Friday, July 31, 2020

Can you trust all-mail balloting?

Lately there has been a lot in the news about all-mail balloting. You know what that is, don't you? 

The election commissions would mail out ballots to all the people on the voting rolls. Who would get ballots? Dead people. People who moved but never revoked their previous voter registration. People in jail. People who have become ineligible to vote because of convictions for certain crimes. Mentally-infirm voters.

Can you trust the Post Office to even deliver the ballots TO the voters or to deliver the completed ballots to the election commissions?

On Monday I mailed a Certified Letter to James Shadd, Chair of the Richland 2 School Board. It was mailed on July 27 in the afternoon, and my expectation was delivery on Tuesday, July 28, before that night's board meeting. By 11:04PM it had reached the USPS Regional Facility,

Was it delivered on Tuesday, July 28? No.

July 29, 2020, 1:27 am
Departed USPS Regional Facility

July 30, 2020
In Transit to Next Facility

July 31, 2020, 10:30 am
Delivered to Agent for Final Delivery
Your item has been delivered to an agent for final delivery in COLUMBIA, SC 29223 on July 31, 2020 at 10:30 am.

What in the world is an "Agent"? Have the postal carriers been re-classified and given a raise? Do they work for Homeland Security now? Watch out. Here's comes a postage increase!

At least, it is now in the right ZIP Code for delivery to the District's office. Unfortunately, due to summer work hours there may be nobody at work today, and the "Agent" will have to return tomorrow and Monday. So, mailed on Monday; delivered the next Monday. Not bad, for $10.59.

Now what about your ballot that you decide to mail back? The one in the postage-paid envelope that will be sent with it (to avoid the "voter suppression" that Rep. Jim Clyburn talked about on July 10 with The State newspaper host). How certain can you be that your ballot will be delivered in time to be counted?

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Who will run for school board?

Monday, August 3, will be the first day of the two-week filing period to run for the Richland 2 School Board. Who will run?

Will Lindsay Agostini run again?

Will Monica Elkins-Johnson run again?

Will James Shadd run for re-election?

Can the community come up with a highly-qualified candidate to replace Shadd?

Throughout the school year Agostini and Elkins-Johnson have asked tough questions. Their questions illustrate that they show up at board meetings prepared to discuss the topics. They have read the board packets and have pondered issues. They frequently mention contacts from parents and community members.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Can Chair unilaterally adjourn meeting?

Newly-elected Board Chair James Shadd has adopted a change when arriving at the last item on an agenda. When it's time for a motion to adjourn, he has begun stating something to the effect of, "Seeing no opposition, we will adjourn."

While Shadd is Chair, he really is just one member of the board.

He doesn't "see" any opposition to adjourning, because he hasn't called for any opposition.

Does this follow the Robert's Rules of Order? It's past time for Attorney McFadden to come back to the Richland 2 school board for an additional training session regarding Robert's Rules.

Should he respect the other members of the board and ask for a Motion to Adjourn? One member would make the Motion; another would second it. He could ask for a hand vote. (Voice votes should not be requested in Zoom meetings.) That would take about 15 seconds.

In effect, he muzzles any board member who might wish to speak.

Why has he changed a long-standing procedure?

Saturday, July 25, 2020

LEAP Day - all week!

The Richland 2 School Board has announced a Special-Called Meeting for Tuesday, July 28, 2020. The only item on the agenda is approval of the 2020-2021 Revised Calendar for the school year.

The meeting will begin at 4:30PM and go immediately into Executive Session. The open meeting will re-convene at 5:00PM and will be live-streamed. Use this link to access the meeting on your computer:

NOTE 1: The District's homepage fails to provide the livestream meeting link.
NOTE 2. "Upcoming Events" on the homepage fails to list the special-called meeting.

Look at the revised calendar (Calendar D) carefully.

The orange fill for August 17-21 indicates Elementary and Middle School LEAP Days.
The red fill for August 24-28 indicates Teacher Work Days.

NOTE. The first day of school is Monday, August 31.
Then notice the holiday on Monday, September 7. That's Labor Day, of course.

What is a LEAP Day?

The South Carolina Department of Education has posted this information. The title for the posting includes a grammar example that, in many years of education and business, I have never seen:
Learn, Evaluate, Analyze, & Prepare (LEAP) Added Instructional Days
Pre- and Post-Assessment Requirements

I wonder whether anyone at the SCDE considered whether that is correct or agonized over the combination of comma and ampersand. Why not omit the comma?

Are the big-dollar honchos at the SCDE conscious at all of the cost of operting schools? Apparently not.

"Not all 4K–8th grade students in a district must be involved in all five learning preparation days. Those students deemed critical to attend, as well as how many days they will need to attend, should be determined based on the identified needs of students in a district."

Who decides which students do not have to show up for one or more LEAP Days?
Who does have to show up?
How does the District arrange transportation, teachers, staff and breakfast & lunch for those who are "critical"? Guess which ones won't show up?

Should the District should switch the weeks of LEAP Days and Teacher Work Days? Should school start August 24 for all students?

Thursday, July 23, 2020

More on Holmes' 7/21/20 Attack

Now that the July 21, 2020 school board meeting video has been posted to YouTube, it was possible to listen again to trustee-elect Teresa Holmes' vicious attack on Trustee Lindsay Agostini.

Mrs. Agostini had asked proper, intelligent questions about the proposed policy that was under discussion.

In his defensive response the superintendent had sniped at Mrs. Agostini.

At approximately 1:06:43 on the recording, Holmes jumped in with "Mr. Chaaaiiiiirrrrr."

Then she led off with how she had been sitting there and listening to "this" and she just "had to" say what she was about it say. First of all, she didn't have to say it, but she intended to.

Holmes proceeded down the path of its not being a board member's job to run the day-to-day operation of a school.

She neglected to comprehend that Mrs. Agostini had NOT tried to run the day-to-day operation of a school. Mrs. Agostini had asked for one email that was sent to staff that did not agree with a board decision on certain monies to be spend by the end of the fiscal year, June 30.

Such an inquiry is fully within the scope and duty of a Board Trustee.

But Holmes kept hammering away on something that Mrs. Agostini had not even done, and she said it louder and longer as if that would be sufficient to persuade the public that Mrs. Agostini had acted improperly.

And then Holmes, as had (trustee-elect) McKie at a recent board meeting, tried to lecture Mrs. Agostini on the role of a board member. My guess is that Holmes hasn't even read Board Policy BBA - Board Powers and Duties, where there are 11 topics enumerated as board powers and duties. It's far beyond selecting and retaining a superintendent.

Board Chair Shadd should have cut off Holmes. But he didn't. Why not? Because Holmes is one of the votes that put him into the Chair's seat for this school year. Shadd would do well to put a stop to the long, rambling, defensive statements by the superintendent (just answer the question in as few words as possible) and the back-biting by at least three of the board members toward to the "minority".

Richland 2 voters and taxpayers deserve to have knowledgeable people on the board. If the threshold for board election were "knowledgeable", at least three of them would be left in the dust on the side of the road.

McKie and $51,750 Judgment

On July 10, 2019 the South Carolina Ethics Commission filed a $51,750 judgment against (Richland 2 trustee-elect) Amelia McKie in Richland County Common Pleas Court.

This is July 23, 2020. What has happened in court in the past year?

According to online public records, absolutely nothing!

If you think that the Ethics Commission shouldn't "file it and forget it", contact the S.C. Ethics Commission at 803-253-4192. Or you can write. And call your State Senator and Representative and ask him to help the State collect that money. And call the S.C. Department of Revenue (DOR), which is supposed to be collecting it on behalf of the Ethics Commission.

What could the DOR grab? 1. Her pay from the Richland 2 School District. A garnishment would certainly look great on her C.V., wouldn't it?

2. How about her other income? Oh, you say, what other income?
3. Is there equity in her home that could be attached?
4. Does she have a car that could be sold?

That $51,750 didn't just pop out of the ground one spring day like an early flower.

McKie didn't file required documents in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. She had fair warning of fines and fees and still didn't make any payment(s).

If McKie began making monthly payments on that debt, with a plan to pay it off by the time her elected term ends in November 2022, she would have to pay $1.917 monthly! If she sought bankruptcy protection, would she be forced to resign from the school board? Could she even "resign", since she is not a legitimate member of the board?

But is the Ethics Commission really just a toothless public body, when it comes to collecting monies owned to it? The public Debtors List as of April 3, 2020 is 26 pages and totals $2,717,416.32.

The big question is why isn't the Ethics Commission either muscling the DOR to collect that money or hiring an outside collection agency to go after the debtors.

A request has been sent to S.C. Sen. Mia McLeod and S.C. Rep. Ivory Thigpen to find out from the DOR what steps it is taking to collect this debt and to let me know by August 7. It's not so much that I want to know, but I believe that you should know.

Who are the "babies"?

Near the end of the July 21, 2020 school board meeting trustee-elect Amelia McKie once again mentioned the "babies".

She said "rally around our babies", and then she said, "educate our babies".

About whom is she speaking? Is she referring to high school students? Middle school students? Elementary school students? Ask a third-grader how she feels about being a considered a "baby" by a school board trustee.

Is Richland 2 in the daycare business?

That meeting was not the first time she has referred to Richland 2 students as "babies".

Every time it happens in the future, there should be a loud roar from the parents, teachers, other staff and the community that those being educated by Richland 2 are students.

What does calling the boys and girls, and young men and women, of Richland 2 "babies" have to say about the emotional growth and development of McKie? What kind of counseling or coaching does she need? Has even one of the other trustees or the superintendent said, "You know, Amelia, calling our students :babies" is demeaning"?

If Teresa Holmes wants to be offended by something, as she claimed at the July 21st meeting, let her be offended by "babies".Holmes is a high school counselor and loves to call herself "Dr. Holmes." Of course, Teresa and Amelia are best buds. Weren't they in the "in group", the Squad, that elected the officers for the 2020-2021 board by a pre-arranged vote?

Is Holmes offended by McKie's judgment in Richland County Common Pleas Court for $51,750 owed to the South Carolina Ethics Commission?

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Is Proposed Policy BEDGA even Legal?

There was a robust discussion about proposed Policy BEDGA at yesterday's board meeting.

The two sharp trustees who pay attention to detail, Lindsay Agostini and Monico Elkins-Johnson (neither a member of the Squad) asked pointed questions.

Elkins-Johnson asked whether Richland 2 had created this proposed policy or if it had come from the South Carolina School Boards Association. Or if Richland 2's legal counsel (Kathryn Mahoney) had written it. Who thought it up?

The superintendent provided a long-winded, convoluted answer. He basically objected to the question.

Then Lindsay Agostini asked who had commissioned the proposed policy? (In other words, who authorized spending District money?)

The superintendent blinked and passed the buck to James Manning. He acknowledged that he had done so. It was clear that Agostini thought the Board should have discussed the topic of the proposed policy and then voted whether to authorize the Chair to engage the attorney for the District to proceed. And spend District money doing so. Instead, Manning just went forward.

There is no doubt in my mind that it was the superintendent who wanted this policy. He wants it so that HE can decide whether a board member's request for information is "reasonable". He forgets that he works for, and at the direction of, the Board.

Agostini asked if such a policy is legal and referred to an opinion of the South Carolina Attorney General. Manning said the attorney wrote it.

Agostini knew, and I agree, that just because the attorney wrote it doesn't mean it is legal.

Look how the superintendent is "bullet-proof" through this proposed policy.

If a board member makes a request and the superintendent doesn't like it, he will deny it. Then the board member must get the Board to approve her request, and then the superintendent will comply. The superintendent knows that a board member (ex., Agostini or Elkins-Johnson) will never get the majority of the board (Shadd, Holmes, McKie, Caution-Parker (even though Holmes and McKie are not even legitimate members of the board)) to approve over-riding the superintendent's denial (veto).

Voters will have a chance in November 2020 to retain Agostini and Elkins-Johnson (if they run for re-election) and replace Shadd. Voters may elect a wise, concerned, intelligent, management-oriented candidate (such as voters in Richland One did on December 31, 2019, when they elected Jonathan Milling), if such a candidate can be found. In November 2022 voters can dump McKie, Holmes and Caution-Parker, and then the Board can once again begin directing the District.

I can almost hear the thunk of the rubber-stamps hitting the bottom of the waste basket.

New Public Participation Procedure

The District's new Public Participation Policy worked pretty well last night. The District had collected 63 comments from the public, and they were read to the board by Libby Roof, Chief Communications Officer for the District.

Had the public been speaking, the first Public Participation segment on the meeting agenda would have allowed 15 minutes for comments and then a second 15 minutes toward the end of the meeting. Each member of the public could have read his/her comment, but the administration decided that the comments would be read.

How does that jibe with the official, written Policy? It doesn't.

Mrs. Roof did a great job of plowing through the comments. She identified the person who had submitted the comment and then read the comment. The submitted comments were shown during the meeting and will be given to the board members. I suspect the board will receive an electronic copy of the comments. This will mean that most board members will never read them.

Unfortunately, the images of the board members were not shown during reading of the comments. Thus, it was impossible to know whether they were paying attention  This should be corrected in future Zoom meetings. The images of the trustees should be visible during the entire meeting.

One member of the public had submitted several comments, which were combined. All comments, except one, were on the topic of schools re-opening.

Two board members will look at the comments and probably even print some of them. The others? Out of sight, out of mind.

How Long is a Moment?

Last night Board Chair James Shadd gave the public (and the board) fair warning of what is ahead during this school year of 2020-2021. He announced that he had appointed (Trustee-elect) Amelia McKie to handle the assignments of inspirational moments.

I immediately wondered why he would pass off such an important duty. Selection of who gives the inspirational moment can set the tone of the meeting. The Chair should set the tone.

Then, rather than merely introducing the speaker, McKie launched into a three-minute introduction of what was supposed to be an "Inspiration Moment". I expected McKie to end with, "And now I present to you, the next president of the United States".

While last night's speaker had accomplished much, she wasn't receiving an award from Richland 2. She was to give an inspiration moment.

One explanation of "moment" on the internet is:

"The length of a solar hour depended on the length of the day, which in turn varied with the season, so the length of a moment in modern seconds was not fixed, but on average, a moment corresponds to 90 seconds"

I recall writing about a lengthy inspirational moment that occurred on March 26, 2019. When I asked the District office recently (and I had a reason for asking) who had been the speaker, several staff members put their heads together and decided there had not been one - only a moment of silence. I knew that hadn't been the case, because I sat to the right and just behind the speaker. She had a soft voice and could not be heard in the room, and her "inspirational moment" went on and on. And I had written a blogpost about that the next day.

For perhaps the only time in history, the first portion of that meeting, through an error on someone's part, was not recorded.

But, back to "moment". The inspirational moment should be just that - a moment. It should be brief and direct. But perhaps that's too much to expect from educators.

Hopefully, James Shadd will tell Amelia McKie to do two things -

1. Keep her own introduction short; the speaker's C.V. is not needed; and
2. Tell the speaker she has 90 seconds.

Text and Email during board meetings

If you watch the video of yesterday's board meeting, keep your eye on Board Secretary Cheryl Caution-Parker.

Notice how many times, and for how long, she keeps her eyes down below the level of the camera on her computer. What could she be doing? Staring at her hands? At her lap? Studying the letters on her keyboard?

Reading text messages? Maybe?

Reading email on her phone? Maybe? Whose phone kept pinging during the meeting?

Use of electronic equipment, such as tablets and phones, is discouraged during board meetings, if not outright prohibited by Board Policy..

Of course, in the privacy of your home, there is no audience to catch you at it, except that evil camera of your own computer.

What is it that keeps a trustee from paying attention to incoming text messages and email? One word.


C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) is credited with having said (or written): "Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching."

Did she think no one would notice? That no one was watching?

"Squad" member attacks Agostini

During yesterday's Richland 2 School Board meeting, Trustee-elect Teresa Holmes felt it necessary to launch an attack on Trustee Lindsay Agostini.

Board Chair James Shadd should have interrupted her, but he didn't.

The attack occurred at about 1 hour 4 minutes into the meeting. Mrs. Agostini had asked a question during the discussion of proposed board policy BEDGA, which allows the superintendent to veto a request from a board member for information.

While the superintendent is fully capable of defending himself (if word-count is put on the scale), Holmes ran to his rescue. She said emphatically that the job of the board is to direct the superintendent and, if the board doesn't approve of what he does, it can fire him. What she didn't say is that the superintendent is safe in his position, because four of the trustees line up right behind him.

Holmes, like McKie, either has not read or fails to understand Board Policy BBA - Board Powers and Duties. That Policy illustrates 11 functions of the Richland 2 School Board, not just the hiring and firing of a superintendent.

Worse than that was Holmes' insulting manner toward Mrs. Agostini. Listen to her for yourself. It's right on the video, which will be published today or tomorrow. She wound up with what she hoped would be the grand-slam homer of the night, saying she found the previous remarks (by Trustee Agostini) "offensive".

It's a wonder that Holmes didn't rush away from her computer and run into her "safe space" at home. Where would that be? The bathroom? The dog house? The wine cellar?

Read Board Policy BC - Board Member Conduct.

One item there reads, "Work harmoniously with other board members without trying either to dominate the board or neglect one's share of the work."

Holmes' comment yesterday was definitely NOT an example of attempting to "work harmoniously".

Another item is "Vote and act in the board meetings impartially for the good of the district."

Holmes' sounding-off as she did was clearly a violation of the "act ... impartially".

And another item: "Represent the board and district to the public in such a way that promotes both interest and support."

Holmes gets an "F: on that!

Why didn't the Board Chair cut Holmes off?

Holmes forgets that she is not even a legitimate member of the Richland 2 School Board. She has never legally taken the oath of office.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Richland 2 Calendar in error

On the District's homepage is a listing of Upcoming Events.

At the bottom of the homepage, if you click on "21 JUL Richland Two Board Meeting", you'll see that the starting time for the meeting is 6:30pm. If you click on that time, you'll read that the meeting will be from 6:30pm-8:30pm at R2i2.

If you show up at R2i2 at 6:25pm, you'll find the parking lot empty and the building locked.

If you try to tune in online at 6:30pm, you will have missed the first 90 minutes of the meeting, because it actually will start at 5:00pm. Well, actually, it starts at 4:30pm and then immediately adjourns to Executive Session for 30 minutes.

The open session reconvenes at 5:00pm. This is when the public meeting begins.

Friday, July 17, 2020

District bombs on new Public Participation plan

How are your mind-reading skills? You are going to need them.

As the board prepared to vote on July 9 to re-instate Public Participation, Libby Roof, Chief Communications Officer for the District, explained (at 49:05 on the video-recording) that the public would be able to submit written comments by early afternoon on the day of the board meeting via a Google document that would become available when the notice of the board meeting was posted. Then the comments (up to three minutes per comment) would be read to the board during the meeting. The printed comments would be given to the board.

I came away from that meeting thinking there would be a link on the agenda that would take a reader to the comment form. That isn't how it will work. You must find the form on the District's website.

When I examined the agenda for the July 21st board meeting, I found nothing that would tell me where to find the comment form.

Late Friday afternoon, an email from the District to media contacts provided a link to the location of the Comment Form on the District website. Here is that link:

The big question is, how will a member of the public ever find that form? The District has made it unnecessarily difficult for the public by hiding the form on the website.

Where is it?
Go to the the District's website at
Click on EXPLORE
Click on School Board
Scroll down, fill out the form, and submit it by 1:00PM on the day of the board meeting

UPDATE: 7/18/20 3:35PM The District's homepage now shows that there is a process for submitting comments for Public Participation.

What's a KAREN? Part 2 carried this headline on July 17.

Chicago's Lightfoot calls White House's McEnany a 'Karen' after reported 'derelict mayor' slight

The FoxNews online reporter went on to explain what a Karen" is - "a pejorative term that has come to prominence to label a demanding, middle-aged white woman who displays a sense of overbearing entitlement in various societal confrontations." A "perjorative term", eh?

It's interesting how fluid the internet is. And why hard-printed copy, such as a printed dictionary, is so important. You can read something today on the internet, and next week you can't find it.
Jun 26, 2020 - The "Karen" meme is being used to describe women who commit acts that are perceived to be racist in public,...  (

On July 1 I found one definition of a KAREN as a racial slur. Today? Not to be found.

Why was I looking up KAREN today? Lightfoot's slur against the White House press secretary reminded me of the slur tossed by Columbia's own Chris Leevy Johnson in a Facebook post right after James Shadd was elected Chair of the Richland 2 School Board. At 6:37PM on June 30, Johnson, a pastor with Brookland Northeast Baptist Church and a funeral director at Leevy's Funeral Home, referred to Richland 2 Trustee Lindsay Agostini as a "KAREN".He posted a message on his Facebook page just minutes after Shadd was elected, and this post is still there today.

Johnson's post was later sent to James Shadd by Tameika Isaac Devine on June 30 at about 10:30PM, with her message: "Congratulations, James Shadd. Please read Pastor Chris' post below."

Was that Devine's way of saying Thanks to the superintendent for directing the school district's bond attorney firm to give some legal work to Devine's very small law firm? The superintendent got the board to approve his authority to so order Burr Forman McNair in January 2019. My guess is that most board members did not even read or understand that directive sentence in the nine pages of Resolution they were asked to approve.

Why would Johnson be calling Trustee Agostini a "KAREN"? Why would he be calling her anything? Is it a racial slur? Is it appropriate language for a pastor at a large church and a man associated with a large Columbia funeral home, well-known in the black community?

Should he face censure by the church and criticism by Leevy's for his comment?

What Johnson didn't mention was "why" Agostini voted against Shadd for Board Chair and "why" she voted "No" on the superintendent's evaluation and contract extension.

Catch the District's homepage today

Be sure to catch the District's homepage today at

The schools' re-opening plan is featured.

The new officers of the board for 2020-2021 are shown.

The superintendent's photo and mention of his evaluation got the most important position which, for a newspaper or a webpage, is top right. And his photo got the largest size; larger even that the three photo sizes of the board's officers, combined.

The gushing comments of Amelia McKie, trustee-elect of the school board (and unofficial member of the board since November 13, 2018), are almost over-powering. She spoke with the same glowing terms at the board meeting. If she were an employee, you'd think she was looking for a promotion.

The superintendent was awarded an "overall distinguished" evaluation, along with a one-year extension of his employment contract to 6/30/2024.

The District's web article did not mention that the vote on his evaluation and contract was 6-1, not unanimous. The article also did not mention why the vote was 6-1, although the dissenting trustee did speak up and inform the public. Her reason was significant and should have affected the evaluation. But she is in the minority on the board.

The Board majority (the "Squad") will band together and get everything it wants, and it will give the superintendent everything he wants. There are four (sometimes five) who rule the roost. And not just because a majority of four out of seven will control. It's "which" four.

The public, the voters, is entitled to seven independent minds looking carefully at everything it is to control and direct. That hasn't been the case for some time. I wonder sometimes if certain members of the board even bother to read all the material on which they will be expected to vote at a board meeting. There is no reason to think that will change now.

I recall one board meeting when a trustee asked a question of a staff member after a presentation had been made. Somewhat hesitantly, but bravely, that staffer said (something like), "That information is in the board packet that you got before the meeting." Obviously, that trustee had not read the material in the board packet. How often does that happen?

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Friendships before Law?

Should friendships come before the law?

Board members should be friendly toward one another. This makes for more progress, when decisions are made by voting on Motions for action at the school board level.

The school board is governed by the laws of the State of South Carolina and by Board Policies. Board Policies can be found on the District's website:
After you get there, click on EXPLORE (top right); then
Click on School Board; then
Click on BOARD POLICIES; then
Click on B (left side)

Since about February 2019 I have complained to the board that Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes are not legitimate board members. Why aren't they?

State law (S.C. Code of Laws 8-13-1110) reads, in part

"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..."

Boiling it down to its simplest: (A) No public official... may take the oath of office or enter upon his official responsibilities unless he has filed a statement of economic interests..."

And that's exactly what McKie and Holmes did. They took the oath of office and entered up official duties on November 13, 2018, three weeks before the filed their Statements of Economic Interests with the S.C. Ethics Commission on December 4, 2018. AND they have not taken the oath since December 4, 2018.

Because they took the oath before they were eligible to do so, it's like they never took it and they are not yet legitimate members of the school board. McKie and Holmes are usurping public office - a second violation of South Carolina law.

Now, here's the pickle. James Shadd is the recently-elected (by the school board) Board Chair. James Shadd is an attorney. As a law school graduate and member of the South Carolina Bar, he should have no difficulty understanding the law. And insisting that the school board follow it.

If he doesn't?

Does he become complicit in the violations of the law?
Does an ethical problem arise, when he allows continued violation of the law?

The Board has attempted to say that it cannot act. Seriously? Since McKie and Holmes are not lawfully entitled to sit at the Board desks, all James Shadd will need to do is ask the RCSD deputy to remove them.

I emailed the Board Chair on July 4 saying, in part, "I'd like to be in touch with you about the failure of Amelia and Teresa to take the oath of office legally (S.C. Code of Laws §8-13-1110(A)) and how this should be corrected. I'm happy to meet with you in person or via a video chat."

Today is July 16. There has been no acknowledgement or reply.

Who Decides on Re-opening of Schools?

Who will make the decision on the re-opening of Richland 2 schools?

Will it be the superintendent or will it be the School Board? Or the State Department of Education? Or the South Carolina School Boards Association? Or Red for Ed? Or the U.S. Department of Education?

There is no doubt that the final decision belongs in the hands of the Richland 2 School Board. The superintendent will make a recommendation. The majority of the school board will rubber-stamp it. The school board bears the responsibility, and it is the board that shouldn't duck that responsibility.

The decision belongs AT the school board level. These are the people elected by the voters to direct the school district. Aside from the fact that two people sit on the board illegally, there are five legal members, a quorum, who can make the decision.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Does Media Manipulate Readers

Does media manipulate readers? Remember the story from Seattle about the driver who ran over two protesters during a Black Lives Matter demonstration that closed I-5 in both directions?

Answer these questions before reading the rest of the story.

Was the driver white or black?
Were the BLM protesters black or white?

Now read this article, "Selective Media Reporting Further Fuels Our Racial Divide",
by John R. Lott, Jr.

Were your answers correct?

Prof. Lott is a respected researcher, well-known for his book More Guns, Less Crime. Within the article, he has this to say about the media:

"Race and politics increasingly divide Americans, and selective media reporting is largely to blame. The media, not President Donald Trump, is fanning the flames of violence."

How can you combat this divide? Get the facts before chiseling your opinion in stone.

"School Closures Threaten Kids More Than COVID-19, Pediatricians Say"

The headline above a recent newsletter article brings an additional and important point-of-view for parents' consideration. Click here for the article.

At the July 9, 2020 Richland 2 school board meeting a presentation with graphs was made that showed the concerns of various groups in Richland 2 (students, parents, staff) about the re-opening of schools. You can view that presentation on the YouTube recording of the school board meeting.

Too often I hear "Why don't 'they' do more?" Well, they are we. Are you involved in the planning for your child's education with consideration of the current conditions? Did you respond to Richland 2's survey?

Are you griping about what Trump is (or is not) doing? I mean, President Trump. I am so tired of people saying "Trump". (I know, I know. I am surrounded by too many Democrats.) 

The U.S. Department of Education is not making knee-jerk decisions. Nor is the South Carolina Department of Education. Nor is Richland 2.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

What is Black Culture?

There is a must-see PragerU video of The Candace Owens Show with KingFace, which was published on July 12, 2020.

What is driving racial divide? How is black culture impacting black America?

Watch this episode of The Candace Owens Show with her guest, KingFace.

Are they right? Not right?

Culture is mentioned often by the Richland 2 School Board and the superintendent. The District spends a bunch of money on a program created by USC Prof. Gloria Boutte, titled "Culturally Relevant Pedagogy".

Want to know more about Boutte's program? Find the March 26, 2019 video-recording of the Richland 2 School Board meeting and fast-forward to 2:15:10.

Maybe every student in Richland 2 needs to watch this program with Candace and KingFace. It could be worth far more than the money the District is spending on "Culturally Relevant Pedagogy".

Please comment below on this Candace Owens Show. Be sure to watch the video first.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Black Lives Matter - not what you think

When you hear an educator, a teacher, a school board trustee, an administrator mention Black Lives Matter (BLM), what do you think of?

Write down .... now before reading further, what you think of, or maybe even what you think you know about, BLM.


Did you write it down?

Now read this article from The Heritage Foundation.

Did you write down, substantially, what you read in this article?

Comment below, please. The same? Different? How different?

Is Black Lives Matter a domestic terrorist organization that belongs on the Hate Watch list of Southern Poverty Law Center?

Thursday, July 9, 2020

BEDH Reinstated - sort of

At today's special-called board meeting, the board voted 7-0 to reinstate Board Policy BEDH - Public Participation at Meetings. Sort of...

Some kind of backroom deal must have been made, because Mrs. Libby Roof, the District's Chief Communications Officer, was ready with an explanation about how public participation would be conducted.

The public will NOT be able to speak during the board meeting.

What the public will be able to do is submit comments to the District during a few days before the meeting and up until about mid-afternoon of the day of the meeting. Then the submitted comments will be read to the board during the meeting.

The next board meeting is July 21. On about July 17 a notice form will be posted on the District's website, and a member of the public will submit his comment electronically on that form.

Let's say that a parent wants to really unload on the board about something it has or has not done. So he or she submits a strongly-worded comment (polite, no profanity; but strongly worded). Then a staffer will be expected to read that comment. Will it be read with the same emotion and forceful tone as that with which it was written?

Because Mrs. Roof was ready with her explanation, when a board member asked how public participation would be handled, that caused me to think that the board already knew about the that policy. And yet no one spoke up on behalf of the public to ask how a member of the public could address the board orally.

I guess we'll find out how well it works and if the board really "gets" what the member of the public was saying to them.

Slippery agenda for 7/9/2020

On the agenda for today's school board meeting, there is a line that appears when you click on the link for Item 6.1.

Item 6.1 will be the discussion and vote on whether to reinstate Board Policy BEDH - Public Participation at Meetings.

This is the slippery line:

"Per the recommendation of the S.C. School Board Association in light of the global health emergency, the board voted May 12, 2020, to suspend policy BEDH, Public Participation at Meetings for all meetings indefinitely."

It's partially true. The Board did vote to suspend BEDH, but there was no "indefinitely" about it.

Although Amelia McKie said emphatically on May 12th that the suspension was temporary, it was not. She just was not telling the truth.

The motion that night was to suspend Board Policy BEDH. Period.
Not "temporarily."
Not "indefinitely".
Not "until the COVID-19 pandemic is over."
Not "until the the state of emergency is over."

The Board suspended it. Period.

Today the Board may correct that error. We'll see.

Restore Public Participation (BEDH) Tonight

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

I surely hope that the Board will vote to reinstate Board Policy BEDH this evening. Tonight is the night to demonstrate your respect for the public in Richland 2 School District.

When Board Policy BEDH is restored, will you please make a motion to add Public Participation to the next and future agendas? Otherwise, the Policy will be reinstated but there will be no agenda item for the public to speak.

Please also seriously consider scheduling in-person Board meetings, with appropriate social-distancing seating. It is important for the public to see you and for you to see the public.

If the Board continues to meet by Zoom, it is a very easy step to allow members of the public to address the Board via Zoom. Those wishing to speak can indicate their interest by 2:00PM on the day of the meeting. They should attend the Zoom meeting.

When Public Participation is opened, the Chair should state how Public Participation will be conducted. He should briefly review the guidelines, then introduce the first speaker and say, "Followed by (name) and (name). The Zoom moderator unmutes the first speaker. At the conclusion of the first speaker's remarks, the Chair thanks that speaker and introduces the next speaker, "followed by (name) and (name)".In fact, this method would work well for in-person Public Participation at Meetings. The delay between speakers would be eliminated.

At the June 20, 2020 virtual meeting of the Alexandria, Va. City Council, there were 38 speakers registered to speak. Watch how Mayor Wilson efficiently runs the public participation portion of the meeting:

Gus Philpott

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

ATTN. Teachers, Parents. Contact Board Members NOW

Richland 2 School District has announced, on short notice, a Special-Called Board Meeting for this Thursday, July 9, 4:30PM. The Board will convene at 4:30PM, adjourn to Executive Session for 30 minutes, and re-convene the open, public (Zoom) meeting at 5:00PM.

At the June 30 meeting it was believed that the next board meeting would be July 21 (no first--Tuesday meeting in July), and a draft agenda for that meeting was discussed and approved.

Today the School District announced a meeting this Thursday. There must be some reason for the rush.

"New Business - No Action Requested" is a re-opening of schools discussion.

AND the Board decided to advance the discussion of rescinding the suspension of Board Policy BEDH - Public Participation at Meetings. This agenda item is marked "New Business - Action Requested".

At the May 12 meeting the Board stripped YOUR privilege of addressing the Board at board meetings. And it eliminated your privilege of submitting items to be considered at future board meetings.

NOW is the time to contact your board members (see contact information here) and tell them to restore your privileges. Ask them to unwind the anti-public decision they made on May 12, 2020. Email or telephone before Thursday afternoon. The Board Members' webpage hasn't been updated yet, following the June 30 election of officers for the 2020-2021 School Year.

All the same board members are in place. The deck was only shuffled a little on June 30, when James Shadd took over as Board Chair.

Shadd is a lawyer and he should understand and respect the First Amendment - the one that says government (this includes school boards) shall not infringe freedom of speech, regardless of advice freom the South Carolina School Boards Association. He should lead the board in placing Board Policy BEDH back in full force and effect.

(Not so) Proud Students at Summit Middle School

On July 6 The State newspaper reported that two "children" were caught after they ran from deputies who were questioning them about being out on the town at 4:00AM on July 2. So, what ARE two kids doing out at 4:00AM?

Deputies stopped to question the kids, who turned out to be 11 years old and 13 (or 14) years old. According to the story, the kids gave false names and then took off.

Let it be known to one and all that our RCSD deputy did not shoot at them!

Later, deputies found, according to the story, “a stolen handgun, two BB guns, rubber gloves and burglary tools, among other items that would later be reported stolen from car break-ins on Summit Centre Circle and Summit Parkway,”

During the first contact the deputies' bodycams recorded images of the kids. When the images were shown to the School Resource Officer at Summit Middle School, he recognized one of the kids. The two turned out to be brothers.

One was released to parental custody, and the other cooled his heals in the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center juvenile wing.

Cimpliments to our alert deputies. Good work!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Caution-Parker filed SEI late - why?

South Carolina law and the South Carolina Ethics Commission require all public officials to file a Statement of Economic Interests Report (SEI) annually. The SEI is due by noon on March 30 of each calendar year.

Why did Cheryl Caution-Parker file her SEI on 3/30/2020 at 3:24PM?

The Report should cover the previous year. Just like a person's income tax year. The Report should cover the entire year (ex., from 1/1/2019 to 12/31/2019), so it has to be filed after the Calendar Year ends on December 31. In that way the Report will include the full year.

A report filed by March 30, 2020 should cover the Calendar Year of 2019. Just like when you file your Federal Income Tax Return. When you file your form with IRS by April 15, 2020, it is for the year ending 12/31/19.

But the Ethics Commission's User Guide instructs Filers to call the 1/1/19-12/31/19 report the 2020 Report.

So filers submit forms by March 30, 2020 for the Year 2020.

Last year I suggested to the Ethics Commission that it re-program its system to prevent a filer from choosing an incorrect Filing Year. When I followed up this year, I was directed to the User Guide.

Now, why would Caution-Parker file late? As an elected official she must be familiar with the law. She would have known that the SEI could be filed on any day between January 1, 2020 and March 30, 2020. And for the calendar year 2019. That's how many days? 31 + 29 + 30. And she still missed the deadline by three hours 24 minutes.

She was just re-elected as the Secretary to the Board of Trustees of the Richland 2 School District. Should we be worried about her attention to detail?

Will she just sign any form put in front of her? Or will she look at it carefully and think, "Is this right? Is this true?"

Caution-Parker wasn't alone in filing late.

S.C. Sen. Mia McLeod missed the deadline by 53 minutes.

S.C. Rep. Ivory Thigpen missed the deadline by 2 days, 8 hours 16 minutes and then filed Amendment 1 the next day at 10:11PM.

S.C. Sen. Dick Harpootlian missed the deadline by 6 minutes and then filed Amendment 1 60 minutes later.

Monday, July 6, 2020

First Responsibility of Chair James Shadd

The very first responsibility of the newly-elected Chair of the Richland 2 School Board, James Shadd, should be to correct the serious deficiency in the number of legitimate board members.

The Richland 2 School Board is to have seven members. That's seven legal members. It has operated with five legal members since November 13, 2018.

Since November 13, 2018 two women have been present on the board as less-than-legitimate members of the board.

They are Trustees-elect only, but they are being allowed to serve as full-fledged members of the board. They are being paid as board members, and they receive benefits and perks as members, when they are not. The school district is improperly expending taxpayer funds for the compensation and benefits for them.

Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes were elected on November 6, 2018.
McKie and Holmes took the oath of office on November 13, 2018. Notarized documents confirm this. They entered upon official responsibilities on November 13 (attended the board meeting on that date).
McKie and Holmes had not filed their Statements of Economic Interests (SEI) with the S.C. Ethics Commission at the time they took the oath of office.
McKie and Holmes filed their SEIs on December 4, 2018.

South Carolina Code of Laws §8-13-1110A is explicit and is to be followed. Except the Trustees seem to think they are "special".

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 whatsoever unclear about §8-13-1110(A).

First, you file your SEI.
Then you take the oath of office.

Not the other way around.

This is easily remedied. All McKie and Holmes have to do is raise their right hands and take the oath of office.

Integrity demands that McKie and Holmes step forward and do this on their own. If they don't?
Integrity demands that Shadd require them to do so.

Why has this not happened before now? There is a nasty little matter of "What about the gap between then and now?"

Must the District recover all the monies paid to and for McKie and Holmes?

Must the District go back to November 13, 2018 and correct all the votes by the board that were affected by votes of McKie and Holmes?

The S.C. Supreme Court should address why Richland 2 is allowing two women to usurp public office.

SECTION 15-63-60. Action against usurpers, for forfeiture of office or against persons acting as corporation.

An action may be brought by the Attorney General in the name of the State upon his own information or upon the complaint of any private party or by a private party interested on leave granted by a circuit judge against the parties offending in the following cases:

(1) When any person shall usurp, intrude into, or unlawfully hold or exercise any public office, civil or military, or any franchise within this State or any office in a corporation, created by the authority of this State;

Richland 2's Chair, James Shadd, is a lawyer. Lawyers can read and understand laws. His responsibility now is to act.

Friday, July 3, 2020

This is McKie - being brief

During the Board & Superintendent Comments of the June 30, 2020, board meeting Trustee-elect Amelia McKie said (at 1:38:00), "Have a good evening. I won't belabor my comments.  It's been a long meeting, but thank you for (unintelligible)"

She had been quite wordy at different times during the meeting, and I thought to myself, "Good."

And then she continued to do exactly what she said she would not do.

"Umm, Dr. Davis, thank you for, umm, your efforts about the Shealy and the task force. You are the superintendent. The buck stops there. Although it's a huge team of people for working together, thank y'all for that. And I just wanted to make clear something.

"We are as board members, we are to set policy. Our job in the system is to set policy. And we have one task. We hire and we fire the superintendent. We are not even here to micro-manage him. We don't micro-manage principals. We don't micro-manage teachers. We don't micro-manage employees. That's not our lane.

"Our job is to set policy. It's tough sometimes. But for the myriad of people who call us and contact us,  who work with the superintendent, who work with teachers, who work with the principals, who work with parents, umm, to make the system work, and to help us do our job effectively, which is to set policy. I appreciate that. Y'all stay safe.

"Umm, the numbers, the COVID numbers are just, you know, umm, unconstable [sic] at this moment and with that, our own superintendent who is sittin' here, trying his best to give us 135% as he always gives us, and we appreciate that. But I hope that everybody will go home and stay safe. Keep your loved ones safe at the end of the day.

"This is about educating our kids. That's the end-user for the product we sell. That people are dying every day. People are dying, literally, every day. People are sick.

"We have atrocities that are going on in our country that are, uhh, just a double, triple, quadruple planning, so for the big picture and things that are hugely important, I hope that people will continue to be team players, to be compassionate, umm, and to be supportive of the end-user of the product that we are delivering, which is a quality education to our babies and opportunity that supports them.

"Have a wonderful evening. And thank all of y'all for what you do, and particularly Dr. (unintelligible). And congratulations, Mr. Shadd, and congratulations, Dr. Holmes, congratulations, Dr. Cheryl Caution-Parker. I know you'll do a fine job as board officers. Bless y'all, and have a good evening."

She concluded at (1:40:17)

I recommend you go to the video-recording and listen to that drivel for yourself. Now, that's McKie - being brief. Two minutes of nothing.

And unfocused, rambling, disconnected. How do the maturing students in Richland 2 like being called "babies"? Even the middle-school students? Even the elementary school students. "Babies"? Are you kidding me?

Now, as for the duties of the Board of Trustees. Apparently, McKie has not read Board Policy BBA - Board Powers and Duties. McKie has been on the board since November 2014 and was board chair (improperly) for the school year 2018-19 (Only legitimate board members are eligible to be board officers; she has not been a legitimate board member since November 2018).

What does BBA say? I'll just list the categories. Read the Policy for yourselves. The categories of powers and duties are:
Operational Action
Appraisal and Approval
Educational Planning and Evaluation
Provision of Financial Resources
Reviewing Action
Visits to Schools
Public Relations

Far more than just hiring and firing the superintendent.

To read the Board Policies, go to
Click on EXPLORE
Click on School Board

Board Policy BBA is the fourth one down. Maybe someone will let McKie know where to look.

What is a "KAREN"?

How do we achieve healing between blacks and whites when this happens?

When Pastor Chris Leevy Johnson referred to a white Richland 2 School Member as a "KAREN" [sic] in a Facebook post on June 30, was that a racist comment? I say it was.

We all know what happens when a white person calls a black person the "n-word". In fact, the white person who even pronounces the word represented by the "n-word" will quickly find him a target. To do so these days results in anger, outrage and, in Columbia, S.C. and other places, quite likely a criminal charge of committing a hate crime.

But what about when a black person calls a white woman a "KAREN"?

Are there protests? Demonstrations? Riots? Looting? Arsons? Acts of intimidation? Assaults? Batteries? Murders? Rampaging on the streets? Broken windows? Graffiti?

What consequences should the person who utters such a word face? Should Johnson be investigated? Charged? Jailed? Prosecuted? Convicted? Imprisoned? Shunned by fellow blacks?

I don't know him. I don't want to know him.

Anyone who thinks racism isn't alive and well around here is nuts.

Isn't a pastor to be thought of as one who promotes peace and healing between races?

Pastor uses racist term toward school board member

Remember the bumper stickers that read "I'm Mad, Too, Eddie"?

Yesterday I was glancing over Facebook posts and came across these two.

I have seldom seen such a racist remark by a local minister. And for a City of Columbia councilwoman (and lawyer and beneficiary of perhaps $40,000 of Richland 2 sub-contracted legal fees) to repeat it just compounds the insult.

On June 30 at 10:50PM (after the Richland 2 school board meeting) local attorney and City of Columbia councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine posted a message on Facebook. It read, “Congratulations James Shadd. Please read Pastor Chris’ post below.”

The post “below” (also on June 30) was from Chris Leevy Johnson who claimed to be with James Shadd on June 30 at 6:37PM. Johnson wrote:

“Congratulations to my classmate since kindergarten at Greenview Elementary James Shadd for being elected Chairman of the Richland County School District Two School Board tonight! He ran unopposed but the vote was unfortunately 6-1! Please watch the video and let us remember KAREN [sic] did not vote for our brother (or to extend the contract of the Superintendent which was another 6-1 vote) this coming November.”

Johnson is a pastor at Richland Northeast Baptist Church and works at Leevy Funeral Home in Columbia.

That exchange demands a public apology from James Shadd to his fellow school board trustee.

It also demands public apologies from Tameika Isaac Devine and Chris Leevy Johnson.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Public Participation - on the way back?

At last night's school board meeting (June 30, 2020) Trustee Agostini mentioned that she had requested the Board Chair, James Manning, to add an agenda item to address rescinding the suspension of Board Policy BEDH - Public Participation at Meetings.

Although it has never officially been notated as suspended, the Board did eliminate Public Participation at Meetings on May 12, 2020. Before the board voted, Amelia McKie said it was temporary. No, it wasn't.

The Motion was not worded as temporary, and the Chair should have corrected her. But he didn't. And it wasn't. The Board voted to suspend BEDH. That eliminated the public's speaking at meeting. And it eliminated the public's opportunity to request items to be added to an agenda.

Last night Agostini said she had requested this topic to be added to to the agenda, and her request was denied. Mr. Manning acknowledged that he had decided not to include that item.

Later in the meeting, when it came time to approve the agenda for the next meeting, the Motion was made and seconded to approve the agenda. Then Mrs. Agostini made a secondary motion - to add the rescinding of BEDH to the agenda. The staff secretary worded it as "unsuspend" the policy (BEDH).

The secondary motion passed, and then the primary motion was voted on and passed.

At the July 28, 2020 board meeting the board will discuss this item. Of course, the public will not get a chance to give input before the board votes.

THEREFORE, the public (that's You) should call your favorite board member(s) and ask them to vote in favor of "unsuspending" (rescinding) the suspension of Board Policy BEDH.

When you call, give them your reason(s). And ASK them how they will vote. Then check up on them after the meeting and learn how they, in fact, did vote.

If Zoom meetings continue, it is simple for the Board to hear from the public. All any speaker has to do is email the District (contact to be provided later) and request to be added as a speaker. Then log onto Zoom and into the meeting. The District's meeting controller will call on you when it's your turn, and you'll bet your three minutes.

The Alexandria (Va.) City Council held a contentious meeting on a Saturday, and there were many public speakers. And it went like clockwork. The mayor announced the name of the next speaker and said, "followed by (name), (name) and (name)". Speakers nailed it on three minutes. The mayor thanked the speaker and introduced the next speaker "followed by (three names)". This meant the following speakers were queued and ready to speak.

How many in the Zoom audience? 854

Last night's audience for the June 30, 2020 school board meeting probably surprised everyone.

When the meeting started (officially) at 4:32PM, there were 110 online, as indicated by the counter at the upper left of the screen. The board quickly adjourned, as scheduled, to Executive Session.

When the open session reconvened at 5:00PM, there were 332 present.

At about 5:10PM, it was announced that the Board had lavished the superintendent with an Overall Distinguished Evaluation and extended his contract by a year to June 30, 2024. By that time there were 573 attending.

During the discussion prior to voting on the superintendent's evaluation, Trustee Agostini commented on how she had been treated by the superintendent following her resignation as Secretary in the spring of 2019. She commented that he had been inequitable and unprofessional in his manner toward her. Readers can look back to previous blogposts that examine why Mrs. Agostini resigned. Her integrity and high standards were the basis of refusing to attest to illegal signatures on, and statements in, official bond documents. (Following her resignation, James Shadd was appointed Secretary and quickly signed the same documents with the discrepancies uncorrected.)

And then the vote was taken on his evaluation: 6-1  Thank you, Mrs. Agostini, for being willing to speak up and say the important things that need to be said.

The Zoom audience reached a peak of 854 last night.

Transparency by the School Board. Really?

During last night's school board meeting, there was a perfect opportunity for transparency.

During the COVID-19 report by the superintendent, he could have mentioned the number of COVID-19 cases identified among students and staff of Richland 2.

As part of his COVID-19 report on May 26, 2020, the superintendent informed the board that no student or staff member had been diagnosed with COVID-19.

As many know, Columbia is a hotbed of new coronavirus cases.

At 4:29PM yesterday (one minute before the start of the board meeting) District 2 sent out a press release that Dr. Davis had been tested on Sunday and had received news that this test was positive.

Not a word during the meeting. He could have disclosed that during his COVID-19 report or during his superintendent comment at the end of the meeting. HIPAA protections didn't apply, because the District had already released his statement to the press.

At least one trustee (Holmes) noted that she knew he wasn't feeling well, so there was a clue that the board already knew about it. They would have been told before the start of the Zoom meeting or during Executive Session (although it wasn't on the Agenda).

Somewhere during the meeting the superintendent even used the word "transparency" among his many, very long remarks. Well, maybe it's really just a 12-letter word that sounds good during meetings of public bodies.

Officers for 2020-2021

At last night's final school board meeting for the 2019-2020 school year, the board elected officers for the school year starting July 1, 2020 (and ending June 30, 2021).

Chair - James Shadd
Vice Chair - Teresa Holmes
Secretary - Cheryl Caution-Parker

Each was the sole nominee for the office.

What are the problems?

For James Shadd.

According to a June 11, 2020 article in The Independent Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County newspaper, "A Richland Two school board member has racked up more than $57,000 in county and state tax liens since 2012." That school member is James Shadd.

The Voice identified these six liens as still active:

  • December 29, 2014—$11,659.01
  • March 23, 2017—$2,573.92
  • March 30, 2017—$6,587.40
  • April 12, 2019—$10,055.91
  • April 12, 2019—$7,331.91
  • May 8, 2020—$11,958.62
For Teresa Holmes.

Holmes has never legally taken the oath of office as Trustee. She was elected on November 6, 2018 and took the oath of office - illegally - on November 13, 2018 and was allowed to begin serving on the school board. The problem is that she was not eligible to take the oath on November 13, 2018, because she had not filed her Statement of Economic Interests with the S.C. Ethics Commission.

She filed that SEI on December 4, 2018, and became eligible on that date to take the oath of office. She has not done so. Therefore, she has never become a legal member of the school board. She was ineligible to be elected for the 2019-2020 term of Vice Chair. She was re-elected, illegally, last night to the officer's position.

For Cheryl Caution-Parker:

Does she has the critical-thinking skills and backbone to stand up for her legal responsibilities as Secretary of the School Board? This means, among other things, reading the Minutes with a critical eye and calling for corrections as needed. She served as Secretary in the 2019-2020 school year and did not once do so. It also means paying close attention to the wording of motions, names of persons making and seconding motions, and voting record. Accuracy is the responsibility of the Secretary, even though it is the notetaker's (recording staff secretary) duty to prepare the Minutes.

It also means reading carefully every legal document that she is asked to sign on behalf of the school district. When she "certifies" a document, her signature is more than merely witnessing the signatures of the Chair and Superintendent. 

Will she pay closer attention during this school year?