Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Failures of Tonight's Livestream of Board Meeting

I'd really like to be able to say good things about tonight's Livestream of the Richland 2 Board Meeting.
1. The open session started on time at 5:30PM
2. The open session resumed at 6:00PM

Now, let me list the failures.

- Before 5:30PM there was utter audio confusion.
- No call-in telephone number was provided.
- At 5:30PM no roll call was taken. It was impossible to know who was present in person, who was present by telephone, and whether any board member was absent.
- Confusion continued as the open session moved into Executive Session.
- The open session re-convened at 6:00PM.
- No roll call was taken.
- No mention of those who had telephoned into the meeting.
- No reason given for their attending by phone, as required in the Board Policy.
- Motion to approve agenda. Vote was 6-1. The Nay vote was not identified.
- After the Consent Agenda was approved 7-0, the Chair mentioned some were tele-conferencing.

* Those who were teleconferencing should have been identified at the beginning of the meeting. The reason for their so doing should have been explained. The Chair should have made certain that all could hear and be heard.

- BEDH was considered. McKie could not be heard. Agostinis said she did not support the suspension of Public Participation. Shadd could not be heard. McKie could not be heard or understood. Shadd could not be heard as he addressed the Supt. He apparently turned his head toward the Supt. and away from his microphone. The vote was 6-1. The Nay vote was not identified..

- The discussion of the 2020-2021 Calendar was a 3-ring circus. Elkins-Johnson ultimately withdrew her motion, but the Chair still called for a vote. Where was the copy of Robert's Rule of Order?

- 6;50PM Why does McKie constantly suck up to Supt. Davis? She rambled on and on, just grabbing mic time. The Chair should cut her off.

- Finally, at 6:57PM, when Board & Supt. Comments started, the Chair disclosed who was attending by phone. Five Board members were on the phone. Agostini, McKie, Holmes, Caution-Parker, Elkins-Johnson.
- This meant the Board did not have a quorum of five present in person at the meeting.
- I content a public body must have a quorum present in person to hold a valid public meeting.
- Only Manning and Shadd were present in person.
- This very likely means that tonight's meeting was not a valid, legal meeting of the public body.

Wait, one more good thing to say. Shadd did not have anything to say during the Board & Supt. Comments.

- When the motion to adjourn was made, there was a voice vote which could not be heard. The Chair should have called the name of each board member and waited for the Yes or No response. The Chair announced "It's unanimous" and the Livestream instantly cut off. Presumably he continued to say that the meeting was adjourned. Otherwise, everybody must still be sitting there.

The bottom line? This board doesn't have a clue how to conduct a meeting when a number of members attend by phone. Hopefully they will seek expert advice before they try it again.

Public Participation or Attendance?

The Richland 2 School Board is poised to act at tonight's board meeting to suspend Public Participation. Board Policy BEDH is on the agenda as an item preceding the usual Public Participation segment.

The Board is apparently unable to distinguish between public participation (speaking at meetings) and public attendance (sitting and observing the meeting). Why is it wanting to suspend Public Participation? Why does it want to silence the public? Why is it infringing on the First Amendment rights of the public?

Should the board approve the suspension, presumably they will deem their action effective immediately, thereby preventing any member of the public from speaking tonight.

The problem?

Item 4 on the agenda is approval of the agenda. The agenda contains Public Participation as Item 7. If the board, as part of Item 6, suspends Public Participation, they should be able to only make it effective for future meetings. Since Public Participation will already have been approved as part of tonight's meeting, how will they be able to prevent someone from speaking?

And why would they do so?

The next problem with tonight's meeting is the announced exclusion of the public from tonight's public board meeting. An open meeting of a public body, such as a school board, cannot exclude the public. But the District has announced its intention to do so. It seems to consider audio-streaming as the equivalent of being present at a meeting. IT IS NOT.

Who authorized the District to announce a restriction that eliminates the public from tonight's meeting? Did the Administration (represented by Supt. Baron Davis) make that decision on its (his) own? Certainly, the Board never met to consider or approve that.

And a false reason is given, when the District states on its website: "Due to the restrictions on public gatherings related to the coronavirus, the public will not be able to attend the meeting..." This is false!

Gov. McMaster issued an Executive Order prohibiting gatherings of three or more people, but he meant groups of people on the streets, in parks, in neighborhoods, etc. He did not mean people at home, at work, or at law-abiding businesses.

So the public can attend tonight's meeting, except the School District is saying it cannot. This is clearly a violation of its authority and of the law. And even of the Constitution.

So much for being a law-abiding business.

I write this with full appreciation for the seriousness of the COVID-19 threat. The public is smart enough to make its own decisions. Perhaps it is illegal (against the Governor's mandate, as the District calls it) for even the Board to meet in executive or open session, even without an audience.

What the Board should do is create seating for tonight's meeting with regard to social-distancing, and then permit attendance by a number limited to specified seats. You know, like President Trump does at his press conferences. All the chairs are there, but reporters are scattered throughout the room.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Who runs District 2? The S.C. School Boards Assn.???

The agenda for tomorrow's School Board meeting has changed.

A media release today revealed more information about the trap being sprung on the public tomorrow night.

If you've read recent articles here, the Board was going to be asked by Adminstration to approve undisclosed revision(s) to Board Policy BEDH (Public Participation) on a first reading, and the attachment explaining that was omitted from the original agenda.

Now we know. Now we know what the Board Chair and the Superintendent knew last week when they put together the agenda for the March 31, 2020 Regular Meeting.

The attachment with the proposed revision still is not attached to the agenda, but the revised agenda explains it. Of course, you can't tell that it is a revised agenda, because the revision is not so noted on it. Here it is.

"Per the recommendation of the S.C. School Board Association in light of the global health emergency, the board will consider a recommendation to suspend Policy BEDH Public Participation At Meetings."

There is no state-wide order to limit group size of attendance at "law-abiding businesses". The School Board could be considered such a "law-abiding business" (except for those times when it doesn't follow the law).

While limited public attendance to a meeting might be a good idea, the Administration asks the Board to lay it off on the S.C. School Boards Association (SCSBA). The Board should take full responsibility on its own shoulders and not try to slough this off on the SCSBA.

EVERY member of the Richland 2 Board should vote NO on this - for several reasons.

It is the public to which the Board is responsible.

The SCSBA does not run Richland School District Two!!!

The Board could create social-distancing with proper placement of chairs in the board meeting room and limit - but not prohibit - public attendance.

Public Participation is still on the agenda, and the board should hear from the public - in public.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

District 2 is lying to the public

On Richland 2's website is this message. It's not all that easy to  find, but it's there.


The Richland Two Board of Trustees will hold a regularly scheduled meeting on March 31, 2020. Executive session will begin at 5:30 p.m and public session will resume at 6 p.m. Due to the restrictions on public gatherings related to the coronavirus, the public will not be able to attend the meeting but are invited to listen to live streamed audio at www.richland2.org/livestream.

The problem is with the truthfulness of the statement "Due to the restrictions on public meetings..."

There are currently NO restrictions on meetings in homes, at work, or of law-abiding businesses. Gov. McMaster made this exception to his prohibition on gatherings of three or more people.

It is important to actually watch public meetings. Unless you can see the members of the public body, you will not know when they are having side conversations that cannot be overheard by the audience or even by other board members. Everything is supposed to be heard by everybody there.

You also will not know when members of the public body (school board) are reading or sending text messages or email. It's bad enough when board members can't live without checking their messages during a public meeting.

And the public won't know who is arriving late or leaving early, if you can't see the board meeting.

You won't see the grimaces and the disdain shown by one board member toward another.

You won't see the body posture of others, when one board member rambles endlessly just to have "microphone time".

You won't be able to lean forward and cup your hand to your ear, when a board member mumbles into a microphone with a hand in front of the mouth.

And you won't be there to speak during the Public Participation segment that is on the agenda.

If three board members are absent, you won't be able to ask the board not to hold an illegal meeting. If four are present in person, that's not a quorum. And a quorum of five is required to hold a public meeting of this school board. I believe that calling in by phone does not get counted toward a quorum.

Can Board meet on March 31?

Earlier in March South Carolina Governor McMaster issued an order that groups of 50 or more shall not gather. This is part of South Carolina's response to the coronavirus COVID-19 problem.

Later this month Governor McMaster tightened his order, which now prohibits gatherings of three or more people and grants authority to law enforcement to break up gatherings of this size. He explained that his order "does not apply to homes, work places, or law-abiding businesses."

Will Richland 2 cancel its March 31 board meeting?

A quorum of the seven board members is required to hold a meeting. Richland 2 has defined a quorum as five (5). I believe the law is intended to mean that a quorum must be present in person.

If there aren't five board members present in person on March 31, any attempt to conduct business will be illegal. All the Board Chair can do is announce that no meeting can take place. I believe Richland 2 cannot have a legal quorum with fewer than five present in person. Any other board members attending by telephone should not be counted in determining whether a quorum exists..

If there are not five board members present Tuesday night, then Richland 2 will not be a "law-abiding business" and one of the Richland County Sheriff's Department deputies present should break up the meeting, as ordered by Gov. McMaster. Will he?

Is Richland 2 pulling a fast one?

When Richland 2 school district published the agenda for the March 31, 2020 Regular Meeting (re-scheduled from March 24), I noticed immediately that the proposed revision to Board Policy BEDH had not been attached to the agenda.

Omitting it is the equivalent of keeping it secret from the public. This provokes a second question. Do the board members know what is in the revision?

This morning an equally-important change in the Agenda jumped out at me.

Notice Item 6 in the agenda, which can be viewed on the District's website. 
Go to www.Richland2.org
Click on EXPLORE (top right)
Click on School Board
Click on AGENDA
Under Meetings, click on Regular Board Meeting
Click on View the Agenda
Scroll down the list on the left

Usually, "New Business - Action Requested" follows Public Participation.

However, for the March 31 meeting, this item is in the agenda twice. The first time is before Public Participation. Why is this important?

Because the proposed revisions to Board Policy BEDH address Public Participation!!!

The Board will be asked to approve the revisions, yet the Board has never seen the proposed revisions. Normally, the proposed revisions are presented for discussion and considered in a first reading, and then a vote is taken at a following meeting.

But not this time.

Administration is violating Board Policy by jumping the line with this item. Why?

What if the Board hasn't even received a copy of the proposed revisions yet?

Why is this item placed ahead of Public Participation?

The proper place for it is in Item 10 "New Business - No Action Requested"

Now, the superintendent knows this. The Board Chair knows it. Why the change???

Will the public be allowed to question this on March 31, before the Board votes? Not according to the agenda. Public Participation occurs after the board considers Item 6.1.

The agenda for meetings is compiled by the Board Chair and the superintendent. Will there be some fireworks at the March 31 meeting? See you there.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Board Meeting - time change. Attachment missing

The re-scheduled meeting of the School Board, now on March 31 (not last week, as it should have been), includes an earlier start time for the Regular Session. NOTE: If you want to be there at the beginning and want to speak, plan to arrive before 6:00PM.

The Executive Session will be held at 5:30PM, and the Regular Session will start at 6:00PM (not 6:30PM).

A significant omission from the agenda for the March 31 meeting is the attachment for revisions to Board Policy BEDH. Without that attachment, it is very hard to know what the Administration and the Board have up their sleeves for changes to the Public Participation board policy.

The Public Participation segment seems to be only a "courtesy" time allowed to members of the public. The board does not  respond to speakers at the meeting, and my experience has been that the board does not respond after meetings, either. The first segment is before the board addresses business on the agenda. The second segment could allow members of the public to comment of actions taken by the board at the meeting, but there are seldom any speakers slotted to the second segment.

Often the Chair announces that no one has signed up for the second segment, except that isn't how it works. There is no place of the required advance form to indicate a preference to address the board at the second segment.

What is the Board cooking up for revisions to Policy BEDH?

Usually the revisions to a board policy are attached to the agenda, so that the public is given notice of changes and has an opportunity to provide input. Not this time. Why not?

ALERT: At the April 7, 2020 board meeting a Public Input session will be held at 5:00PM. This likely has something to do with the budget, but no information is provided in the preview of the agenda.

Why does the board schedule a Public Input session for 5:00PM? Generally, few or no members of the public show up. The Public Input session remains open for 30 minutes, and then the Board disappears into Executive Session for 60 minutes. Generally, board members chat privately (even though it is an official meeting of a quorum of the board) or look at their phones. At 6:30PM the Regular Session on April 7 is scheduled to start.

Why doesn't the board schedule the Public Input session for 6:30PM and then continue right into the Regular Meeting? The Public Input portion could be part of the board meeting. If no one shows up, the board could move right into agenda items.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Any COVID-19 in Richland 2?

How many cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed among Richland 2 School District students, staff, employees or parents? Any?

Schools are closed. Where are the kids? Are the sequestered in their homes? Obeying the social-distancing recommendations? Do they really how serious today's circumstances are? Is each doing all that is necessary to contain the disease and avoid spreading it?

What has been the financial impact on families?

Who needs assistance and doesn't know how to get it?

The March 31st School Board meeting is still scheduled. Monitor the Richland 2 website for any cancellation.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Special-Called Board Meeting needed

On March 13, 2020, Richland 2 School District announced that "Beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, through Spring Break:
  • all student and staff travel will be canceled or postponed."

The District's schools have been closed by order of South Carolina Governor McMaster.

Obviously, what the announcement means is that "school-related and District-paid travel" as regards staff and "school-related/sponsored travel" by students. If students wish to travel on personal business, that will be up to their parents, not the school district.

Teachers and parents are being communicated with by the district's Administration.

It seems to me that the Board should be calling a Special Meeting to hear, as a group, what the Administration is doing and to confirm steps being taken by the Administration to address the closure of schools and the impact on the District and all of its employees from the coronavirus spread, as well as providing correction and/or direction as needed. It's called Leadership.

It is the Board that is responsible to taxpayers and voters of the District, and the public is entitled to know just what is going on. The way that should happen is in a public meeting of the Board. For example, are teachers being paid? Is full-time staff being paid? What about part-time, hourly workers (cafeteria staff, custodial staff, security staff, bus drivers)?

This could easily be done by announcing a Special Meeting, open to the public and live-streamed, with full awareness of the open meetings laws, and at the same time encouraging the public not to attend in person.

Board members could sit six feet apart from one another, skip the Executive Session, and reduce the number of staff members who normally give up an evening to sit and watch. A handful of chairs could be placed for any audience members brave enough to show up at a public meeting.

The Board is responsible for about one billion dollars of assets, nearly 30,000 students, and over 3,000 employees. 

Too many on the board lack executive mentality for leading a large business. Some of them cannot even manage their own finances in an ethical manner. Too many come from an educational background and lack meaningful business experience and training to direct the management of such a large business.

Think large corporation. Would shareholders tolerate Directors with significant personal obligations in arrears?

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Arithmetic Errors pursue McKie

Amelia McKie has trouble filing required reports with the Ethics Commission on time and filing them correctly.

As mentioned in the previous article, she said in a public meeting of the Richland 2 School Board (in January 2019, I believe) that it wouldn't happen again. I understood her to be telling the public that she'd be filing future required reports on time.

Campaign Disclosure Reports due to the South Carolina Ethics Commission are to be filed quarterly. However, McKie's reports for 4/10/2019, 7/10/2019, and 1/10/2020 were filed late.

Her Report due 10/10/2019 was filed on time, and she amended it on 3/4/2020.

On the Amended Report she reports $250.00 in "individual funds" contributed to her campaign. Now, what would cause her to "remember" that contribution five months later? And why didn't she report it correctly and on time?

The next obvious problem (obvious to anyone with a rudimentary skills in arithmetic) is why does she have less money on-hand than was reported in October 2019?  If she received a contribution of $250.00 and didn't incur additional expense (which she didn't), wouldn't she have more money on-hand?

But that's not what her filed Reports show. Her amended report corrected an unexplained error in the original report, but it did not correct the errors that occurred earlier in 2019. Those errors still exist.

This leads me to decide that the Ethics Commission doesn't examine the reports when they are filed. It looks like the Ethics Commission just accepts them as filed.

Then it's up to someone, somewhere, to inspect the reports and alert the Commission to the errors.

The magic of computers ought to make it easy to confirm sums and differences; you know, basic arithmetic calculations. Flags ought to pop when numbers don't agree. But they don't.

Financial Integrity - how important?

How important should the personal financial integrity of School Board Trustees be?

Should it be squeaky clean? Above reproach? Should all Trustees be keeping very high standards of personal financial integrity?

And what happens when they don't?

Well, if you're a Richland 2 School District trustee, apparently nothing happens.

For insight to this question, refer to the South Carolina State Tax Lien Registry at dor.sc.gov/liens  Search the Lien Registry for "Individual".
Enter the name of your favorite trustee and inspect the results.

A second place to look is the list of Debtors on the website of the South Carolina Ethics Commission at ethics.sc.gov  Near the top right of the homepage click on "Debtors". After you read about the (unsuccessful) efforts of the Ethics Commission to squeeze payments out of the debtors, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "Debtors List (PDF)"

The Ethics Commission apparently has trouble alphabetizing names, because it has put McK before Mah. Look for Amelia McKie. Her $51.750 debt shows a Default Year of 2016. That was halfway through her first term as a trustee. You would have to read the Commission's Decision & Order dated July 3, 2018 to get the whole picture.

When McKie had not made any payment toward her debt, in July 2019 the Ethics Commission filed a judgment with the Richland County Common Pleas Court (Case No. 2019CP4003809). You can inspect the court entry here.

The South Carolina Department of Revenue is the collection agent for the Ethics Commission. Apparently, it's pretty busy, because no entries appear in the court record after July 2019.

Is it any wonder that the List of Debtors on the Ethics Commission website, dated 1/13/2020, is 28 pages long and that the uncollected amount of debt is $2,762,979?

McKie's debt isn't the largest or the oldest. I think it was in January 2019, after her ethics' woes were reported publicly, that she said it wouldn't happen again. She meant "filing late" wouldn't happen again. Yet it did! She filed Campaign Disclosure Reports late not once, not twice, but three times! The Reports due 4/10/2019, 7/10/2019, and 1/10/2020 were filed late.

She did file her 10/10/2019 report on time (10/10/2019), but she amended it on 3/4/2020. See the next article about her amended Campaign Disclosure Report, filed 3/4/2020, for her Report filed on 10/10/2019.

Maybe someone should ask Gov. McMaster why the DOR isn't doing a better job collecting these debts?

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Schools closing

A media announcement today alerted me to the closing of Richland 2 schools.

Read all about it here.

Gov. McMaster has ordered all 1,250 South Carolina public schools closed.

Now, here is the crazy part. Schools have become caregivers and providers for students, and Richland 2 schools will be providing bagged breakfast and lunches that can be picked up at a number of schools. Those school are listed in District 2's announcement.

A high percentage of Richland 2 students receive meals. Of course, the meals must be picked up, which will create a huge problem for parents who are working.

The schools never should have gotten in the free breakfast and free lunch business. This Federal program is a disaster for creating independence. Kids should eat breakfast at home and either bring lunch or have the money to buy lunch.

Maybe if kids gave up their Air Jordans and cell phones and tattoos and piercings and bling, they'd have the money for food. Think so?

Saturday, March 14, 2020

March 24th walk-out canceled

The State newspaper is reporting that the SC for Ed walk-out planned for March 24 has been postponed or canceled, due to concerns about the coronavirus.

On Friday morning reporter Bristow Marchant wrote that the march at the Capitol was "postponed". Well, we'll see. Maybe it was really canceled.

I'm curious how a gang of teachers can get in contact with the CDC and DHEC. What kind of "consultations" did they engage in?

SC for Ed (some unnamed person) was quoted as saying, “While we are committed to advocacy on behalf of our profession, the number one concern is the health and well-being of the students we teach,”

Yeah, sure. It's all for the kids, folks. If you believe that, please call me right away about that bridge in New York City I've been trying to sell.

If it really was "all for the kids", the teachers would be at work and teaching the kids on the day planned for the walk-out.

Friday, March 13, 2020

SC for Ed walk-out, March 24

At the March 10 Richland 2 School Board meeting there was absolutely ZERO discussion at the Board level about the teacher walk-out planned for March 24.

If you would like to hear what I told the Board about this on March 10 at the board meeting, go to YouTube.com and view the March 10 Board Meeting. Advance the counter to 0:26:17 for my remarks to the Board about the March 24th SC for Ed walk-out.

What will happen in Richland Two on March 24? Will it be like last year? Richland 2 said it wasn't going to close and, then, the day before May 1, 2019, Richland 2 caved. It just could not fill 600 teaching positions that were going to be empty because so many teachers took "personal days".

This year one school district has already caved in. Chester County School District has announced that classes have been canceled for March 24.

Contact your school's Principal AND Supt. Davis to express your opinion. Teachers are under contract to work. That's what they get paid to do.

There is no infringement on their right to express personal opinions to their legislators, and they should do so - on their own time.

Last year the District never reported its loss for that walk-out. Nor did it report on the disruption to families, when students were not allowed to attend school. This forces many parents to take days off or hire baby- or child-sitters.

Tell your child's teacheres to write letter, send email, make telephone calls (after school hours), visit their legislators after school hours, and NOT to discuss their walk-out in the classrooms.

A teacher is allowed a certain number of personal days during the school year. These are for medical and dental appointments, etc. When 600 teachers take the same day as a "personal day", that's a walk-out, a work slowdown, a strike.

The Board should have directed the superintendent to order the teachers to be at work. It didn't. Maybe it's time for a new board. Remember them in November, when three Board positions will be elected.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Why isn't school district addressing possible teacher walk-out?

SC for Ed will descend on the legislators on March 24. That's only two weeks from now.

I watched for publication of the agenda for the March 10th school board meeting, expecting to see an item for Executive Session and an item in the Regular Session to discuss the very real possibility of a teacher walk-out on March 24. As of 5:30PM yesterday, the published agenda had not been revised to show such items.

And my open letter to the board? Nary a response.

Remember last May 1, when so many Richland 2 teachers requested "personal days" that Richland 2 School District caved in at the last moment and closed all schools for the day? The District never announced what the cost was to the District or the estimated cost to part-time employees and parents.

This created havoc for parents and employers, when moms and dads had to take a day off from work, virtually without notice to their employers, so that they could be responsible parents to their children who would be out of school.

What will happen this year?

Will Richland 2 teachers say "Thanks for the $1,000 bonus. We will be at work on March 24 and will not be walking around the Capitol Grounds in our red t-shirts"?

Raise your hands. Do you think that will happen? Get in line. (It'll be the short line to the right.)

Who, me? Cynical?

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Superintendent to be away during SC for Ed walk-out

Supt. Baron Davis will be in California later this month, when SC for Ed is expected to walk out on March 24.

He'll be speaking on Monday, March 23, at a conference put on by the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools and co-hosted by the Compton and one other USD (its website is out-of-date and does not list the March 2020 conference!). No doubt he could, if he wanted to, hop on a plane and fly back to Columbia in order to be the Face of Richland 2 and enforce an order to the teachers to be at work on March 24 or lose their jobs.

With the COVID-19 scare creating panic and havoc in the U.S.A. (and elsewhere), will he be self-quarantined upon return? Will District 2 pay him almost $1,000/day to sit behind closed doors at home after he returns?

Should he tell the conference that he won't be there and, instead, will be here to personally direct handling of SC for Ed?

What did the 2019 Red for Ed walk-out cost taxpayers? And what collateral costs did parents and employers face, when moms (and dads?) had to suddenly take a day off to care for children, while their teachers were parading around the capital with their red shirts on?

Open Letter to Board re SC4Ed

On March 24 SC4Ed is planning its 2020 rally and will descend on the State House to try to force its will on South Carolina legislators and the people of South Carolina.

We know what happened last year. Richland 2 wasn’t going to close and then, at the last minute, Richland 2 folded.

This year’s march is announced on short notice, but there is time for Richland 2 to act.
Remember Nancy Reagan’s words on September 14, 1986? “Just say No”
Well, Just. Say. No.

Most of you on the Board supported last year’s walk-out and disregarded the expense and waste to the District and the disruption to students and their working parents.

This year you have a chance to get it right. Direct the superintendent to grant NO requests for absence on March 24 which, according to the District 2 calendar, is the end of the third nine weeks and likely a day full of tests for students.

You just gave the teachers $1,000. This is how they say “Thank you”. I predicted there would be no value to Richland 2 for the hand-out. They got the money. They spent the money. Now they say, “What are you going to do for me now?”

Here’s what you do for them now. You tell them – “You take March 24th off, and you will face discipline up to and including immediate termination.”

They have a contract to work. They get paid for fulfilling their end of the contract. 
Don’t let them trample you like they did last year. Don’t make any inane statements to them from your board chairs, such as “We support you.” You employ them. That’s what you do.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Weapons at three Richland 2 schools on March 2

On Monday a Richland 2 Westwood High School student was arrested for taking a gun to school, according to an article by The State reporter Noah Feit published today, March 3, at 8:38AM.

I mean, how stupid do you have to be to take a gun to school? And then to pull it out of a backpack during lunch, so that another student could see it?

Of course, this student is under 17 and privacy laws (don't you just love them?) prevent the District and The State newspaper and the Richland County Sheriff's Department from identifying the jerk.

No doubt that word is percolating around school as to who that student is. The State provides a clue when the reporter wrote "...bringing a gun to his high school..."  How did the reporter learn that the student was male? or did he? Perhaps the reporter just used the editorial "his" in his article.

Should laws be changed? Do parents, other students, teachers, administrators, neighbors, friends, enemies have the right to know what 15-year-old is "packing"?

Westwood High School is located at 180 Turkey Farm Road in Blythewood.

A different article, by The State's Travis Bland, reported a 16-year-old at Westwood High School with a knife and a box cutter in his backpack.

And Bland's article reports a 13-year-old at Summit Parkway Middle School with a BB gun.

And a 12-year-old at Dent Middle School with a pellet gun.

If you know anyone who can identify these kid with the weapons, I don't have any problem with publishing their names. If I were the parent of a student at Westwood High School or any Richland 2 school, I would certainly want to know who these kids are. Let me know. I'll confirm it and post names here.

Maybe I missed the announcement from District 2 to media about this. I receive many emails in a day, and I don't recall seeing it. On the other hand, maybe the District didn't notify media about it.

Did the Board know about it last night?

Do we need to ask at every Board meeting, "Did anyone take a gun or other weapon to a Richland 2 school in the past two weeks?"

Bulletproof glass?

During the bond update at the February 25, 2020 school board meeting staff member Will Anderson mentioned that "specially-formatted glass - ballistic glass" is yet to be delivered to three schools.

Bulletproof glass?

He didn't mention where it will be installed. Isn't that a good question? Will it be at the front entrance, where the gatekeeper sits and admits visitors?

Do you know what the risk is for a student to be killed by a gun in a U.S. school?

That number is 1 in 614,000,000. In other words, infinitesimal. There is a better chance that a kid will choke to death on a PB&J sandwich. And, no, I don't have a statistic for that.

Somebody intending harm in a school is not going to waltz in the front door, show his driver's license, get his name badge, wish everyone a good day, and stroll on down the hallway to wreak havoc. He'll get in a back door, where some kid will hold the door for him or open it to a knock.

So, where is the bulletproof glass to be installed?

Public cautioned not to name board members

When the public participation segment of the February 25, 2020 board meeting was introduced, Chairman Manning reminded the speaker, as she approached, not to mention the names of any staff members or board members.

I can appreciate that he might not want the public to criticize any staff members, because staff is not going to get an opportunity to respond.

But to limit the public from mentioning elected board members is an incorrect instruction.

How else can members of the public call attention to wrong-doing by a board member?

A letter or email or phone call to someone (board member) will not gain any public attention.

The only place to do it is at a board meeting.

For example, there are two women on the board who have never taken the oath of office legally. They did take the oath of office on November 13, 2018, but that was before they became eligible to do so. They had not filed their Statements of Economic Interest (SEI) with the S.C. Ethics Commission.

State law is clear. First you file the SEI; then you take the oath of office.

Each filed her SEI on December 4, 2018. Neither Amelia McKie nor Teresa Holmes has taken the oath of office since filing her SEI. To become a full-fledged, bonafide, legitimate member of the board, each needs now to take the oath of office.

And then there is the question of Amelia McKie's $51,750 debt to the S.C. Ethics Commission. A judgment was filed in Richland County Common Pleas Court in July 2019.

Should this "premier" School Board have a person on it who 1) has never legally taken the oath of office and 2) owes $51,750 to the S.C. Ethics Commission?

Where will the public bring that up, if not at a board meeting?

Two trustees missing on 2/25/2020

Why would two trustees on the Richland 2 School Board miss the February 25, 2020 Regular Meeting due to "prior engagements"?

Teresa Holmes (actually, "trustee-elect", because she has never legally taken the oath of office since December 4, 2018) and James Shadd missed the February 25th meeting.

Isn't it their obligation as elected officials to be present? They have known about the date for this scheduled meeting for months. It should have been on their calendars first. Did they miss the meeting because of an engagement scheduled prior to the announcement of the 2019-2020 School Year Meeting Schedule?

If the possible conflict arose after the Calendar was published, then wasn't it their obligation to decline the conflicting event?

And isn't the public entitled to know what the "prior engagement" was? They were elected to be in their seats and ready to address school district business.

Do absent trustees still receive $450 (one-half of the monthly compensation) for the missing meeting? Or do they forfeit the $450 for the meeting they missed?