Friday, October 30, 2020

What The BPA says about school board candidates

You'll want to read this week's The Independent Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County newspaper. Grab the "real thing" or read it online at

Look for the article with the title, "R2 Black Parents Assocation grades board incumbents"

The BPA gives Lindsay Agostini an A for the past four years on the board and concludes with "she undoubtedly deserves 4 more years."

The BPA gives Monica Elkins a B+ and recommends another four years for her.

James Shadd? He gets a NI for Needs Improvement. Rather than demonstrating integrity in its ratings by adding a Not Recommended, the BPA chose to end with "you decide". But read what they had to say about Shadd. Then you will decide - to vote for someone else.

A huge error in the BPA statement about Shadd was the sentence, "He was elected and assiduously became Chairman of a contentious board." 

Can you use "assiduously" correctly in a sentence? defines it as "with careful and consistent effort; diligently or tirelessly" and "constantly; ceaselessly"

Some (many? most?) will argue that is the wrong adverb with which to describe his ascension to the Board Chair role on June 30, 2020.

He was nominated, and no one else was nominated for the position. Why? I'm going to guess that Lindsay Agostini and Monica Elkins knew that the deck was stacked. There had been a round of telephone calls before the June 30th meeting to assure that Shadd would get at least the four necessary votes. Not every board member was included in that round of calls. But you can bet that McKie, Holmes and Caution-Parker were. With Shadd's own vote, that made four - the majority.

Agostini and Elkins are working hard to be re-elected. Several of the challengers are working hard. There could be two new faces on the board. Hopefully, not three.

Why do I think James Shadd does not deserve re-election? Since he was elected Board Chair, he has not acknowledged or replied to even one email or letter from me.

I can understand that, as only a board member, he would duck a reply, claiming he can't speak out for the board. Of course, he could speak for himself. But, when he receives a letter addressed to Board Chair (and a Certified Mail letter at that, with a Return Receipt Requested), then he should reply. So it's just plain rude and unprofessional not to reply. It was his duty and obligation to reply. 

And he didn't.

What was that Certified Letter about? It was about correcting the situation of two illegitimate women on the school board.

By now you've probably voted. If not, you can vote absentee/in-person today, tomorrow and Monday. Or you can vote in-person on Tuesday, November 4.

Be Courageous

Be sure to watch Dennis Prager's Fireside Chat No. 158 on Courage in the Face of a Mob. He has so many good things to say that apply right here in the Richland 2 School District.

The best thing I can say is, Watch It Now.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Nov. 10 school board meeting - IN-PERSON

Thanks to a question by a school board member near the end of last night's meeting, it was announced that the November 10 school board meeting will be IN-PERSON. There will be limited seating on a first-come, first-seated basis, with social-distancing.

The board took a beating last night about holding virtual board meetings while, at the same time, re-opening schools. Listen to and read the letters from parents and teachers that were read to the board last night.

On November 10,

5:00PM Installation Ceremony for newly-elected and re-elected board members.

5:30PM Executive Session

6:00PM Open school board meeting.

Here is a major problem that the superintendent may have brought to the Board and that the board approved.

SECTION 59-19-315. Commencement of trustee's term of office.

The term of office of every elected trustee of a school district must commence one week following the certification of his election.

If the board does this year what it did in 2018, it will install board members and allow them to commence their duties on the same day, but before their term of office begins. November 10th will be prior to the legal commencement date of their term of office!

The November 10th board meeting will be held before one week has passed after the certification of the election by the Richland County Elections Commission. It will be improper and probably illegal to allow newly-elected board members to attend the November 10th Executive Session or to sit at the board to discuss and vote on motions. 

In 2018 Teresa Holmes was allowed to attend the November 13 (2018) board meeting, including the confidential Executive Session. She sat at the board and voted on board matters. She was not eligible to do so, because her term-of-office had not yet begun. The 2018 election was certified on November 9. She also never has taken the oath of office legally, and she has been allowed to sit on the board for almost two years without ever having taken the oath of office legally.

Amelia McKie attended the November 13, 2018 board meeting and Executive Session, because it was the last meeting of her 2014-2018 term of office. She too took the oath of office illegally on November 13, 2018, and she too has never taken the oath-of-office for the 2018-2022 term legally. 

McKie should not have served as board chair from November 13, 2018 to June 30, 2019.

Holmes is not entitled to serve as an officer because she, in fact, is not a legal member of the board.

All McKie and Holmes need to do to become legal members of the board is to take the oath of office legally.

Will the board begin following the law this year?

Vote corrected to 6-0-1

 After the board voted on a motion last night, the result was announced incorrectly as 6-1; i.e., six in favor, one opposed.

The issue on which the board had voted was an Executive Session item regarding "Student 1" and whether to uphold the decision of the Administration. In the past it has been common to show the public how the board members voted, indicating the Yes or No vote after each board member's name. I think that screen was not shown last night.

The recording secretary (or some otherwise-anonymous female voice) reported the vote as 6-0.

Chair Shadd was ready to move on, when Mrs. Agostini asked to be recognized. She said she had not voted No; she had abstained.

Thus, the correct vote was 6-0-1. Six Yes, no No's, one Abstaining. 

The public does not know the reason she abstained, nor does the public need to know. The vote was on a confidential, Executive Session matter involving a student.

But HOW she voted was important. She was right to ask that it be corrected. It should have been corrected observed and reported the first time.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Board errs in approving draft agenda

The Board approved the draft agenda tonight for the November 10, 2020 Board Meeting with a huge error that no one addressed.

The superintendent proposed that there be a board installation ceremony at 5:00PM, followed by an Executive Session at 5:30PM and the open meeting at 6:00PM.

The Board is going to make the same error it made on November 13, 2018.

SECTION 59-19-315. Commencement of trustee's term of office.
The term of office of every elected trustee of a school district must commence one week following the certification of his election.

The November 10th board meeting will be prior to "one week following the certification of the election" of any newly-elected, first-time board member(s). Election day is November 3rd. The Richland County Elections Commission will certify the election probably no sooner than November 6. Therefore the term-of-office begins November 13, 2020, which is three days after the planned installation ceremony. .

Any new trustees could be sworn in on November 10th, IF they have filed their Statements of Economic Interests with the South Caroline Ethics Commission. Hopefully, the Board Secretary will check and confirm that filing.

But newly-elected board members cannot be seated legally at the November 10, 2020 meeting. They cannot attend the Executive (confidential) session or vote on board matters, because their term-of-office will not have begun.

So why did the superintendent put this on the agenda for the November 10th board meeting? Does he intend to allow the law to be violated again, as it was on November 13, 2018? (McKie and Holmes still have not legally taken the oath of office and have been usurping office as school board members for almost two years!)

Another law being violated by Richland 2 is this one.

SECTION 59-19-70. Chairman and clerk of board.
The trustees shall, as soon as practicable after the appointment of any new trustee, organize by the election of one of their members as chairman and another as clerk of the board. The chairman shall preside at meetings of the board and perform other duties imposed on him under the law, and the clerk shall keep a record of the proceedings of all meetings in a book provided for that purpose and perform all other duties required of him by law.

Will a new Board Chair and Board Clerk (Secretary) be elected? This should happen at the first board meeting after the term-of-office begins. That will be the December 8, 2020 meeting.

Best written Public Participation!!! Supt. disses teachers, parents.

The October 27th board meeting had the very best set of submitted comments to be read to the Board since virtual meetings began.

As soon as the video is published on YouTube, watch this board meeting on YouTube. The Public Participation was broken into two segments, so that all 21 letters could be read.

At 9:54 on the timer Mrs. Libby Roof beg`an reading the first half of the letters. Unfortunately, she is a speed-reader and, at times, it is hard to follow what she is saying. However, the communication is shown on screen, so that you can read it and follow along.

Many were from teachers with health problems who have been denied accommodations by the District.

Sometime around 1 hour 10 minutes into the meeting (I'll add the exact time on October 29), Mrs. Roof began reading the second half of the letters.

Take the time to listen to the reading of these letters.

Then scroll ahead to hear the superintendent's comments during the Board & Superintendent Comments. His comments begin at 1:39 (one hour 39 min.) on the timer. He opened with saying he was "disheartened". Oh, my; his feeling were hurt. He launched into a "Damn the Torpedoes. Full Speed Ahead" speech, justifying all the planning and hard work of the teams worked. 

I was immediately reminded of these words: 

"No plan survives the first shot. No plan survives first contact with the enemy. No plan survives its initial implementation. 'No plan survives contact with the enemy.' (Barnett, 1963)" (Google) and

"No plan survives first contact with the enemy. What matters is how quickly the leader is able to adapt." (Tim Hartford)

And he disrespected those at-risk teachers and parents of at-risk students and children whose comments were read earlier. And then he criticized parents for "utilizing children to advocate". Where did he get that???

Chairman Shadd should have cut him off and told him to hold his speech for another meeting; i.e., put it on the agenda. 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

COVID-19 - week ending 10/23/2020

The following email has been sent to the Richland 2 School Board and the candidates running for school board.

Board Members and Trustees-elect McKie* and Holmes*:

The State newspaper reported on 10/23/20 the COVID-19 cases among pre-K-12 for the week. The "fear-mongering" in reporting continues with phrases like "triple digits".

Positive cases since school began: "1,242 student cases and 530 employee cases"

What The State never reports is that there are 756,523 pre-K-12 students in S.C. 
1242/756523 = 0.164%

Richland 2

  • Catawba Trail Elementary: Fewer than 5 employee cases
  • Forest Lake Elementary: Fewer than 5 employee cases
  • L.B. Nelson Elementary: Fewer than 5 student cases
  • Muller Road Middle: Fewer than 5 employee cases
  • North Springs Elementary: Fewer than 5 employee cases
  • Richland Northeast High: Fewer than 5 student cases
  • Spring Valley High: Fewer than 5 student cases and fewer than 5 employee cases
  • Windsor Elementary: Fewer than 5 faculty cases
Actual range of numbers:

Richland 2

  • Catawba Trail Elementary: 1-4 employee cases
  • Forest Lake Elementary: 1-4 employee cases
  • L.B. Nelson Elementary: 1-4 student cases
  • Muller Road Middle: 1-4 employee cases
  • North Springs Elementary: 1-4 employee cases
  • Richland Northeast High: 1-4 student cases
  • Spring Valley High: 1-4 student cases and 1-4 employee cases
  • Windsor Elementary: 1-4 faculty cases (why not "employee"?)
Among students: 3 schools; thus, 3-12 cases

Among employees: 6 schools; thus, 6-24 cases

Aren't you curious whether, among students, there were 3 cases, 12 cases, or some number in-between?

Aren't you curious whether, among employees, there were 6 cases, 24 cases, or some number in-between?

Please ask how many cases, exactly, are being reported by Richland 2.

Aren't you curious as to why no school is ever reporting a higher number than "fewer than five"?

Gus Philpott

* As soon as you take the oath-of-office (legally) and become legitimate members of the School Board, you will be addressed as board members.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

What time?

If you received this email from Richland 2 School District, at what time would you think the school board meeting would start?

 If you clicked on "View Event", you would first see 3:45PM there, too.

Then, if you kept looking and looked closely at the graphic, you would see that the Executive Session starts at 4:30PM and the Open Meeting starts at 5:00PM.

How many of you would keep reading after you first read 3:45PM?

When will McKie pay up?

When will Amelia McKie start paying off her debt to the South Carolina Ethics Commission? She owes $51,750!!!

If you are reading this, send her an email <> and tell her to pay. A judgment was filed in the Richland County Common Pleas court in July 2019. Ask her why she is not making any payments at all. Ask her how she intends to pay it off.

Look up Case No. 2019CP4003809 here:

You might also call your State Senator and your State Representative and ask why the S.C. Department of Revenue is not collecting on the judgment. Good luck getting help from then. State Sen. Mia McLeod and State Rep. Ivory Thigpen ignore my communications to them about McKie's debt.

Since she hasn't paid even since the Ethics Commission entered its Order No. C2017-023 on July 3, 2018, should she even be on the school board?

Where is my answer?

At the October 13th school board, my emailed communication was read to the board. I wrote:

Members of the board,

I request a response from the District to my two questions.

To what extent is The 1619 Project being introduced, taught or discussed in any classrooms in the Richland 2 School District?

If it is not yet in the Richland 2 School District, will the School Board be consulted before it is taught?

I look forward to your response.

I was optimistic that the Board Chair and the superintendent might have been listening. A week has passed, and there has been no reply. I'm not surprised. Board Chair James Shadd has not replied to any communication from me, starting with my email to him on July 4.

There is, of course, a way for me to get the answer, even when the district doesn't want to provide it. I can submit a Freedom of Information Act Request, and I'll receive a reply in two weeks. Is that what it will take?

Candidates' Forum - Replay

 If you missed the October 20th Richland 2 Candidates' Forum and want to know more about their positions, go to and watch the replay.

You say you've already voted? Your mind is made up? You don't care?

Well, I say you'd better care.

The forum was sponsored by the Richland Two Teachers' Association and the League of Women Voters. Patrick Kelly, a Richland 2 teacher, served as Moderator. The LWV was nowhere in sight.

As I watched, I was reminded of a Presidential debate where Pres. Trump found himself facing a Democratic Party moderator. Kelly did a good job of reading the questions to each of the candidates, but I had a strong feeling that too many of the questions were teacher-based; i.e., if you are elected, what are you going to do for us?

The School Board should be composed of stewards who look fairly at all the interests to be represented. Teachers are only one slice of that pie. But they want an ever-increasing share of the money pie. Too much time last night was spent playing the tune sung by the teachers.

But, worse than that, was the tone of most of the candidates. Richland 2 is already leaning far left; i.e., in the progressive direction. One of the candidates was even quite outspoken about it. If you want a progressive candidate, vote for me.

"Culture" was mentioned many times last night. The USA has gone nuts with focus on cultural, diversity, race, sensitivity, privilege. This has got to stop. Teach the subjects that students need to learn to get ahead in the world.

Too many parents and too many voters are not paying attention to the progressive leanings of the district, of the Board, of the Administration, and of the teachers. Students should be educated, not indoctrinated.

More than one candidate mentioned the Premier 100 Men-of-Color program of the superintendent. I'll bet not one of them realizes that the Premier 100 Men-of-Color program is NOT a Richland Two Board-approved program. It is a pet project of the superintendent. Recently, the superintendent even acknowledged at a school board meeting that it is not a project on which he is evaluated. It is his project; it is not a District project.

Why does the current board let him get away with it? Because the majority on the board will let him have anything he wants.

This District's goal should be to hire the best 100 teachers it can - male, female (ignoring the other 51 genders), black, white, brown, yellow, red, who can be hired for what Richland 2 will be paying.

One candidate said the student body is 70% black. Well, the USA is 13% black. Unless all Richland 2 graduates are planning to stay in Columbia, they should learn skills that will enable them to get along in the country and in the world.

Last spring an attorney gave me some great advice. He said, "You ought to run for the school board, because you would have a larger platform for saying what is wrong with the district. But you don't want to win." And he was right! 

Who was it last night who took a poke at dissenting board members? There is a Board Policy that all board members are supposed to toe the line, once a policy is approved. Right now, Richland County's own "Squad" makes the rules in Richland 2, because it has the majority. This does not bode well for Richland 2.

Critical Race Theory & other wacko ideas

How many politicians do we have in the United States with the wisdom of British MP (Tory) Kemi Badenoch? Any idea who she is? Do you know what "MP" is? On which side of the aisle a Tory sits?

Read The Daily Wire for its October 20th article headlined "WATCH: Black British Member Of Parliament Blisters Schools Teaching Critical Race Theory, Supporting BLM Movement".

She calls out people for " 'pretending' that Black Lives Matter is a 'completely wholesome anti-racist organization'." In her spoken words in the video, she refers to Black Lives Matter as an anti-capitalist group.

How does she define Critical Race Theory? " idea that sees my blackness as victimhood and their whiteness as oppression."

She added, "We do not want to see teachers teaching their white pupils about white privilege and inherited racial guilt."

MP Badenoch said (7:19 in the video) her daughter had come home from school and told her, "We're learning black history month, because every other month is about white history." She said, "This is wrong."

Why I am posting this on the Richland 2 Unofficial Blog?

I watched the candidates' forum last night. After it ended, I just shook my head and decided that I was not going to comment. After all, I've already voted. However, after reading this article about MP Badenoch, I have decided that staying silent is wrong.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Who is stealing signs?

About three weeks ago I put out 60 signs for one of the candidates for the Richland 2 school board. Today I put out another 50.

I noticed that some of the previous signs were gone and at least one was torn into 5-6 pieces that were left on the roadside. 

If you see anyone tampering with, defacing or removing signs, call the Sheriff's Department. Get a description of the car and a license plate, and try to get a good look at the driver and passengers. 

While I was out, I stood up another candidate's signs that had been pulled out of the ground and reported to one candidate for State Senate that three of his signs by Rice Creek Elementary School were pulled out of their metal frames and left on the ground. The frames were taken.

Since there are only two candidates on the ballot for State Senate 22, gee, I wonder whose friends or campaign workers damaged Lee Blatt's signs!!!

Be sure to vote for Lee Blatt!!!

And here's an idea for the school board race. If you really only like one, vote only for that one. Then two other candidates won't have higher totals that might bump your favorite candidate.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Remember 2018?

Here's what happened in the Richland 2 School District election on November 6, 2018.

In the November 3, 2020 election there are ten candidates.

Candidate's Forum - when?

Is the school board candidates' forum still scheduled for October 20? Time? Still at R2i2 in-person?

I wonder how concerned the candidates might be about the lack of publicity? 

Is the forum the best-kept secret in Richland County?

The forum is being coordinated by the League of Women Voters (Columbia) and the Richland 2 Teachers Association. The last I heard was that it is scheduled for October 20 at R2i2. I cannot find any mention of it on the Richland 2 website (homepage Calendar) or the Library's website or the League of Women Voters website.

If you search on Google, note that the result is for 2018, not for 2020.

EDITED: Thanks to candidate Lashonda McFadden, who informed me that Richland 2 School Disgtrict tweeted on 10/12/20 that the candidates' forum will be a virtual event on October 20, 2020, at 6:30PM. Go to

EDITED (10/18/20 10:53AM) An announcement of the candidates' forum is now posted on the Richland 2 homepage. Many thanks to Mrs. Libby Roof for her week-end posting.

I wonder if Richland 2 is aware that not everyone reads tweets. And then there are those of us in Twitter Jail who refuse to knuckle under to Twitter's censors. I'll be serving a Life sentence, because I am not going to recant my tweet to Smerconish on 6/6/2020 that looters ought to be shot.

Thanks, Lashonda!

A question of ethics

When a school board member is running for re-election, is it appropriate (ethical? legal? fair?) to wear a polo shirt denoting a current position on the Richland 2 School Board while campaigning?

Was the shirt paid for with public money and provided by the School Board to the trustee? (Hint - I don't ask a question to which I don't already know the answer.)

Could this shirt be worn within 200 feet of a polling place by a candidate on the ballot?

Could a facemask bearing any campaign message be worn within 200 feet of a polling entrance?

A quick check with the S.C. Department of Revenue State Tax Lien Registry today reveals that Shadd still owes $45,880 in unpaid income taxes on five personal income tax liens dating back to 2014. One lien was filed in 2014, one in 2017, two in 2019, and one in 2020. 

EDITED 10/19/20. I heard that some payment had been made but, according to today, the total due on five liens is $46,255.85.

According to SC BIZ NEWS, "The Revenue Department said it exhausted efforts to collect the debts before the names were published, sending letters and making personal contact to attempt to get delinquent taxpayers to comply.

Well, that's a joke. If the State DOR cannot collect monies owed to the State, then get out of the way and turn collection efforts over to private enterprise.

Shadd was elected Board Chair on June 30, 2020. Why would the Board have a tax debtor as Trustee, much less the Board Chair?

What, Me Worry? Look at the Numbers!

Friday's DHEC report of new COVID-19 cases in schools, as reported by The State newspaper, listed these Richland 2 schools:


  • Catawba Trail Elementary School has less than five faculty cases.
  • Forest Lake Elementary School has less than five faculty cases.
  • L.B. Nelson Elementary School has less than five student cases.
  • Muller Road Middle School has less than five faculty cases.
  • North Springs Elementary School has less than five faculty cases.
  • Richland Northeast High School has less than five student cases.
  • Spring Valley High School has less than five student cases and less than five faculty cases.
  • Windsor Elementary School has less than five student cases.
Stated another way:


  • Catawba Trail Elementary School has 1-4 faculty cases.
  • Forest Lake Elementary School has 1-4 faculty cases.
  • L.B. Nelson Elementary School has 1-4 student cases.
  • Muller Road Middle School has 1-4 faculty cases.
  • North Springs Elementary School has 1-4 faculty cases.
  • Richland Northeast High School has 1-4 student cases.
  • Spring Valley High School has 1-4 student cases and 1-4 faculty cases.
  • Windsor Elementary School has 1-4 student cases.
In summary,

Five schools reported 1-4 faculty cases (why "faculty", not employee?)

Four schools reported 1-4 student cases.

Wouldn't exact numbers be more helpful?

There could have been 5-20 faculty cases last week.

There could have been 4-16 student cases last week. 
Out of 27,800 students!

Four cases? 0.014% of student body.
Sixteen cases? 0.057% of student body.

Like Alfred E. Newman said, "What, Me Worry?"

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

McKie's Debt - Still $51,750

How fiscally responsible should a school board trustee be?

Should a board member be able to add and subtract? And get a correct total?

Previous Board Chair and trustee-elect (since Nov. 13, 2018), Amelia McKie, still owes $51,750 to the State Ethics Commission. She has not paid one penny in two years toward her debt. A judgment was filed more than a year ago (July 2019) in the Richland County Common Pleas Court, and apparently the S.C. DOR has not been able to collect on it yet.

Each quarter McKie must file a Campaign Disclosure Report with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. It's a simple report; just a few lines. If you keep decent records, it should take about five minutes to complete and file online. It's a public document. To view her reports, go to  At the top right, click on Public Reporting. Click on Individual Financial Reports. Click on Candidate Reports. In the Candidate Last Name field, type McKie. Click on Next. Click on her name for Election Date 11/6/2018. Select a report; any report.

And it's even simpler and faster to complete and file, if you've had no activity since the last quarterly report. But that doesn't mean you should blindly copy the previous numbers, assuming an error hasn't been made.

McKie has a problem filing the quarterly reports on time. The Report due January 10, 2020 was late (2/11/20). The Report due April 10, 2020 was late (4/16/20). The Report due July 10, 2020 was late (7/16/20). The Report due October 10, 2020 was early (9/10/20) and then amended (10/8/20).

A cursory glance at the Report filed for Filing Period October 10 (and amended) shows an error that is easily noticed, if the filer is paying attention.

McKie reports $8,943.25 in Total Contributions, including none received in the quarter ending 9/30/20.

She reports $5,725.78 in total Expenditures, including none in the quarter. And this is where the error is. 

She lists In-Kind Expenditures of $17.50 and Expenditures of $5,208.28. OK, now you do the math. You've heard of approximating? rounding off; right? If you are using the left side of your brain, you know the sum is going to be approximately $5,225. You know it is not going to be $5,725.78.

Where is the elusive $500 in missing expenditures? This arithmetical error goes back for several reports. Proof, I guess, that the S.C. Ethics Commission doesn't care what you put on your Report; just so long as you file it.

Will any of this matter when McKie is up for re-election in two years? 

Is McKie ever going to pay off her judgment and debt to the Ethics Commission? If she applied her entire School Board Trustee gross monthly income of $800 to it, it will take her 65 months to pay it off. That's 5 years 5 months.

If she pays only $100/month toward it, it will take her 518 months to pay it off. That's 43 YEARS.

Do she intend to pay any of it?

Monday, October 12, 2020

Remember that blackface Tweet at Blythewood H.S.?

On October 1 I submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request to Richland 2 school district for the text of the freshman's tweet that riled up the principal and, therefore, the District. In my FOIA Request I specifically did not request the name of the student.

The FOIA Officer of the District today denied my request, deeming the information protected so as not to identify the student. The District relies on its belief that I would be able to identify the student, if I knew what he had said. I guess I have better investigative or psychic powers than I thought I had.

The District did acknowledge that I could access publicly any social media post that might exist. How nice of them.

The District did provide a copy of the message sent out by Principal Matt Sherman. I would post it here but it is a .pdf copy.

Principal Sherman did state, in part, "We immediately recognized that the tweet was inappropriate and insensitive and took measures to have the post removed."

The school had been "tagged" in the tweet, and I wonder whether the School demanded that the student delete the tweet from his personal Twitter account or only took down the "tag" to the high school. If the school demanded that he deleted his tweet from his personal account, I consider that a gross violation of the student's First Amendment rights.

The principal also used these words: "disappointed and hurt"; pain.

Further, he wrote: "As your principal, I'm even more motivated to help create a culture where everyone is valued and respected." 

Does that include the 9th Grader who posted the tweet? Is he to be valued and respected?

Squashing that student is a good example why Richland 2's cultural sensitive programs and efforts to "promote unity" will fail. Rather than using that tweet as a learning experience, it teaches students (and employees to be secretive and to post comments under names that will not identify them. 

I would like to meet the 9th Grader and his parents. I would like to read that tweet. If you can help me, please email or call. Confidentiality is guaranteed.

Voting Date - coming up

Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, 2020 is 21 days away. 

Many voters have already cast their ballots, either in-person Absentee Voting or by mail-in Absentee Voting. Many will wait and go to the polls on November 3. 

Have you picked your three school board candidates yet?

If not, how will you pick them?

There is candidate information furnished by the League of Women  Most of the candidates have a website.

Good luck in wading through their positions.

How many of the candidates have the background and education to serve on a school board? A position on the board is a Management and Executive position. A school board trustee has a fiduciary responsibility to the voters who provide the funding for the school district.

This is what irritated me to the max when so many board members expressed sympathy for the teachers on May Day 2019, when Richland 2 had to close its schools because so many teachers decided to take the day off to demonstrate at the State House grounds. 

The Board failed to make certain that a day of education was provided to 27,000 students. The Board failed to direct the superintendent weeks ahead to take such actions as would keep the schools open. The superintendent failed to direct principals to accept only a limited number of requests for personal days off and to forestall the ploy by teachers to violate their contracts by a common stop-work action led by SCforED. Many on the board spoke in support of the teachers and said they would attend the demonstration. That's Management???

The Board is the Employer. The teachers (and staff) are the Employees. But the current board has not acted as Executives, Managers, Employer. 

Search the candidates for those who will direct, not follow. 

Friday, October 9, 2020

Open Letter to School Board re COVID-19

The following is being emailed to the Richland 2 School Board:

Members of the board and trustees-elect McKie and Holmes,

I hope you will ask the superintendent on Tuesday night, during Item 8.2, just exactly how many (or how few) student cases there actually were in this report on today.

Richland 2

  • Catawba Trail Elementary: Fewer than 5 employee cases
  • Forest Lake Elementary: Fewer than 5 employee cases
  • L.B. Nelson Elementary: Fewer than 5 student cases
  • Muller Road Middle: Fewer than 5 employee cases
  • North Springs Elementary: Fewer than 5 employee cases
  • Richland Northeast High: Fewer than 5 student cases
  • Spring Valley High: Fewer than 5 student cases and fewer than 5 employee cases
  • Windsor Elementary: Fewer than 5 faculty cases
"Fewer than five" means 1-4.

Re-stating The State's numbers:

Richland 2

  • Catawba Trail Elementary: 0 student cases; 1-4 employee cases
  • Forest Lake Elementary: 0 student cases; 1-4 employee cases
  • L.B. Nelson Elementary: 1-4 student cases; 0 employee cases
  • Muller Road Middle: 0 student cases; 1-4 employee cases
  • North Springs Elementary: 0 student cases; 1-4 employee cases
  • Richland Northeast High: 1-4 student cases; 0 employee cases
  • Spring Valley High: 1-4 student cases and 1-4 employee cases
  • Windsor Elementary: 0 student cases; 1-4 faculty cases
Summary; for eight (8) schools,
3-12 student cases
6-24 employee cases

Please ask 
How many student cases, exactly?
How many employee cases, exactly?

The Day 10 enrollment was 27,822.
12/27822 = 0.043%

Does this justify keeping schools closed?

Thank you.

Gus Philpott


Will 11/2020 be a repeat of 11/2018?

Now is the time for the Richland 2 School Board to review the timeline for seating newly-elected members after the General Election in November.

Hopefully, it will avoid the legal errors made in November 2018, which remain uncorrected to this day. The result of those errors has been that two women have been allowed to usurp public office and pretend to be board members for almost two years. And get paid with public monies for doing so.

Here's the timeline:

November 3 General Election. Three seats on the Richland 2 School Board are to be filled. With ten candidates in the fray, could there be some ties that would have to be broken in a run-off?

November 6 Expected certification of the election by the Richland County Elections Commission, if there is no run-off.

November 10. School Board meeting. This date is before the legal beginning of the 2020-2024 term-of-office.

November 13 The legal Beginning Date of the 2020-2024 term-of-office of newly-elected board members, if the election is certified on November 6. (S.C. Code of Laws Section 59-19-315)

December 8 First school board meeting after the legal Beginning Date of the 2020-2024 term-of-office of the three trustees elected on November 3.

While a qualified trustee-elect could be sworn in after the election is certified on November 6 (if it is), the trustee-elect can only take the oath of office after she or he has filed the Statement of Economic Interests Report with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. This is where Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes ran afoul of State Law in 2018. Neither has ever taken the oath of office legally.

If Lindsay Agostini and Monica Elkins-Johnson are re-elected, they would continue serving in their 2016-2020 terms until November 13. Then they would begin their new terms.

If James Shadd is not re-elected, November 10 will be his last meeting. The Board Chair's position will be vacated.

In normal times the Vice-Chair would ascend to duties in the absence of a Chair. However, the Vice-Chair is Teresa Holmes, who is not a legitimate member of the Richland 2 School Board. In spite of her never having taken the oath-of-office legally, the Board elected her as Vice-Chair on June 30, 2019.

The Richland 2 School Board should hold an election on December 8.

SECTION 59-19-70. Chairman and clerk of board.

"The trustees shall, as soon as practicable after the appointment of any new trustee, organize by the election of one of their members as chairman and another as clerk of the board. The chairman shall preside at meetings of the board and perform other duties imposed on him under the law, and the clerk shall keep a record of the proceedings of all meetings in a book provided for that purpose and perform all other duties required of him by law." 

Richland 2 ignored that law in November 2018. It routinely elects officers for the following year at the last meeting in June, which coincides with the end of the fiscal year. Doing so creates a problem with continuity of the officers. If a trustee holding a position as an officer is not re-elected, then a successor must be elected. 

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Students (and Parents): Pay Attention to SCOTUS Appointment

Today's students have an infrequent opportunity to pay close attention to a Presidential appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States. SCOTUS has only nine judges, called Justices, and this year's opening is attracting great attention because it is occurring during an election cycle.

Read this two-page summary of Amy Coney Barrett, who is President Trump's nominee for appointment.

Read about and understand the political battle that is raging. Get the facts, Understand why this appointment is so important. Understand the legality and the timing.

In other words, educate yourself.

Don't fall for the pitch that the nomination should be deferred until after election day (November 3) or after the Electoral College votes (December 14) or after Inauguration Day (January 20). Don't fall for the pitch that it's "unfair" for President Trump to get to appoint to the Court. President Trump is the President, and it is the President's right and duty to fill the seat on the Supreme Court. Why should he not do so?

Do you know how the Electoral College works or votes? Do you know when the Electoral College votes are counted? Do you know what a Faithless Elector is?

A full Court of nine Justices means no tie votes. The Court's business continues, as it should. 

Re-elect Lindsay Agostini

In the 2½ years I have been attending board meetings of the Richland 2 School District, Lindsay has been the single board member who has arrived at board meetings prepared with questions and comments on agenda items. She spends many hours every week on Richland 2 business, far beyond her specific board duties.

The board should have elected her as Board Chair on June 30.

Eighteen months ago she was Board Secretary, and she resigned from that office rather than attest to the signature of Amelia McKie as Board Chair. Lindsay disagreed with statements in a board resolution and wisely chose to avoid becoming personally liable by signing to something that was not true.

The rest of the board should have agreed with her and corrected the problem by requiring McKie to take the oath of office and become a legal board member. The board should also require Teresa Holmes to take the oath of office and become a legal board member.

This year Lindsay suffered the indignity of disrespectful comments by the superintendent and also a racial slur by a personal friend of the current Board Chair. Reference to that slur was posted on Facebook by a local attorney who benefits financially as a result of the superintendent's direction to the large school-bond law firm that handles Richland 2 bond work. 

Lindsay is often the Lone Ranger on the board, when it comes to toeing the line on proper and legal ways to do business. 

She deserves the support of every voter on November 3rd.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

School Board to Silence Free Speech?

Should teachers have the right to criticize a school district's racial-equity plan? Should a school board be able to control "all forms of public and personal communication" of teachers? Control any form of it?

It's not happening in Richland 2 School District (yet), but an attempt is being made by the Loudon County (Va.) Public Schools Distict Board to do just that. Loudon County is northwest of Washington, D.C. - you know, that bastion of freedom, free speech,  protector of all rights? Yeah, sure... that one... One media source reports that the proposed provision is "hidden" in a professional-conduct policy proposal.

Imagine that. Buried in a "professional-conduct" policy proposal. Who would ever think to look there?

Whenever words like "equity", "discrimination", "injustice", "restoration", "cultural diversity" etc. begin appearing in proposed policies, it is time (actually, it is past time) for the public to not only sit up and take notice, but it is time for the public to stand up and speak out 

It's harder now, because the Richland 2 School Board continues to shelter-in-place behind Zoom and Livestream, preventing the public from showing up at "public", open meetings. The Board makes small talk about re-opening schools, but nary a word is heard about re-opening school board meetings. The public is forced to line up between about Friday 2:00PM and Tuesday 1:00PM and only submit written comments.

Those comments are then speed-read to the board, while some on the board could be napping behind turned-off cameras (but sometimes forgetting to mute microphones). Who knows if they are even still "in the room"? They could be in their kitchens, waiting for the pizza to show its golden-brown crust and come out of the oven, or chatting on the phone with other members of their clique. 

By the way, when you hear a board member's voice while Mrs. Roof is speed-reading a parent's letter, that may not be the only board member who is not paying attention. To whom was she speaking? Someone passing through the room? To another board member on the phone?

This is why board members' cameras should be on at all times. The audience is entitled to know who is listening and who is rolling her eyes at what a parent has written. The audience is entitled to know which board member is not paying attention and who is reading or sending email or texts. 

The School Board's practice? To turn off the cameras while Mrs. Roof is reading the letters. A bad practice. I have complained about it. Has anyone else? 

Friday, October 2, 2020

How could "black" for freshmen be a problem?

Blythewood High School ...

Spirit Week ...

During the week before the homecoming game, The State newspaper reported that "students were asked to wear different colors for their class — 

gold for seniors, 

white for juniors, 

blue for sophomores and 

black for freshmen."

Now I know that school administrators are overworked, overwhelmed, stretched beyond limits - - can't have open schools, but let's have a football game.

What could possibly go wrong with picking "black" as the color for freshmen? I guess there was no time to think through that one.

Maybe administrators at Blythewood H.S. should be in the sights of the District Administration, not a freshman student.

What, exactly, did that freshman post on social media that provoked a two-page press release by the District? And what did the Blythewood H.S. principal put in his "oh, I'm so sorry" letter to parents?

Does anyone know? If you'll let me know, I'll post it right here, so all lcan know. Email it to  (I'll leave your name out.)