff to be.

MSD H.S., Parkland, Fla. - two years later

It was two years ago on Valentines Day, February 14, 2018 that a nut got loose at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and killed 17, and injured more.

Read this interview and listen to the podcast with Max Eden, co-author of Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies That Created The Parkland Shooter and Endanger America's Students. Meadow Pollack was a student at MSD. Her father, Andrew Pollack, and Eden spent a year writing that book, and they nailed it.

To view the book on Amazon and read a sample, click here. I bought the Kindle edition on the day it was released. After reading only a few pages, I ordered the print edition.

The article and podcast are here.

Why am I writing about this again now? Because every parent, every student, and every teacher and school staff person and SRO should read it. And then read it a second time.

Could this happen in Richland 2? You bet it could.

With the crimes (ex., sex assaults at Ridge View H.S., etc.) happening right in our own district, the potential is for some kid to go off the rails and commit the same crazy act that the punk in Parkland, Florida did.

How do you keep it from happening? You learn what allowed it to happen. It's all in this book.

Parents, you had better start showing up at board meetings and getting involved. 

The Richland 2 School District refused my request at the end of February 2018 to survey the teachers, staff, parents and community members on the topic of arming teachers. They wouldn't even ask the community how it felt. And the superintendent refused to apply for a School Safety Shield Grant from the NRA.

That money would have been a no-strings-attached grant; perhaps as much as $10,-15,000, to be used to improve safety for students. I felt the sole reason was that the NRA was the source of the grant. He said he had other sources of funds.

The SRO program, by itself, is not the answer. Buy Why Meadow Died. Read it. Discuss it. Ask questions. Get involved and put a stop to what is happening in Richland 2 now that might produce a Parkland incident right here.

McKie's telephonic attendance on 2/11/2020

Will the Board Secretary, Cheryl Caution-Parker, document in the Minutes of the February 11, 2020 Regular Meeting of the School Board to reflect the absence of Amelia McKie and the authorization of her attendance at that meeting by telephone? Will the Minutes include the reason she did not attend the meeting in person and a copy of McKie's request to the Chair, the Vice-Chair, or the superintendent to attend by telephone?

Board Policy BEDM allows telephonic attendance only in exceptional circumstances, such as "special medical and/or travel situations, military service, or job constraints."

When a Board member is absent, should the Board Chair explain to the other Board members and to the public why that member is absent? Since this is the second meeting in 2020 that she has missed, is this the beginning of a pattern? The only way to determine a pattern is to keep records. Public mention and record in the Minutes would create such a record. Last year McKie was absent related to a death, but it was never mentioned how close the relationship was or when any service was in relation to the date of the meeting she was missing.

Shouldn't the Board vote on allowing an absent member to attend by telephone? This is done in meetings of many public bodies. The Secretary could inform the Chair of protocol and reference in Robert's Rules of Order. Is that part of her responsibilities as Board Secretary? To see that things are done correctly? Her role of Secretary is not just to sign her name, when someone tells her to do so.

Since McKie has never taken the oath of office legally and owes $51,750 to the Ethics Commission, isn't it time for McKie to leave the board? Actually, she can't "leave" the board, because she has never legitimately been on it. To become a legal member, all she has to do is raise her right hand and take the oath. Even now, it's not too late. She became eligible to take the oath on December 4, 2018. Of course, she'd have to refuse her trustee wages since November 13, 2018.

What will be the effect of a garnishment of School Board Trustee wages, when the S.C. Department of Revenue attaches McKie's wages in collection of the debt to the Ethics Commission? How will the Secretary record that? Will she?

Why isn't the Board Secretary throwing a red flag on the field over this? Cheryl Caution-Parker, as Board Secretary (versus the secretary on the District staff who writes up the Minutes) is the keeper of the official records. I wonder if she even knows this.

Under Board Policy AR BD-R a duty of the Board Secretary is to "prepare such reports ... as may be prescribed by the statutes or directions of the chairman of the board." Has she ever been directed to prepare a report? This Policy allows for a staff person only to record minutes and proceedings. Does the Secretary review and approve them before they are presented for Board approval? Does the Secretary know what is required of her under the South Carolina Code of Laws?

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Caution-Parker - faux outrage

Trustee Cheryl Caution-Parker became emotional and angry at the end of the February 11, 2020 board meeting. You can see and hear it, beginning at 1:57:16 on the YouTube video-recording of the meeting.

After thanking everyone, she said, "And I just want to make a point here. This really has affected me. It is bothering me after almost 40 years in this district, a superintendent is being questioned, or challenged, about going out of state - going to a conference, a national conference, and representing our district. I find it reprehensible, and I really am questioning the real - the REAL reason behind all of this. Thank you."

Explain to me why a concerned citizen should not be able to ask questions and why even board members should not be able to ask questions about a superintendent.

Caution-Parker is now one year into her current four-year term. She does not demonstrate the critical thinking skills of a Manager or Executive needed to function professionally as a school board trustee.

The superintendent' could have answered Trustee Agostini's question about who is paying for his trip in 15 words. "The League of Innovative Schools is paying my expenses and there is no speaking fee." Why did he ramble on and on?

When she had a student who gave her a long-winded, circuitous answer to a very straight-forward, basic question, didn't she ever want to know the real - the REAL - reason behind it?

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Schools belong to the public

Oh, really?

I wonder how recently any board member has read this message:

Maintaining excellent public schools requires the cooperation and effort of everyone in the community. Members of the school board are aware that schools belong to the public, and they recognize the importance of keeping the community involved with and informed about the activities of the schools and the school board. Your school board members encourage you to stay informed about education issues and to attend board meetings regularly.

The above paragraph was lifted straight from the District's website. You can read it here.

If a member of the public had been in attendance last night to witness the attacks by McKie, Caution-Parker and Shadd on a local resident and community member (me), would he ever come to another board meeting? Would he ever stick his neck out and risk making a three-minute comment during Public Participation? Would he have the courage to speak out?

Or would he say, "Whoa! I'll never do that!"

The Public Participation Requst to Speak form informs the prospective speaker that the board does not participate in debates. Speakers are requested to refrain from any form of personal abuse.

That request obviously does not apply to the members of the board themselves. Watch the video of last night's meeting, including the discussion at Item 13.1 (beginning at 1:33:40 on the timer) and the Board and Superintendent Comments (beginning at 1:55:50 on the timer). Listen carefully to the attacks by McKie, Caution-Parker and Shadd.

Remember this at the next election of Board members.

Supt. Davis already on conference agenda

Last night the School Board approved a change in the date for the second Regular Meeting in March. The meeting is being changed from March 24 to March 31.

This is being done to accommodate Supt. Baron Davis, so that he can travel to L.A. for a conference sponsored by the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools and Compton and El Segundo USDs.

Supt. Davis' photo and bio already appear on the League's website! He is to speak on Monday, March 23 at 2:30PM P.T.. Scroll down to below the fold on the Davis' webpage there.

So what was all the uproar about last night?

With a speaking date on March 23, he easily could have flown back to Columbia on Monday and fulfilled his superintendent's duties at the March 24 meeting!!! Or he could have designated an Assistant Superintendent to fill in on Tuesday night.

Instead, seven Board members and 15-20 staffers will be expected to adjust the personal time and evening hours to show up. How many already had something else planned for that evening?

How long ago did he accept the speaking engagement?

Did they come to him, or did he approach them and submit his topic for consideration?

The Board got snookered last night, and they fell for it.

Who wants to run for R2 school board?

It's not too early to toss your hat in the ring to be one of the three trustees to be elected in November for the Richland 2 School Board.

On November 3, 2020 District voters will elect persons to fill the expiring terms of James Shadd, Monica Elkins-Johnson and Lindsay Agostini.

I hope Lindsay Agostini will run again. Her insight and attention to detail are obvious. From her questions at school board meetings, it is obvious that she studies the board packets before meetings and begins pondering decisions to be made at meetings. Lindsay absolutely merits re-election, although I won't be surprised if she decides not to run. Too many board votes are 6-1, with Lindsay's standing up for what is right, exercising independence and voting for what is right for the District.  - and seeing the vote go against her position.

Monica Elkins-Johnson asks insightful questions, too. I usually must learn what she said at meetings by watching the YouTube video-recording, because she has a soft voice and turns her head away from the microphone to look at the person she is addressing. She merits re-election. Monica occasionally breaks from the herd mentality.

James Shadd should be replaced. He sides every time with the superintendent, as happened last night. The superintendent can defend himself (with many words) on any issue, but Shadd jumps right in with his 2¢ worth. He refuses to speak loudly or into the microphone without mumbling. Last night was an exception. Watch his closing attack in the Board & Superintendent Comments just before the end of the meeting. Shadd too has had problems with the Ethics Commission and recently allowed a $1,400 debt in Ethics Commission fines to hit the media. Board members should be squeaky clean.

Requirements to run are publicly available. Learn them, including requirements of the S.C. Ethics Commission.

Start your campaign early. For suggestions for low-cost campaigning, call me. I'll be glad to give you ideas. Note the word: give.

The November 2022 election will be even more important. At that time voters will have the opportunity to say Good-bye to Caution-Parker and .McKie. Maybe by then Holmes will have taken the oath legally and have become a legitimate member of the Board.

True Colors

Several men and women at the front tables during last night's School Board meeting showed their true colors. In striving to present themselves as a "Premier Board" of a "Premier School District", they let an unprofessional and ongoing attack occur that was directed at a member of the Richland 2 community (me).

There is no doubt that it is Black Power Month at Richland 2. McKie, Caution-Parker and Shadd flexed their jaw muscles at last night's meeting. And, when Trustee Agostini asked who is paying for the superintendent's jaunt to L.A. in March, he answered with a lengthy and defensive response, rather than just saying that the host organization will reimburse travel expenses, with no payment for his speaking.

This game can get played in both directions. They'll get the last word at a Board meeting, but I'll get the last word here. Of course, they are free to comment below, if they have the courage that Rep. Thigpen mentioned in his inspirational moment.

I wonder whether the Board Chair might have offered me five minutes just before adjournment for rebuttal.

It was a little lopsided to allow three board members to pile on. "Ethics Commission Debtor" McKie led the rush. Caution-Parker displayed outrage (as opposed to sitting wordlessly, as she has through meeting after meeting), and Shadd came alive for the first time in 13 months.

They got to close out the meeting, but there will always be future meetings.

Perhaps at a future meeting some of these questions will come up.

* Is "The Premier 100", the #1 High-Urgency Initiative presented by the superintendent last night, a Board-approved initiative? It is to hire 100 men-of-color. Why isn't it to hire 100 of the best and brightest applicants for employment, rather than men of color? Is Richland 2 going to be racially-biased and discriminate in its hiring practices?

* Has McKie made a payment toward her $51.750 debt to the Ethics Commission?

* Did McKie get fined $100 by the Ethics Commission for filing her January 10, 2020 Campaign Disclosure Report more than 30 days late?

* Has Shadd settled his $1,400 debt to the Ethics Commission?

* Do all of the Board members read and understand all of the electronic packet sent to them before each Board meeting? Or do many of them just vote "Yes" because the superintendent presents it?

Greener's Law? - unknown to the Board

"Never buy ink from a man who buys ink from the barrel."

Sometimes called Greener's Law, the origin of this sentence is in question. One website article identifies several possible sources.

I thought about that phrase after last night's board meeting ended. Several trustees thought they might have gotten the last word.


It's generally not a good idea to argue with a person who writes a blog. I'm generally polite and respectful, unlike Amelia McKie, James Shadd and Cheryl Caution-Parker. And unlike the superintendent's demeaning comment to Trustee Agostini.

If I were on the board of directors of a business and the president spoke to me in public as Baron Davis did to Trustee Agostini, that president would soon be looking for a new job.

Of course, if the board of directors was stacked the way the Richland 2 School Board is, I expect I'd be the Lone Ranger.

I was on a steering committee of a large networking group in Denver, and the six of us got along well. Each person did his or her own job, without assistance or supervision, for more than a year. My role was emcee and treasurer. Over a period of time we began voting on issues and items, and I noticed the votes were 5-1, 5-1, 5-1. Guess who the "1" was.

Then the five wanted to incorporate and elect officers. I asked "Why?" Every week 125 men and women showed up for our Tuesday meeting. We were often SRO. "Why fix something that's not broken?

We engaged a mediator for a Sunday wrangle. One assignment she gave us was to
1. Write down the purpose of Win/Win Forum.
2. Look around and go sit with people with whom you are aligned.

I wrote out my definition of the Purpose. I stood up, looked around and sat back down - by myself. The mediator came to my table and asked if I had understood the assignment. (Yes). Had I done it? (Yes)  Then she read what I had written and said, "Well, that's what this group is about."

To which I responded, "And now you know why you are here.

The group did incorporate and elected officers; I stopped attending. The weekly attendance dropped from 125 to 40.It continued for another 3-4 years with low attendance and then ended.

I'm hiding... I'm hiding ...

Remember the old joke about "I'm hiding"?

Amelia McKie attended last night's Richland 2 School Board meeting by telephone. Where was she?

In most public bodies, when a member attends by telephone, not only is that announced at the beginning of the meeting (as it was last night), but also a vote is taken by those present in person to allow that absent member to attend by phone. Last night it wasn't.

Also, the member's absence is usually explained to the public and to the other board members in public. Last night it wasn't.

This is the second meeting in 2020 that she has missed in person. Why? Was she sick? Traveling on business? Or just hiding out, since she owes $51,750 in fines and penalties to the S.C. Ethics Commission, has a judgment filed against her in Richland County Common Pleas Court for that amount, and missed the January 10, 2020 deadline for filing her Campaign Disclosure Report by more than 30 days.

Does McKie have a business or income? On her latest Statement of Economic Interests Report (SEI), filed yesterday with the S.C. Ethics Commission, she lists private source, personal consulting income from ILLC. No amount of income is required to be disclosed by the Ethics Commission. By allowing her to identify the source as ILLC, it is impossible to determine what ILLC is and whether there might be a conflict of interest, which is the purpose of the SEI. (The S.C. Department of Revenue should be quite interested in that, because it might be able to latch onto it is partial settlement of her $51,750 debt to the Ethics Commission.

McKie must not have any friends on the board, although I'm sure she would claim otherwise. Apparently, not one of her "friends" bothered to remind her that she had failed to file that Campaign Disclosure Report on time. The Ethics Commission allows a five-day grace period for filing and then assesses a $100.00 penalty after 30 days. With friends like those, who needs enemies?

McKie took a big shot at me from hiding, when Item 13.1 came up last night. I can't wait to replay her comments, as soon as the District posts the video-recording on YouTube later today or tomorrow. She was the first to mention the e-mail I had sent to all board members, asking them to vote down the expected motion to change the date of the second Regular Meeting in March.

McKie was really sucking up to the superintendent. Why would a board member do that? The same question could be asked of others on the board. I was just waiting for a giant sucking noise to sweep through the room.

Shadd finds his voice

At last night's Richland 2 School Board meeting Trustee James Shadd finally found his voice!

For the first time in 13 months of my attending board meetings, he could be heard throughout the room.

This remarkable event occurred near the end of the meeting, during the Board and Superintendent Comments. Shadd leaned forward, spoke directly into his microphone, raised his voice to full volume, and looked directly at me. He even acknowledged that he was speaking up.

I guess he felt he needed to don his lawyer hat and bearing to continue to defend the superintendent, as he had during Item 13.1 earlier in the meeting.

Now that you know how to speak up, James, will you please continue to do so at future meetings? It was much better than sitting in the audience, watching you move your lips and listening to you mumble through your hands into the microphone, and trying to guess what you were saying.

By now you have to know that the microphones in front of board members do not amplify voices well in the meeting room. Ask the sound man; he knows this. For them to do so, one needs to place the microphone near his lips and speak directly into it. When the head is turned away from the microphone and the speaking voice is soft or low, the microphone does not amplify a voice in the room.

Like I've been saying for 13 months...

It's too bad that you didn't just limit your comments to the Motion that was on the floor. The Motion, you may remember, was whether to change the date of the second meeting in March, not justify what a good guy you think the superintendent's is.

S.C. rules on FOIA law

An important court decision involving FOIA is reported in The Independent Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County. Read their article here.

The issue involved an agenda change by a public body. The Voice's story explains it.

How does this apply to Richland 2?

Remember when, recently, Richland 2 failed to post an attachment regarding a Resolution on a bond matter to its agenda?

This meant the public had no idea what the Board was going to consider and be asked to approve. Did the Board even have trouble getting the Resolution in advance?

The public was deprived of the opportunity to read and study the Resolution before the board considered it. At the meeting that night the Board Chair remarked, after my three-minute comment on that issue, that the Resolution had been posted to the website. Actually, it hadn't been; but the Resolution was attached to the Agenda just before the public session started at 6:30PM.

This constituted an illegal change to the agenda within 24 hours. That was a violation of South Carolina Code of Laws Section 30-4-80.

At least one Trustee did read the entire Resolution carefully. That trustee made a motion to delete the sentence allowing the superintendent to direct the District's bond counsel (Burr Forman) to "associate" co-counsel (Jabber & Isaac). In other words, to add an unnecessary component to the bond work. Either the District would cough up the money to pay Jabber & Isaac, or Burr Forman would have to pay Jabber out of the money it is paid by Richland 2.

The Board voted 7-0 to delete that sentence, smacking down the superintendent. But he got in the last word during the Board and Superintendent Comments. He said he'll be asking for Jabber & Isaac to get work in the future.

Jabber & Isaac P.A. lists no bond issue experience whatsoever on its website.

Why does the superintendent like Jabber & Isaac? For diversity? Because the two lawyers there are black, as is he? Because at least one (black) board member may be a good buddy of one of the lawyers there?

The Post and Courier published a lengthy article on February 9, 2020 about the cozy relationship between Richland One School District's President with his lawyer wife on bond issue work. That wife is Tameika Isaac Devine, a Columbia City Councilwoman. Is anyone's nose twitching yet?

Chaos at Board Meeting

Last night's Richland 2 School Board meeting disintegrated into chaos during the discussion of Item 13.1, the plan (by some) to change the date of the second Regular Meeting in March. The superintendent wants to hop off to Los Angeles, and the board needed to approve the change, if it wanted to accommodate his absence.

I had written a email to the board members (and to the the two illegal Trustees-elect), suggesting a few questions and wondering why they didn't hold to the schedule and just have an Assistant Superintendent fill in. Separate articles will follow and will describe the superintendent's snide and demeaning accusation toward one of the trustees and the personal attacks on me by several board members. As soon as the video-recording is published on YouTube by the District, I'll identify the locations of these remarks by the timer on the recording.

You won't want to waste your time listening to the whole two-hour meeting. Frankly, the entire board shouldn't have wasted its time conducting the whole meeting.

All in all, it was a great way to spend the evening of my 81st birthday. I thought about using my three minutes during Public Participation to sing Happy Birthday to me, but I figured that my presence was enough torture for them.

Several thoughts came to mind last night, and I'll expand on them in the following articles. One was "There is no such thing as a short answer". Another was the need for a new honorary degree of M.B.S.  The name of the first honoree is ...  (I'll delay the surprise.)

The disrespect for the Board Chair is amazing. Most board members are either ignorant of meeting rules and just blatantly disregard them. I'll go with the latter. This board would do well to invite the Robert's Rules of Order expert back for a thorough training and ask her to explain the Rules to them in a way they can understand. Kindergarten-level might be needed for many of the board members.

McKie, Shadd and Caution-Parker really ought to think about choosing to bash the man who writes a blog. Their ugliest warts will be exposed - over and over.

The Board Chair should exert his proper and allowable authority over the Board for the conduct of a meeting. James Manning is a nice guy and doesn't want to rule with a heavy hand. The result? Same as in a classroom. A bunch of unruly colleagues just walk all over him. When a board member wants to go on a tear off-topic, he should interrupt them and bring everyone back on topic.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

McKie Fails to File - Again!

Every quarter, political candidates and office-holders in South Carolina are required to file Campaign Disclosure Reports with the South Carolina Ethics Commission.

Yet again, Richland 2 School Board Trustee (-Elect) Amelia McKie has failed to file!!!

The latest report was due January 10, 2020. As of today, February 11, 2020, at 11:20AM that report has not been filed. Reports are filed electronically.

While I have never filed one, I suspect it might required 90 seconds of a busy person's time to file it.

After McKie was fined $51,750 by the S.C. Ethics Commission, a Judgment was filed last July in the Richland County Common Pleas Court. The S.C. Department of Revenue should be taking action to collect it. Steps can include garnishment of wages, attachment of income tax refunds and, I suspect, seizure of property, including bank accounts, vehicles and real estate.

After McKie found herself in hot water in 2018, she filed many late quarterly and annual returns with the Ethics Commission. She was quite busy on January 9, 2019, according to public records.

She even filed the report due January 10, 2019, on time; on January 9, 2019, as a matter of fact.

The next report was due April 10, 2019, and she didn't file that one until May 8, 2019. What part of $51,750 for filing late does she not understand?

The next report was due July 10, 2019, and she filed that one late, on July 18, 2019.

The next one was due October 10, 2019, and she managed to file that one on-time, on October 10, 2019.

And, just like clockwork, the next one was due January 10, 2020. And that one has not been filed yet.

Filing this one after 30 days will cost her $100.

How can Richland 2 School Board be a "premier school board" with a second-term trustee who won't even file required Ethics forms on time?

Monday, February 10, 2020

Who works for whom?

In the Richland 2 School District -

Does the superintendent work for the School District? Is he directed by the School Board?

Or does the school board work for him?

The correct answer is easy and very clear.

The superintendent works for the District. The Board tells him what to do (and what not to).

How does it work? If the District directs the superintendent to do something, it will be by Board direction. Somebody on the Board will make a Motion  (or there will be a long silence); somebody else will second the Motion. There may or may not be discussion, and then there will be a vote.

The vote is where you find out who works for whom.

There are seven trustees (well, that's questionable). Four "Yes" votes are needed to approve a Motion.

The way things are happening right now, if the superintendent wants something, he can count on votes from McKie, Holmes, Shadd, and Caution-Parker. Those four control the board.

It won't matter what Manning, Agostini and Elkins-Johnson say or want.

If the Board wants to send the superintendent down the road, it takes five (5) votes. He'd have to shoot someone in New York City, and there probably wouldn't be five votes to fire him even then.

The only allegiance the Board should have is to the taxpayers and voters in the voting boundaries of the Richland 2 School District. Those are the "bosses" the Trustees should have to keep happy.

There is an election coming up on November 3, 2020 for three School Board members. Start doing your homework now.

A more critical election will be in November 2022, when voters have a chance to decide on McKie, Holmes and Caution-Parker. Will McKie have paid her $51,750 fine to the S.C. Ethics Commission by then?

Post & Courier mentions Richland 2

Take a good look at this Post & Courier article about sweetheart deals cooked up in Richland One School District. See the reference to Richland Two at the end of the article.

Then think about the "deal" put in place in January 2019, when the Richland Two School Board approved a 10-page Resolution foisted on them by Administration.

Most of it was bond document boilerplate. Did every one of the Richland Two board members wade through every line in that Resolution? And did they understand what they were approving?

Everything was kosher until you got to the last two sentences in Section 21 on Page 9.

That's where the Board jumped off the coachbox and tossed the reins to the superintendent, giving him authority to direct Burr Forman to associate co-counsel for the purposes of diversity and to have control over bond issues. Control that properly belongs in the hands of the entire Board.

In other words, hire Tameika Isaac Devine, a black female lawyer in a two-person firm in Columbia, whose husband just happens to be on the Richland One school board. With a small firm that lists absolutely NO bond experience on its website.

Bond work is incredibly complex. Burr Forman is competent. It has a large staff to deal with complicated issues. It has diversity. The lead attorney on the Richland 2 bond work is female. No doubt it employs many black attorneys and staff.

The Richland 2 Board should go back and scrap that authority. There is no reason to tell Burr Forman to cough up part of its fees on the superintendent's say-so.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

SRO Report by Sheriff Lott

At 0:27:55 on the January 28 Board Meeting video-recording, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott was introduced to report on school resource officers (SROs).

The RCSD point-of-contact with the Richland 2 School District is Cleveland Smith. Chief Administrative Services Officer.

Twenty-seven SROs cover 22 schools, including four schools added to the SRO program last month. RCSD has a total of 90 SROs which, Sheriff Lott mentioned, is more deputies than many departments in the state have in their whole department. He mentioned that SROs teach (some) classes, including the DARE Program.

Five weapons have been confiscated in Richland 2 schools this year, including one gun.

Trustee Agostini asked Sheriff Lott how can the seriousness of "kidding-type" threats be gotten across to students; i.e., that a threat is not a joke. He said that Lexington 5 produced a video that was distributed to students.

Note to Teresa Holmes and Board members; Mute your microphones when there is a speaker at the podium.

Holmes made a gushing expression of appreciation to Sheriff Lott.

It should be remembered that Holmes went to the Sheriff's Department in March 2019 and filed a frivolous report of harassment against me. The Sheriff's Department quickly determined that her report had no merit. RCSD should have filed charges against her for false reporting, because the report contained numerous lies. You can read all about that right here.

It seems to me that Trustee Elkins-Johnson requested information from the Administration about the costs of having deputies at the school board meetings. I wonder if she ever got the details.

1/28/2020 Board Meeting - one public speaker

At the January 28, 2020 Regular Meeting of the school board, the Minutes for this meeting indicate that "One person spoke during public participation. "

It is the practice of the District not to identify the person who spoke in the Minutes and not to provide information about the topic addressed. There is no written record of the name of the person and no mention of the topic. That detail is lost forever - except in the video-recording of the meeting.

In this way the Minutes of every Board meeting are incomplete.

Who spoke during Public Participation on January 28?

At 0:03:59 on the YouTube video-recording the Board Chair introduced (sounded like) Latasha Talton to speak during the Public Participation segment of the meeting. When she introduced herself, her name sounded to me like Ratasha Talton. She told the board that she is an Activities bus driver (for the District).

Ms. Talton spoke to the board about the money ($1,000 bonus) that is set aside for the permanent, full-time employees. There are 30 drivers in the Activities (bus) section who are part-time employees. They fill in when needed and work without benefits. She mentioned "medical" (which may depend on how many hours a part-time employee can get in). They get no time off. She asked that the board remember them (when money is being passed out).

Her words were prophetic, because she referred to inclement weather and not getting paid when, for example, activities are canceled. Isn't that exactly what happened two days later?

In fairness to all employees, should not the board have made some disbursement to part-time employees, instead of just doling out $1,000 to all full-time, permanent salaried employees?

That is one brave lady.

I wonder how long she'll be employed by the District. Will she suffer the same fate as Lt. Col. Vindman and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Yovanovitch?

Thank you, Ms. Talton, for being brave enough to step up and address the board! I hope they didn't just listen to you; I hope they heard you.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

How should Board vote? Yea or Nay?

The following email is being sent to the five legal Trustees on the Richland 2 School Board and the two Trustees-Elect, who have been serving illegally on the Board since November 13, 2018.

If you agree, please contact the board members now to express your opinions.

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

The published agenda for the February 11 Regular Meeting includes this request.

"Administration is requesting changes to dates of two upcoming board meetings:
"March 24 to March 31: This change is needed to accommodate a request from the Digital League of Innovative Schools and Compton Unified School District. These organizations have asked Dr. Davis to present on the equity initiatives underway in Richland Two at the League of Innovative Schools Spring Meeting."

I urge you to vote "No", if/when a Motion is made to agree to the "Administration's" request (the superintendent's request) to change the date of the second meeting in March.

You can do this by just not making the Motion.

If someone does make the motion, you can refuse to second it.

If someone seconds it, you can vote No. Four No votes will defeat it. If a board member is absent on February 11, three No votes will defeat it.

Supt. Davis earns almost $20,000 per MONTH (including nearly $1,250/month car allowance!) and belongs at his desk and on his feet in the Richland 2 School District. He owes his time solely to Richland 2. His going to a California conference to speak provides no benefit or value to Richland 2.

Why should seven Board members change their schedules and the public's schedule to accommodate his wish to go Los Angeles? He is likely to earn a substantial honorarium and expense reimbursement, even as he draws his Richland 2 salary. Richland 2 pays him approximately an average of $952 per DAY, and he should be here to earn it! Every day.

Why should 20 staff members change their schedules so the superintendent can hop off to L.A.? Will he fly there on Tuesday and fly back Tuesday night, or will he "vacation" there for the three-day meeting? Will you pay him nearly $3,000 to go to L.A. for his own enjoyment?

If he wishes to go somewhere on his own time, without interfering with his responsibilities to Richland 2 School District, that's his business. He got a $12,000 raise last year, beyond the standard pay increase, plus a $1,000 bonus this year.

We certainly do not need more liberal, California-based philosophies and ideas in Richland 2 schools.

Supt. Davis reported unknown private-source personal income from both Carolina Educational Services & Consulting and the University of the Cumberlands on his SEI filed last month. Why isn't he required to devote his full time to Richland 2 responsibilities?

The Board Trustees should approve, in advance, any absence from official Richland 2 duties by the superintendent, just as Administration would insist on approving any absence from duties of an employee or teacher. Imagine if a teacher said he had a side-hustle during the work week and wanted time off to handle it. Would the superintendent tell him not to bother to come back?

Did the Digital Promise League Of Innovative Schools approach him, or did the superintendent express an interest in speaking and compete for a slot on its program? Did he already accept the speaking gig?

I urge you to hold the Regular Meeting as scheduled. If the superintendent is absent, direct the Asst. Superintendent to appear in his place. For the small contribution that the superintendent makes at bi-monthly meetings, certainly the Asst. Sup't. can fill in. And dock the superintendent for the days of work he misses.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Do Not Enter!

If you are going to an early morning meeting at the Sandhills public library at R2i2 (the Richland 2 Institute of Innovation), do NOT expect to enter the building before 9:00AM (on the dot) to use the restroom after driving an hour to get there.

No matter how far your drove or how little coffee you drank before you set out. No matter if it is raining, snowing, or under a tornado threat or watch. No matter what!

If your meeting is scheduled to start at 9:00AM, you will be late.

The public is not to be admitted before 9:00AM. This is by order of the Richland 2 School District Superintendent, Baron Davis.

The sign on the door reads 9:00AM, and a building security officer will unlock the door AT 9:00AM.

However, if you are an applicant for Richland 2 employment, then you'll be allowed to enter early and sit in the lobby out of the wind and rain and cold, with access to restrooms.

But if you are a member of the tax-paying public and there for a meeting in the public-access building, then you will NOT be admitted. If you do happen to enter, you will be asked to leave.

The security guards are polite, and they are only following (dumb) orders. If they don't do as they are told, they'll be looking for work elsewhere. So don't give them a hard time. They might want to let you in. They don't dare do it.

If you think this policy is wrong, show up at a Richland 2 School Board meeting and tell the Trustees what you think. Ask for an explanation why members of the public are not allowed to enter the building. Assk why they cannot enter and wait just inside the door, out of the weather.

R2i2 is not Fort Knox. It's not a bank. It's not a Post Office (even there you can wait in an enclosed space until the opening minute).

You'd better believe that Richland 2 employees will obey the rules and the orders of the superintendent. If not, look for them at the Unemployment Office.

Why is it that an order comes from the superintendent to keep the public out. Wouldn't you think that the facility manager could be authorized to make such a decision?

It couldn't have anything to do with the fact that I was with a group of 20 waiting to enter on Monday morning and, when we were rebuffed, that I called the superintendent's office to ask admittance?

Don't you have to wonder, if Jesse Jackson or Jim Clyburn or Barack or Michelle Obama or Marlon Kimpson or Mia McLeod showed at 8:30AM, would they be told to wait in the rain or cold? Thoughts, anyone?