Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Error in June 20 Retreat Minutes

There is a significant error in the Minutes for the June 20, 2020 Board Retreat Minutes. The Minutes are attached to the agenda for today's Regular Board Meeting.

At the top of the Minutes is reported the Attendance. While the starting time of the Retreat is not reported, the notetaker for the June 20 meeting reported that all trustees, by name, were present.

However, the vote to adjourn to Executive Session was approved by only five trustees: Agostini, Manning, McKie, Shadd, Holmes.

Of course, this caused me to wonder why the names of Elkins-Johnson and Caution-Parker were not indicated for the vote.

Down a couple of lines, the notetaker reported that Elkins-Johnson and Caution-Parker joined the meeting during the Executive Session.

Will a Board member at the June 20th meeting ask that the Minutes be corrected?

Correct reporting would have been to note the times when they showed up.

The notetaker reported Holmes as being presented for the vote to enter Executive Session.

The Zoom panel showed only Holmes' name and not a live recording of her presence. The Chair should have told Holmes to start her video, so that the public and the other board members would know she was really present.

COVID-19 Update

At the May 26, 2020 school board meeting the superintendent reported that there had been no reported cases of COVID-19 among Richland 2 students or staff.

With the spike in cases in South Carolina, I wondered whether that was still the case.

At 4:28PM a Richland 2 parent called me to tell me that his wife had just received a broadcast email that the Supt. Davis has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Today's school board Zoom meeting started at 4:32PM and the board, as expected, went directly into Executive Session. There were 110 visitors on the District's site at 4:32PM. The board is expected to reconvene in public session at 5:00PM.

At 6:52PM The State newspaper reported that Supt. Davis had tested positive for COVID-19, receiving the test results today.

There was no mention of his test results during the board meeting.

After the board meeting I read the email from Supt. Davis, which the District emailed at 4:29PM, one minute before the scheduled start of the board meeting:

"Dear Richland Two Community,

I am writing to personally share that I tested positive for COVID-19 today, Tuesday, June 30, 2020. Over the weekend I started experiencing mild symptoms, including a sore throat and fever, and was tested on Sunday, June 28, 2020. Following the recommended guidelines, I will isolate for 10 days from the date of my test and until I am symptom free for 72 hours.

Prior to my diagnosis, I was taking every precaution possible, including wearing a mask, maintaining at least six feet from others and working remotely as much as possible. As a result, no district employees are considered to have been in “close contact” with me. According to S.C. DHEC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “close contact” is defined as being within six feet of someone for at least 15 minutes.

I feel it is important to share this news with all of you in an effort to be open and transparent as our community, state and country continue to deal with the pandemic. I urge you to take this virus very seriously because it can affect anyone.

My family and I are taking the necessary precautions to ensure our health and safety, and we appreciate your thoughts and concern during this time. Please keep yourself and your loved ones as safe as possible.

Dr. Baron R. Davis

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Board: Swear in McKie, Holmes

The Richland 2 School District has once again been asked to swear in Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes.

S.C. Code of Laws §8-13-1110 reads:
SECTION 8-13-1110. Persons required to file statement of economic interests.

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

There is nothing difficult to understand about the wording of that law. It is clear as day. It is indisputable.

That the law was violated by McKie and Holmes is a fact, because their notarized oath-of-office documents are dated November 13, 2018. They had not filed their Statements of Economic Interests. They didn't file their SEIs until December 4, 2018.

McKie and Holmes were qualified to serve as school board trustees, because they were elected. However, they were not eligible to serve until they filed their SEIs. They became eligible on December 4, 2018. That was the first date they could legally take the oath of office.

The following letter was sent to the board earlier today, with copies to the attorney for the school district, a FOIA/Robert's Rules of Order expert, the S.C. Attorney General, and the Deputy A.G. who examined my complaint last year.

Good afternoon, Mr. Manning,

As your final board meeting as Chair approaches for the 2019-2020 school year, will you please consider administering the oath of office to Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes, so that they will finally become legitimate members of the Richland 2 School Board. It is not too late to amend the agenda for the June 30, 2020 board meeting for this item.

On November 13, 2018, after they were elected, each took the oath of office before she was eligible to do so. Neither had filed her Statement of Economic Interests with the South Carolina Ethics Commission.

McKie and Holmes did not become eligible to take the oath until December 4, 2018, when each filed her SEI.. To the best of my knowledge and belief, the oath of office has not been administered to either on or after December 4, 2018. According to South Carolina law, they are usurping the official office of school board trustee.

There is a simple, quick and free remedy. Administer the oath of office to each. 

The District has paid compensation to them for trustee meetings, paid expenses on their behalf and may have reimbursed them for other expenses. These payments and expenses could constitute illegal disbursements of taxpayer and government funds. District employees who handle such disbursements could end up at risk for doing so.

As a school district desiring to be known as "premier", shouldn't this problem be corrected?


Gus Philpott

cc: Kathryn Mahoney
      Helen McFadden
      Alan Wilson, S.C. Attorney General
      Creighton Waters, S.C. Deputy Attorney General

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Agenda for June 30, 2020 Published

The agenda for the June 30th Board meeting was published this morning. The meeting starts at 4:30PM, with an immediate adjournment into Executive Session. The open meeting will reconvene at 5:00PM. The meeting will be held via Livestream (Zoom). Find the link on the District's homepage, where it is now posted. Or just click here: www.richland2.org/livestream

To examine the agenda, go to the District's website. Then
Click on EXPLORE (top right), then
Click on School Board; then
Click on AGENDA; then
Notice the Guidelines for Public Participation in Board Meetings *; then
Click on Regular Board Meeting; then
Click on View the Agenda

On the agenda for the Executive Session is the superintendent's evaluation. I imagine most of the board members will have their rubber stamps handy, because the agenda allows only 30 minutes for the Executive Session to evaluate the superintendent and conduct other Executive Session business.

Of course, they cannot approve the evaluation in the Executive Session. They will do that as part of Item 6.1. There should be a discussion of his performance. This is the place where they will reveal how big of a salary increase they will award to the superintendent this year. Last year's increase was a whopper.

* The "Guidelines for Public Participation in Board Meetings" are out-of-date, plus Board Policy BEDH was rescinded. The public is no longer allowed to participation in board meetings; not even remotely. It could, but the Board has shut out the public. And it gets away with it, because it never publicly announced what it had done.

I'll venture a guess that the public doesn't even know it can no longer address the board at meetings or suggest items to be added to the agenda.

The District has never altered or notated Board Policy BEDH to inform the public that it was suspended; i.e., suspended indefinitely, which might just be the same as permanently.

Open Letter to School Board

The following letter is being emailed on June 27, 2020 to the Richland 2 School Board, superintendent, and diversity chief.

To the Board and Trustees-elect McKie and Holmes,

Dr. Helen Grant's June 8, 2020 Open Letter, published on the District's website, refers to an anti-racism policy. She wrote, "We will move forward with drafting an anti-racism policy to make plain our commitment against racist actions, practices and procedures."

Has the Board approved development of an anti-racism policy?

If so, please direct me to the Board Meeting where this was on the agenda, was discussed and was voted on. What involvement will the parents and community members in District 2 have in development of this policy?

Dr. Grant also refers to "our Equity Policy." A search on the District website for "Equity Policy" produces no results. Please send me a copy of District Two's Equity Policy.

I wish to receive a reply to this message.

Friday, June 26, 2020

SHOCK!!!! Read Letter on District Homepage

While I was looking on the District's homepage for the starting time for the June 30th board meeting, I came across "An Open Letter" from "Dr." Helen Grant, District 2's Chief Diversity and Multicultural Inclusion Officer. She holds a JD degree.

What does Wikipedia say about the JD degree? "It has not been customary in the United States to address holders of the J.D. as "doctor". It was noted in the 1920s, when the title was widely used by people with doctorates (even those that, at the time, were undergraduate qualifications) and others, that the J.D. stood out from other doctorates in this respect.[208] This continues to be the case in general today.[209]"

But back to the Open Letter. By the time I finished the first sentence, my blood pressure was going through the roof.

The first sentence reads, "In the midst of celebrating the graduation of our Richland School District Two seniors, the Richland Two family is grieving for yet another Black life lost at the hands of police brutality."

It is? Why? What does Richland 2 family have to do with a death in Minneapolis? Absolutely Nothing. Not one single thing! I suspect that not one person in District 2 knew George Floyd. No, the Richland 2 family is not grieving.

George Floyd did not deserve to die the way he did. Those responsible will be held accountable.

And then the second sentence: "Mr. George Floyd is just the last name in a long list of names of Black men and women who are the victims of police brutality and social injustice."

Here we go again. Police brutality. Social injustice. Right out of the Black Lives Matter playbook.

Did the Board of Trustees approve that letter? Why didn't it come from the Board? Who did approve publication of that letter on the District's website? And why?

Now is a good time to present this video, which I just watched an hour ago. CNN's Don Lemon's guest was Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. When Lemon didn't like what Sheriff Clarke was saying, he cut him off and went to a break. That's CNN for you.

What Surprises Await Richland 2 Constituents?

Once again the Richland 2 School District failed to publish the agenda on Friday for the upcoming school board meeting on Tuesday.

The District used to publish the agenda on Thursdays, then on Fridays, for the upcoming meeting.

By law the agenda has to be published at least 24 hours prior to the meeting. If the June 30 meeting is to start at 4:30PM, then the agenda must be published by 4:30PM on June 29. That's Monday.

That also means that the public and even the school board trustees will have only 24 hours to prepare for the meeting.

For the public, there is nothing to prepare for. The public can no longer attend school board meetings. The board discontinued public meetings (in-person) and has failed to make arrangements for the public to speak at its virtual (Zoom) meetings. It would be simple to arrange that, but the board chose to suspend Board Policy BEDH, and that eliminated 1) public participation and 2) the public's privilege of requesting items to be added to the agenda.

Two board members have requested the superintendent to provide meeting materials, documents and background further in advance of a meeting than 24 hours. Has he done so? In many cases he has not.

The June 30 meeting is likely to start at 4:30PM. The link for the Livestream (Zoom) meeting can be found on the District's homepage. The first item will be an executive session. Then the public session will reconvene. Find the agenda on the District' website for the correct starting time.

Advise School Board Members re 2020-2021 Officers

To the Public:

You have a final chance to influence the Richland 2 School Board in its election of officers for the coming school year.

The Board will elect three officers at its next meeting on June 30. The officers are Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary. The officers must be selected from board members, and the officers are elected by the board members. Three trustees will serve as officers for the 2020-2021 School Year.

First, who should not be a board member? This will help you narrow your choice.

An officer should not owe a judgment of $51,750 in unpaid fines and penalties to the South Carolina Ethics Commission. This eliminates Amelia McKie.

An officer should not have multiple unpaid income tax liens against his business or himself. This eliminates James Shadd.

An officer must be a legitimate member of the board. This eliminates Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes. Neither has ever taken the oath of office after becoming eligible to do so on December 4, 2018.

McKie and Holmes did repeat the oath of office, improperly, before they filed their Statements of Economic Interests (SEI) on December 4, 2018. State law reads that the SEI is to be filed (first) and then the oath of office is to be taken. If they take the oath of office before Tuesday night's meeting, they will finally become legitimate members of the board.

An officer should have a history of actively participating in meaningful ways at school board meetings, by demonstrating attentiveness and organization. This eliminates Cheryl Caution-Parker.

Who is left?

Lindsay Agostini
Monica Elkins-Johnson
James Manning

There is the best slate. Contact the board members you know now and ask them to elect these three trustees as officers for School Year 2020-2021.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

What Does Black America Want?

Because of the high percentage of black students and families in the Richland 2 School District, I invite your attention right now to what Candace Owens has to say about "What Does Black America Want?"

As I watched this video, I thought "She is exactly right." Is she?

Please watch this video and comment below.

Black Lives Matter - a domestic terrorist group?

Is Black Lives Matter a domestic terrorist group?

Read this article about an interview by Martha MacCallum with Hawk Newsome, president of the Greater New York Black Lives Matter chapter.

MacCallum tells Newsome that he has said "that violence is sometimes necessary in these situations."

Read how he responds. He doesn't answer the question. Instead, he deflects and conflates.

The article reads, "I said," Newsome told the host, "if this country doesn't give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it. All right? And I could be speaking ... figuratively. I could be speaking literally. It's a matter of interpretation."

What is your interpretation of Newsome's words? I know what mine is, and I'm heading over to Academy Sports to buy more ammo.

Is there anyone (white or black) who will not be doing the same?

Then Newsome launches into the Second Amendment and black people "arming themselves and defending themselves". That's not violent or violence; it's smart. Every adult should own a firearm and know how to maintain and use it responsibly and lawfully.

Isn't is mostly businesses and neighborhoods of black men and women (and children) that are being destroyed by the looters, arsonists, violent protesters, anarchists? Why wouldn't a black person be prepared to defend his family, his own life and/or his own property? 

Join the new MeetUp group called Carolina Gun Club. The MeetUp group is associated with NAAGA, the National African American Gun Association. Read their information at www.naaga.co (not .com).

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

District's "Premier 100" Program

A racially-oriented program of Richland 2 School District is the superintendent's pet project, Premier 100. He wants to hire 100 "premier" men of color. A very brief report was presented by a staff person from the District's HR Dept., as part of the June 20, 2020 board retreat.

Frankly, the superintendent's pet project ought to be to hire the best 100 teachers he can - men or women, whatever color. When Richland 2 students graduate, they will enter a world where they are not 82% of the population, and they will need the talents and skills to navigate in the real world.

The HR person's comments start at 42:25 on the June 20, 2020 board meeting video.

At the board retreat Trustee Shadd, one of five black members of the seven-member board, asked (43:22) the superintendent and his staff person from HR how many had been hired as part of that program.

The staff person did not know. She said she didn't have the numbers right there in front of her. WHY NOT? This is not the first time that a staff person has not been prepared with the most basic information to answer a softball question from a Board member.

The responsibility for her lack of preparation falls entirely on the superintendent. He must have reviewed her preparation for the board retreat, and he should have been sure that she could answer anticipated questions. I cannot think of a simpler question that could have been asked. Blowing it off with a "We'll get back to you on that" should not be accepted by the board.

This board should direct the superintendent to make sure that his staff members are prepared. Otherwise, the board's time is wasted! The answer to Shadd's question is Zero.

The superintendent said he would provide information. Again he took over 200-300-400 words to say what could have been said in 10 words.

How can it be that the answer to Shadd's question was not right on her lips or known to the superintendent?

At 46:20 Teresa Holmes finally showed up - sort of. Her first words were heard after the start of the meeting. It was really impossible to know whether she had even attended all of the previous portion of the meeting, because she kept her video off. Was she sitting there in her jammies? The Board Chair should have instructed her to make herself presentable and turn on her video. The public is entitled to see in what state of readiness an elected member shows up at a meeting of the public body!

And all Holmes had to say were words of praise for the woman staffer from the HR Dept. The Board Chair should take care of that.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Who Runs Richland 2 School District?

The School Board held a retreat on Saturday, June 20, 2020. After a lengthy executive session to discuss the superintendent's annual evaluation, which was not broadcast, the Board reconvened in open session.

Attorney Kathryn Mahoney was present for the executive session but not for the open session. The Board failed to acknowledge her presence before the executive session. Caution-Parker was not present for the beginning of the executive session, and no mention was made later of her presence or absence during the executive session.

The first item of business in the open session was a discussion about board requests of Administration for information. Manning said that a(n unnamed) Board member had brought up "fairness" and how the board gets information from the Administration, and so he (Manning) had worked with the superintendent and the attorney for the school district to look at policies and how things are done in other districts and when the board or the superintendent can ask for information and "how that works".

Manning then referred to a policy "in front of" the board, except he realized it wasn't attached. The proposed policy had not been distributed to the board or to the public. Manning's comments were muddled and almost incoherent, as he stumbled through the explanation. Manning and the superintendent had (I would call it "conspired") to come up with a policy to be presented to the board, without any prior discussion by the board or direction from the board to do so.

Then Manning tossed to ball into the superintendent's court to discuss how the (proposed) policy is structured.

Let me stop right here - before I even listened to the rest of the discussion.

Trustees Agostini and Elkins-Johnson have often asked for information and reports from the superintendent; i.e., from Administration. They haven't always gotten them. Maybe they have never gotten them.

Who runs the School District? The BOARD is responsible for directing the District. The Board tells the superintendent what to do. It might "ask" him, but he should understand that it is telling him, not asking. He doesn't have a choice. And if he doesn't do what they tell him to do, then they ought to mark him down when it comes time for his evaluation and any recommendation as to a change in compensation and benefits.

The superintendent started off with, "It is structured in such a way that, if the Administration feels that the request is outside of what is ordinarily requested by the board, umm, that that would require the majority of the board to ask me for that information."

You'll want to listen for yourself as the superintendent stumbles through his explanation.

Basically, Manning and the superintendent are contriving to blindfold the board members and to keep them from getting information from Administration.

Admittedly, the board members should not be micro-managing operations. That is not their job. That is the superintendent's job.

But to create a policy like this that slaps handcuffs on the board members is Wrong.

During a meeting, when a board member makes a request, if the Chair feels that the member's request is excessive, then the Chair can say so at the time. And then he can ask the full board to consider the request. A nit-picky Policy for this is not needed.

The next question is, WHO authorized the Board Chair to initiate such a discussion with the superintendent and to authorize expenditure of staff time and resources (the expense of the attorney for the School District). No one did, because it was never discussed at a board meeting. The correct procedure would have been a motion at a meeting and, if approved, then the Board Chair would sit with the superintendent and begin to come up with a proposed policy.

Manning made a statement that was incorrect, when he said that such a policy would put in writing the way he feels the board should operate or the way they have all discussed the way they would operate. ONLY they haven't discussed it!!! Why didn't anyone challenge him?

There is nothing within the operations of the District that can be withheld from the board.

Trustee Agostini mentioned that the Board did not have the proposed policy in front of it. Why wasn't it attached to the agenda??? Later that was explained.

Manning moved into the territory of defending the superintendent, rather than of leading the board. He is one of the seven equal board members (except there aren't even legally seven, but that's for another day (again)).

Finally, the superintendent and Manning clarified that this was not a First Reading of a proposed policy. They clearly did not have their ducks lined up about how this was going to be presented.

Caution-Parker virtually accused Agostini and Elkins-Johnson of being on a "power trip" of thinking the superintendent answered to them. That has never been the case, and any reasonable person would wonder why Caution-Parker woke up and became so angry about this.

Why did Shadd replace his live-feed with his blank ID without briefly excusing himself from the meeting? Did he take a bathroom break? Why did Caution-Parker vanish during the discussion? Does she need to buy a more-reliable internet signal for her home?

Elkins-Johnson made an impassioned plea for respect and cooperation between board members. She said it very nicely, unlike the previous combative comment made by Caution-Parker.

The superintendent then provided the example that triggered the proposed policy. A Trustee had requested a specific email from him to staff. The Trustee's request was absolutely appropriate, and then he launched into a smoke-and-mirrors dodge.

The problem is that this board is abdicating its responsibility of Leadership, Authority and Responsibility. And they should not let the superintendent get away with using 500 words to say something that could be said in 15 words.

He asked what the "line" is for asking for information, Well, the Board will tell him what the line is; he doesn't get to draw the line. Not even for $230,000/year he doesn't get to draw the line. The Board employs the superintendent; not the other way around.

Manning then asked if any board member would be against preparation of the proposed policy that was under discussion.

Wait just one minute! That is not how the Board makes decisions!!!

Unfortunately, everybody clammed up. And with that silence, the Chair decided to go forward.

And that took up the first 23½ minutes of the retreat. What a waste of time!!!

Why wasn't Teresa Holmes live on this video-conference? Was she really there, or did she just sign on and go back to sleep? Her video-feed needed to be on, or the Board Chair should have asked the board for approval for her to attend without showing her face. She didn't say a word. Was she really there?

If anything of interest to the public was addressed in the remaining hour and 14 minutes of the retreat, I'll write about it in a subsequent article.

Monday, June 22, 2020

What Happened in Ferguson, Mo. on 8/9/2014?

Do you know what really happened in Ferguson, Mo. on August 9, 2014? Really?

I grew up in University City, Mo., which is about seven miles south of Ferguson. So I can say that I know a little about Ferguson. But the Ferguson I knew then is not the Ferguson of today or the Ferguson of 2014.

Because of my law-enforcement background I started asking myself questions right away. I wanted to learn as much as I could about what happened. I was immediately skeptical of the stories I heard. I was not surprised to hear to the burning and looting in Ferguson or the wild claims of police brutality or racial injustice. I just didn't believe them then. Or since.

As more information came out, I believed even more strongly that Michael Brown was a thug and a criminal. Nothing has changed my mind.

Today PragerU released a five-minute video, titled "The Ferguson Lie". Larry Elder, a 68-year-old American libertarian talk show host, author, attorney, and documentary filmmaker. Oh, and he's black.

Watch this video and think about all the lies you have heard for more than five years. Lies that still fuel the Black Lives Matter movement and wrongfully influence people, young and old.

A cop's life and career were destroyed by BLM and the media. Much like the destruction of a cop's life right here in Columbia after the incident at Spring Valley High School, even though no one died.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Public Participation at online board meetings?

The Richland 2 School District decided to throw out public participation at board meetings, blindly swallowing the suggestion of the South Carolina School Boards Association.

Rather than considering what was good for Richland 2 and its constituents, the board took the easy, and wrong, path. It just suspended Board Policy BEDH. Not temporarily, as it did in March. It suspended it. Period. As in completely. Permanently? Only time will tell.

And then the District didn't even bother to notate on the Board Policy that it had been suspended or to remove the 3-page Public Participation Guidelines still found on the page that leads to the agenda for its semi-monthly meetings.

What could the Board have done?

It could have adopted an organized online public participation segment, allowing speakers to address the board for up to three minutes via Zoom or telephone.

The City of Arlington, Virginia held a long public participation session yesterday during a Saturday City Council meeting. Speakers had three minutes to voice their opinions. Speakers were well-organized and tight with the prepared comments.

Mayor Wilson did a great job controlling the public participation segment. He announced the name of the next speaker and the names of the next three speakers, so they could be ready. Most speakers confirmed that their voices could be heard. The moderator kept all muted except the announced speaker. There were no delay and no fluff between speakers.

It got out of control at one point in the afternoon, when a Councilwoman asked questions of one speaker. That speaker, a member of the House of Delegates, then monopolized the platform with his point of view and without regard to the three-minute limit. Then he was asked successive questions. The Mayor erred when he allowed the continued Q&A by the Councilwoman and that participant.

The Richland 2 School Board could allow public participation. If enough voters and parents ask for public participation to be restored, the Board will do it. Sending emails into the black hole of District Administration won't work, because there is no pressure of big public numbers.

Has anyone received replies to emails sent to the Board?

Friday, June 19, 2020

True State of Ethics in State

In an article in the June 18, 2020 online edition of The State newspaper, a well-known expert on ethics had this to say: “I think a lot of (elected officials) just don’t give a s***,” said Crangle. “Ethics is not a priority in South Carolina. It never has been.”

John Crangle was Executive Director of South Carolina Common Cause for many years and published Operation Lost Cause in 2015. It's about South Carolina legislators who violated the trust of those who elected them and about some who went to jail for it. A copy of Crangle's 600-page book is available at each Richland County Library. When I checked it out last year, it appeared I was the first to open it.

When I read Crangle's comment, I could not help but think of two people on the Richland 2 School Board.

One has owed $51,750 in fines and fees to the S.C. Ethics Commission and hasn't paid a penny in two years. She has a judgment against her in that amount, filed in July 2019 in the Richland County Common Pleas Court. Why isn't she paying it off?

The other is an attorney with multiple tax liens for numerous business and personal taxes. 

Are these people who should be serving on a school board and responsible for managing millions of dollars in assets and revenues?

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Election of Officers - June 30

One of the most important meetings of the Richland 2 School Board will be held on Tuesday, June 30.

At that meeting the final action of the Board will be to elect the Officers for the 2020-2021 School Year. The officers to be elected are Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary.

Each is an important and responsible role. An officer of the school board must be a member of the Board. The unstated requirement is that an officer must be a legal member of the school board.

Since November 13, 2018 the Richland 2 School Board has done business with two women sitting as if they are board members. The fact is that neither is a legal member of the board.

Both Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes took the oath of office on November 13, 2018, before they were eligible to do so. They became eligible to take the oath upon filing their Statements of Economic Interests with the South Carolina Ethics Commission on December 4, 2018. Neither has legally taken the oath of office on or since December 4, 2018.

In spite of this irregularity, District 2 has allowed them to serve and has paid them monthly remuneration for doing so. The District 2 has also paid expenses for functions as if they were board members. By doing so, the District has expended public funds not in accordance with policies and laws.

Holmes served, improperly, as Vice Chair during the 2019-2020 school year; that term of office ends June 30, 2020.

Neither McKie nor Holmes is eligible to serve as an officer of the school board for the 2020-2021 school year.

Shadd should be ineligible to serve as an officer because of his numerous tax liens and unpaid tax indebtedness.

That leaves four possible Trustees for the three officer positions: Manning, Agostini, Elkins-Johnson, and Caution-Parker.

Watch carefully to see how the board acts on June 30.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

R2 Students Can Learn from the Death of Rayshard Brooks

Rayshard Brooks, 27, died in Atlanta on June 12, 2020. He didn't have to die.

Richland 2 students of all ages and races can learn from his death. And should learn from it. And they should learn to separate the "wheat from the chaff". Instead of making an immediate emotional decision about what you think happened, take it apart. Understand exactly what did happen.

And understand exactly what is wrong with the media reporting non-stop about it. And understand what the exact cause of the resulting violence is.

Why did Brooks die?

He resisted arrest.
He fought with two officers.
He disarmed one officer of his taser.
He fled with the officer's taser.
He fired the stolen taser at the officers who were chasing him.

Brooks' actions resulted in his death.

Watch the 20-minute video, not the 2-min. one on CNN.

The officer was polite to Brooks. Brooks was calm, until he realized he was being arrested. Are reports correct that he was on probation or bail and had been court-ordered to stay out of trouble?

Is DUI (a BAC of .108) staying out of trouble? Was he headed to jail for violating the terms of his release, not just for the DUI?

Don't be influenced by the Brooks' family mouthpiece. He is just doing what lawyers do. They plead their case in the media. He'll sue for $20,000,000 (40% contingency fee (commission)) and the City of Atlanta will roll over and pay.

Now, do you, students, need to worry about getting shot by police?

If you don't do stupid stuff, the answer is No. If you do stupid stuff but straighten up when the cops grab you, the answer is No. If you do dumb stuff, like fight with cops, disarm them, run, shoot at them? Yep, you'll probably die.

Use your education. Use your brains. Just be as smart as you can, and you'll live to a ripe, old age.

NOTE: At 6:30PM, hours after I wrote the above, I read this newspaper article in The Augusta Chronicle. I suggest you read it.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Open Letter to Board about Politics

The following letter has been sent to the Richland 2 School Board.

What do you think? Should the superintendent get a pass on this? Please comment below.

Mr. Manning, Board Members, and Trustees-elect McKie and Holmes,

I am writing to register a formal complaint about remarks made by Supt. Davis at the June 9, 2020 Regular Meeting of the Richland 2 School Board.

At 44:50 in the YouTube video-recording of that meeting Supt. Davis said, "Congratulations to our school board vice chairperson woman, Dr. Teresa Holmes, on her election as a delegate to the 2020 Democratic National Convention in August. The Democratic Party is scheduled to convene in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to formally nominate the next president and vice-president of the United States."

First of all, I object to his making a partisan statement during his official duties at the meeting.

Secondly, he was inaccurate. The DNC will not "formally nominate the next president and vice-present of the United States," in spite of that language on the DNC website. The DNC will select the Democratic nominee for the offices of POTUS and VPOTUS.

I request the board to admonish the superintendent regarding his partisan statement and to make a public statement at the next school meeting to assure the public that the School Board operates in a non-partisan manner.


Gus Philpott

Sunday, June 14, 2020

R2 Trustee Shadd owes $50,000 in tax liens

I was catching up on my newspaper reading tonight. Look what I found!

The Independent Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County newspaper published an article on June 11 about tax lien debts of Richland 2 School Board member James Shadd. Read that article by clicking here.

Shadd owes personal and law-practice back taxes. You can read the breakdown in Michael Smith's article.

These three sentences in The Voice really tell it all.

"Shadd said he’s working to resolve the tax liens, calling them a 'personal matter.'
“'I am actively working to make sure that I take care of those matters,' he said.
"Shadd didn’t think owing $50,000 in unpaid income taxes impedes his ability to vote on multi-million dollar budget matters."
Sometimes people get behind on their taxes for one year, maybe two.

Shadd's record ought to disqualify him totally from an elected position on the school board where, as he says, he is one of seven trustees directing the budget.

From my point-of-view, he is one of five legal trustees. Two women on the board have never taken the oath of office legally after becoming eligible to do so, and they never should have been allowed to serve on the board since their 2018 election. Those women are Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes.

McKie is infamous for her unpaid debt to the South Carolina Ethics Commission, which filed a $51,750 judgment against her in July 2019. The Ethics Commission recently indicated that McKie has made no payment toward her debt.

Shadd's term of office as School Board Trustee ends in November. Will he run for re-election?

Will it matter to the public that he hasn't paid taxes for a number of years. Should it matter?

Of course, it should matter. His opinion is that owing $50,000 doesn't impede his abiliity to vote. To vote, all he needs is the energy to press Yes or No on his school-issued tablet.

Being able to comprehend the important matters and make good decisions? Well, you be the judge.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Partisan Politics Allowed at Board Meeting

Is it appropriate for the superintendent, or any other official, to make partisan political statements at a school board meeting?

On Tuesday I thought I heard the superintendent do so toward the end of the June 9th board meeting. When the recording was published on YouTube this morning, I listened to his statement again. I had understood it correctly the first time.

Why didn't Chairman Manning interrupt him? Did he say anything to the superintendent after the meeting?

Supt. Davis said (at 44:50 in the YouTube recording), "Congratulations to our school board vice chairperson woman, Dr. .Teresa Holmes, on her election as a delegate to the 2020 Democratic National Convention in August. The Democratic Party is scheduled to convene in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to formally nominate the next president and vice-president of the United States."

Let me tell you to what, exactly, I object. The superintendent's wording as to just what the DNC will do at its convention. (For the record, I would be just as picky if he had referred to the RNC.)

The superintendent said that the Democratic Party will formally nominate "the next president and vice-present of the United States".

No, it won't. 

The DNC will nominate the Democratic Nominee for POTUS and VPOTUS. And that is substantially different.

Who else picked up on that careless but intentional reference by the superintendent? I say intentional, because the superintendent was reading his prepared remarks.

How do we teach students to be careful and exact in their words. We do it by Leading.

California Professor Suspended

Did you read about the California professor who was suspended for upholding the school policy on grading and exams?

Only in California; right? Wrong. This nonsense is sweeping the country.

Prof. Gordon Klein is at UCLA's Anderson School of Management, where he has taught for 39 years. Some would call that a lifetime.

He was suspended because he refused to grant students' demands regarding finals and course work. Apparently, students decided to spend their time protesting, instead of studying.

Everyone has a choice; right?

So Dean Bernardo slammed the good professor with a three-week suspension and called the professor's actions "troubling".

Some will say, "Well, that's just California." Except it isn't.

Just look closely at what is happening throughout the USA right now.

I said again this morning that this country is heading for a civil war. Is it? Are we going to let the mobs rule? Are you?

Saturday, June 6, 2020

School Board about to Transfer Property

The agenda for the June 9, 2020 school board contains an item regarding Transfer of Property. What property?

What's the secret? And what's the rush?

The board will discuss Item 2.2 Legal Matter regarding Transfer of Property in an Executive Session scheduled to start at 4:30PM.

Then, in the Open Session that starts at 5:00PM, the board will be asked to vote on Item 6.1, a Resolution - Transfer of Property.

There are no details whatsoever contained in the agenda or an attachment that would explain what this "Transfer" is.

Did the board members receive a complete description and background on the Resolution far enough in advance to give adequate consideration to the issue, raise questions and get answers?

Or will their first knowledge of it be sprung on them at 4:30PM.?

Will they have the backbone to have a full discussion in public and vote No on Tuesday night, in order to allow time for reflection and public input?

Why is the board being asked to vote on a first hearing on the Resolution? Is this Transfer something that should properly have public input?

So much for transparency from Richland 2!!!

Friday, June 5, 2020

George Floyd - hero? martyr? Really?

The world is going crazy right now over George Floyd's death. Riots, arson, assaults, batteries, mobs, killings, violent protests. And, yes, even a few peaceful demonstrations.

Why am I posting this video? Because Richland 2 school district has a very high percentage of black students and liberal viewpoints.

Watch this video. Candace Owens gets it right.

News is reporting that $13,000,000 has been raised - so far - in a GoFundMe account for George Floyd. Seriously?

I wonder how much has been raised for Capt. David Dorn in St. Louis. Oh, you don't recognize that name? Click on the link.

As this year's graduates of Richland 2 high schools set off into the world, what good will they do? Will they try to correct the damage that has been done by the "George Floyd Movement"? Can Richland County become the epicenter for sanity and spread out to create good and dispel the violence and separation being spewed by the mouthpieces in front of the cameras at Floyd's ceremony?

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Public Still Not Informed

On March 31 the Richland 2 School Board voted to suspend Board Policy BEDH until April 30. This policy is the "Public Participation at Meetings" policy. It explains how the public can comment at board meetings and it also provides the mechanicism by which the public can request an item or issue be placed on the agenda for a board meeting.

Where can you find Policy BEDH?

Go to www.Richland2.org
At the top right click on EXPLORE
Click on School Board

When BEDH was suspended temporarily on March 31, you the Public lost your voice. No longer would you be able to attend Board meetings and address the board for three minutes. No longer could you present topics to be placed on the agenda for a board meeting; subject to the consent of the Board Chair and the superintendent, of course.

The temporary suspension of BEDH ended April 30, 2020.

Then, on May 12 the Board decided to suspend BEDH - period. Indefinitely. Permanently. Forever. Unless, of course, it comes to its senses and restores it, or the Public files a legal action against the Board and demands it.

But the District has never properly informed the public. If you go to the Board Policies right now, you will see nothing that indicates that BEDH has been suspended.

Why not?

Is this a failure of transparency?

Could it be that the parents of 28,000 students would object?

Could it be that thousands of voters, including Amelia McKie's "26,000" who voted for her (as she so proudly stated at a past meeting) would rise up and say, "JUST YOU WAIT ONE DAMNED MINUTE!"

I can't do this alone, folks. If you care about Richland School District Two, you have to start paying attention and acting by getting involved.

One way you can do this is to contact the District AND make a comment below that you have done so. Otherwise, your communication will just be swallowed up in that grand edifice at 763 Fashion Drive, never to see the light of day.