Monday, November 30, 2020

The 1619 Project? - Teach THIS to Students

Do you know what The 1619 Project is?

Watch this new PragerU video.

Why did a group of historians, almost all on the Left according to the speaker in this video, call The 1619 Project a "distortion of historical understanding by ideology"?

Watch this PragerU video presented by Wilfred Reilly, Associate Professor of Political Science at Kentucky State University.

Richland 2 - going, going, gone Woke

This article by Charles Fain Lehman in the November 30, 2020 Washington Free Beacon is a must-read! Titled "America's High Schools Go Woke", it contains many very familiar words - words often heard at Richland 2 school board meetings.

What words?

Racism. Injustice. Diversity. mandatory Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training  systemic racism. Racial bias. Insensitivity. Director of Diversity. 

Other words in the article got my attention and caused me to think of Richland 2 School District.

Critical Race Theory. Diversity consultancies (think Gloria Boutte). Racial discontent. The 1619 Project (still waiting for the District to reply to my question at the board meeting about the extent this is being taught in schools).

Robin DiAngelo's book White Fragility is mentioned. I checked that out of the Richland Library, read a few pages and returned it. It has one good use - wrap the fish in it.

What's the REAL problem at Richland 2? There isn't any actual racism, except for all the talk about racism. They are creating a problem, so they can impose an expensive solution for it. This is the problem. The progressive influence on education. 

Get back to the basics.

Is Racism Dead?

Larry Elder SHUTS DOWN Racism. Really? Take time right now to listen and watch.

He opens with "Have you ever noticed some people search for racism, even when the alleged victim of racism doesn't believe he or she is a victim of racism?"

Toward the end of his show, he quotes Thomas Sowell.

"Racism is not dead, but it is on life support - kept alive by politicians, race hustlers and people who get a sense of superiority by denouncing others as 'racists.'" 

Why was I reminded of a Richland County person who is insinuating that my complaints about her almost-official position on a school board are racially motivated?

Maybe she is viewing the world through race-tinted glasses. Thanks, Larry.

Friday, November 27, 2020

The Problem with the Nov. 17 Special Meeting

The Special-Called Board Meeting on November 17 had three important items on the agenda.

1. Elect a Board Chair;

2. Nominate a board member to the South Carolina School Boards Association; and

3. Discuss the SCSBA Resolutions on which the SCSBA Nominee would be expected to vote.

Success on No. 1. Failure on Numbers 2 and 3.

#1 James Manning was elected by the board to serve for a "couple of months" (as described multiple times by Acting Chair Teresa Holmes), but actually for more than seven months until June 30, 2021.

Let's take #3 next.

Richland 2 "staff" and the superintendent looked at all the (36?) SCSBA Resolutions, at least to some extent, and recommended them. If you listen carefully to the superintendent's wording, at times he was close to saying that "he" reviewed all of them, but what he really said was that his staff and he had reviewed them. And he called out 11 of them for special attention.

To me that meant that 11 of them needed discussion by the board and a decision made whether to support them or not.

 Mrs. Agostini brought up at the beginning of the meeting that, because of the wording of the agenda, no vote could be taken on the Resolutions. The board could have amended the agenda to allow a vote. Did Holmes know that?

And that's exactly what happened. Mrs. Agostini brought up several of the Resolutions and commented on them.

Why didn't any of the other Trustees (or Trustees-elect) bring up questions? Mrs. McFadden gets a pass. She has since said she read all the Resolutions and took notes. Much of it may have been Greek to her, because November 17 was her first Richland 2 board meeting. But what about Holmes? McKie? Manning? Caution-Parker? Had they read and studied all the Resolutions?

What about the "special attention" brought to 11 of the Resolutions by the superintendent? How will McKie know what the will of the Richland 2 Board is, since the board did not vote one way or the other on the superintendent's stated support of all of them? What she knows is that staff supports them (or most of them), but she won't really know whether the board does!

Without guidance from the board, the FACT is that the board has not voted to support ANY of the Resolutions.

Why is #2 a Failure? Amelia McKie can't serve as the District's representative to the SCSBA, because she is not a legal Richland 2 board member.

And, if she were, she would have no guidance from Richland 2 on any discussion or vote on them.

What did Board Chair Manning mean when he briefly commented that Trustee Caution-Parker will be the representative at "that" meeting (the meeting at which the Resolutions would be voted on?)?

There are supposed to be seven wise people on the Richland 2 elected board. Right now there are only five legal trustees. The jury is out on the level of wisdom with which some of them direct Richland 2.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Nov. 17 Special-Called Board Meeting - a joke

Why did Trustee Agostini called the November 17th meeting a "joke"?

Watch the meeting on YouTube and it will be clear.

The Richland 2 nominee to the South Carolina School Boards Association is supposed to represent Richland 2 (and Richland 1).

The superintendent read off numerous Resolutions that will come before the SCSBA in December for a vote. Mrs. Agostini suggested that the nominee (currently, Trustee-elect Amelia McKie) should know what the position of Richland 2 was on each Resolution. 

This make 100% sense; right? And how would McKie know, if the Board didn't discuss, make a decision, and vote to instruct her?

What Legislative Resolutions (of the SCSBA) did the superintendent mention? At 18:20 on the video timer:

Staff recommends supporting all Resolutions, with special attention to Numbers 7, 9, 13, 16, 17, 19, 24, 30, 33, 35, and 36.

What are they? Ah, not a word. They were buried in the board packet distributed to board members before the meeting.

Which board members read them? My guess is that Agostini and Elkins read them.

Did Caution-Parker? Holmes? McFadden? Manning? McKie?

Care to place any bets?

Dr. Elkins wisely asked whether they would be any discussion of those SCSBA proposed Resolutions or would it just be up to Amelia McKie?

Mrs. Agostini had obviously read the board packet and the Resolutions, because she wanted to discuss Numbers 2, 6, 25, 28, and 31. 

Manning said something about Caution-Parker's being the representative at "that" meeting; yet she did not open her mouth and ask even one question. Had she even read and studied all the Resolutions?

Mrs. Agostini was right. That whole "discussion" item was a waste of time.

One more mess to correct

The Richland 2 School Board now has one more mess to clean up.

At the November 17, 2020 special-called board meeting Amelia McKie was voted on as the District's representative to the South Carolina School Boards Association. She will serve as the SCSBA's Region 8 (Richland 1 and Richland 2) Director.

The problem?

For McKie to serve on the SCSBA, she must first be a member of the Richland 2 School Board. She is not.

Because she has never taken the oath of office legally, McKie is not a member of the Richland 2 school board. She, like Teresa Holmes, is a trustee-elect (only). So McKie cannot serve on the SCSBA board of directors.

When I addressed this with the SCSBA, the executive director, Scott Price, responded on November 16, 2020 with this message:

"With all due respect, it is not up to you to determine anyone's eligibility for the SCSBA Board of Directors.  Nor is it up to you to determine whether someone is a "bonafide" member of the Richland 2 board of trustees."

McKie (and Holmes) violated state law by taking the oath of office before they filed their Statements of Economic Interests with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. They became eligible to take the oath on December 4, 2018, after they filed their SEIs. They have never done so.

One of these days the Richland 2 School Board is going to have to go back and correct everything that it has done, on and since November 13, 2018, if the vote was by votes of McKie and Holmes. 

This is not a case of "possession is 9/10th of the law." They don't get to claim their seats on the board just because they've kept them warm for two years.

What would YOU do?

I received this email from School Board Trustee-elect Teresa Holmes this morning. She sent it at 12:21AM today.

Mr. Philpott,

I have been more than patient and have excused you slanderous/liable behavior long enough. I will be speaking to my attorney on Monday and I am planning to take legal action against you.  Enough is enough.  You are well aware that what you are saying is not true  which, the state of SC has given you in writing. Additionally, you have been asked several times to stop repeating slanderous statements. It's unfortunate that your motives are seemingly racially motivated with,  a poor attempt to hide behind pretending that you are not a racist by using a beard / beards to cover your true intentions and hateful nature. 

Dr. Teresa Holmes 

What would you do?

I remember my interview at the Richland County Sheriff's Department on March 20, 2019, after Holmes filed a report accusing me of harassing her. The meeting was with a Sergeant Investigator and the Deputy Chief of the Criminal Investigations Division. 

After I pointed out that the deputy's report, based on Holmes' statements, contained nothing but lies, the Deputy Chief quickly decided that no crime had been committed.

At one point the sergeant said, in a harsh tone, "You just want these women kicked off the board!"

I paused and then responded calmly. "No, I just want them to take the oath of office and become legal members of the board."

That was 18 months ago. They still haven't taken the oath of office - legally.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Teresa Holmes for Board Chair? Seriously?

At the November 17, 2020 special-called board meeting, trustee-elect Teresa Holmes threw her bonnet in the ring for future Board Chair.

Seriously? She is not even a legal board member. She is not a legal board Vice Chair (because she isn't a legal board member). And she brashly started her own campaign to lead Richland 2 School District's board.

Watch the beginning of this board meeting. Her pitch starts at 1:50 on the timer.

She claimed a "moment of privilege for just a second to say something".

Listen carefully. She wanted the public to understand that the person elected that night would only serve for the "next couple of months". She repeated that at least three times. Does she not know that there are seven full months until the next board election of officers?

I was reminded of what Ph.D. often stands for. Piling it Higher and Deeper. That she did.

She didn't need to say any of that. If she was nominated, she could have declined. And that would have been the end of it.

But she was giving a formal heads-up to The Squad that, come June 22, 2021, she expects to be selected as the board chair for 2021-2022. And don't get in the way of that gavel. y'all.

Notice the way she opened the meeting. She grabbed that gavel like she was the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Was it really necessary to rap the gavel five times to silence the multitudes?

The room was already silent. I don't recall any Board Chair ever having to demand the silence of the room. Others just gently started the meeting with calling the meeting to order.

Complacency or Complicity

How serious a matter is it for the Richland 2 Board of Trustees not to force Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes to either step away from the board or to take the oath of office legally?

The only response I have received from the school district is that the Board cannot address the issue. That's the lie of the century.

If the five legal members of the board cannot address two women who have been usurping public office for TWO YEARS, what else can they do or not do?

When James Shadd did not attend his final board meeting on November 10, 2020 (reportedly due to self-quarantining after a family member's positive COVID test), the Board did NOT have a quorum. But it conducted business by erroneously counting trustees-elect McKie and Holmes as legitimate board members. Since they have never taken the oath of office legally, they are not board members.

The FBI and SLED have been asked to investigate why Richland School District Two has been paying out public monies illegally to trustees-elect McKie and Holmes. They are not entitled to receive monthly pay for attending board meetings, and they are not entitled to have association membership fees paid or be reimbursed for any expenses. The School District should stop paying them and bill them to recover the monies paid out illegally.

The S.C. Attorney General's Office has been asked again to charge McKie and Holmes with usurping 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;

(2) When any public officer, civil or military, shall have done or suffered an act which, by the provisions of law, shall make a forfeiture of his office; or...

The immediate solution is simple. The oath of office should be administered to them, this time legally. They became eligible to take the oath of office on December 4, 2018, after the filed finally their Statements of Economic Interests (thanks to The Independent Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County newspaper).

McKie and Holmes have never taken the oath of office for the 2018-2022 term legally.

SECTION 8-3-10. Oath and commission prerequisite to assumption of duties.

It shall be unlawful for any person to assume the duties of any public office until he has taken the oath provided by the Constitution and been regularly commissioned by the Governor.

It can be understood that this statute means "taken the oath" legally.

When the five legal trustees have knowledge of the illegal presence of McKie and Holmes on the Board, do they individually become complicit in the violation of state law? Do they condone the presence of McKie and Holmes on the board by not raising at every meeting that McKie and Holmes are illegally present at the board seats?

Even if the minority group of trustees cannot get a Motion passed to remove McKie and Holmes, they should try it at every meeting, so that there is an official record of their attempt.

The problem, of course, is getting it on the agenda at all. Board Chair Manning will be slow to act, and the superintendent doesn't want it on the agenda. But at every meeting a Trustee could request that it be added to the agenda for the next meeting. It'll be voted down by the majority, but it will be on the record.

And then the voters can decide at the November 2022 election how they feel about about the "majority" on the board.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Race and Richland 2

What is being taught about race in Richland 2? 

Check out this article by Dennis Prager. The title is What American Schools Should Teach About Race, Racism, and Slavery

Do you know what The 1619 Project is? Dennis Prager summarizes it as "that the United States was founded to preserve and protect slavery".

Have you looked at the book White Fragility? Don't waste your time buying it. I started reading it and quickly abandoned it. If you want to save your money and waste some time, the Richland Library system has both the e-book and audiobook. (Let me guess why...)

Is the District still buying and indoctrinating teachers with Gloria Boutte's "Culturally Relevant Pedagogy" training? I'm still laughing over former-Trustee James Shadd's defense of young, black men in classrooms who tend to "speak loudly". All I could think of at that board meeting was how a white teacher was supposed to respond, when some young, black man stood up in a classroom and spoke "loudly" and disrespectfully. At that meeting James Manning finally came to the rescue of white teachers before the discussion ended.

I don't care if the students (or teachers) are black, white, brown, yellow, red. There should be one expected decorum in the classroom. Period.

If you have any information that The 1619 Project is being taught in the classrooms of Richland 2, please let me know.

How long must I wait?

 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.

Today is November 21, 2020. I am guessing that I shall not be receiving a reply from the Richland 2 Board or the superintendent.

The Board may or may not be listening, when the question is asked. Their eyes may be open; their ears are in working order but may be tuned in elsewhere. And some of their minds? It's anyone's guess.

Here is why you will never receive an answer to any question asked of the board.

1. The Board does not discuss any comments or answer any questions at a board meeting.

2. The Board does not formally ask or direct the superintendent to respond to any comment or question from the audience.

3. The superintendent will not take it upon himself to answer any question or respond to a comment. He'll excuse his lack of response by saying that the board never told him to respond.

Where does this leave the member of the audience or of the public?

You can write directly to the superintendent; or

You can file a FOIA Request with the District. For information and the email address of the FOIA Officer, go to the District's website and search for "FOIA".

I recently did submit a FOIA Request to the FOIA Officer. My email was undeliverable. When I forwarded my returned email to R2 Public Affairs, I was informed that the FOIA Officer's name had changed. A few days later the name and email address were correctly shown on the District's website.

Then I suggested a better email address would be "" 

Let's hope that the District preserved all of the emails sent to and from the previous email address. A better step would have been an auto-forwarding of the first email, with advice to the sender that the email address had changed.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Is this happening in Richland 2?

 Are girls in Richland 2 sports being beaten out by boys? 

Watch this video. Are transgender boys competing against girls in our school district?

If they aren't (yet), keep a close eye out and get organized now to prevent it from happening.

It's. Just. Wrong.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Abbott & Costello Routine - alive and well in Richland County

Depending on your age, you will be familiar with the old routine by Abbott & Costello, "Who's on First?"

I feel like I am on the field right here in Richland County. 

Somewhere, somebody knows the answer and is going to lead to the right office.

The Goal? Either get McKie and Holmes off the Richland 2 School Board or get them to take the oath of office and become legitimate members of the board.

Where have I been?

Richland School District TWO

Sheriff of Richland County

Solicitor of Richland County

S.C. Attorney General (AG)

Back to the Sheriff

Back to the AG

S.C. Department of Education

S.C. School Boards Association



Back to the AG's office

Back to SLED

Richland County Elections Commission

Richland County District 8 Rep. (Manning)

S.C. State Rep. Ivory Thigpen

S.C. State Senator Mia McLeod

The South Carolina Supreme Court would hear a case about usurping public office in a matter of days. The matter would go to the front of the docket. That's how important protecting public office is.

The AG should have taken my complaint and run with it. 

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;

Surely, I cannot be the only resident in Richland 2 who thinks the School District should follow the law.

Why won't the District and the Board require trustees-elect McKie and Holmes to take the oath of office legally?

Recover the Money!

On November 17, 2020 the board voted to approve Amelia McKie as its nominee for Region 8 Director to sit on the South Carolina School Boards Association. McKie was previously at the SCSBA without official designation or authorization and should not have been there.

She has already been inserting herself in the SCSBA - but not legitimately. Perhaps she should have devoted that "spare" time to a part-time job, so that she could make some payments on her $51,750 debt to the S.C. Ethics Commission.

Richland 2 should recover all public monies for her to participate in SCSBA functions. 

There are two trustees who pay attention to what the other five will call "the small stuff". 

The public should appreciate the close attention of Lindsay Agostini and Monica Elkins. They are the trustees to whom Lashonda McFadden should look for guidance, training, mentoring, advice.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Worst Meeting Ever (corrected)

You must watch the beginning of the Special Called Board Meeting for November 17, 2020. I'm so glad that I viewed it online and did not waste my time going to R2i2. I probably would have pulled a "Joe Wilson" and shouted "You lie."

Teresa Holmes, as Vice-Chair (although not really), opened the meeting. Notice right from the top how many times she pounded the gavel on the table. The room was quiet and waiting to begin. How many times? Five. FIVE! One rap would have been enough. Was she feeling the power of the Chair?

The first order of business was the approval of the agenda. Why aren't trustees ready to respond as soon as the Chair calls for the motion. Actually, the interval was pretty short this week. Shorter than usual.

The next item on the agenda was the nomination for a Board Chairman, (who would succeed James Shadd and serve until June 30, 2021).

Before she even called for a motion, Holmes grabbed the floor tooted her own horn by making a long-winded statement that, should she be nominated, she would prefer to serve out her term as Vice Chair. At least three times she referred to the period between this meeting (November 17, 2020) and the end of the School Year (June 30, 2021) as a "couple of months". She's got a Ph.D. Can't she count? November, December, January, February, March, April, May, June. Looks like seven-plus months to me. She spoke some drivel about the pandemic being the reason for not considering her as Board Chair until the June election for the board officers for 2021-2022.

She babbled on and on about the need for "consistency" during the pandemic. She showed clearly her lack of understanding of how business boards function. It was clear that she wants to be Board Chair. Maybe one of her friends on The Squad told her that she would be nominated. Her reasoning and plea were unnecessary and very poorly presented.

Talk about ego and being presumptious!!! 

There was a very simple way for her to avoid being considered as an interim Board Chair. If she had been nominated, when asked if she accepted the nomination, all she would have to do is say a single word. "No." Listen for yourself to her grandstanding and to her statement that she does want to be Board Chair.

What was she really saying? "Pick me. Pick me. Pick me - but later." Like a kid on a playground.

You can be sure that The Squad will nominate her in June 2021.

It's for the children, don't you know? Consistency is needed. Baloney!

Somebody should have interrupted her with "Point of Order!"

At 03:45 on the timer the superintendent took charge of the meeting (without a proper introduction) to read the procedure for board officer elections (as they happen in June). There was no reason whatsoever to read all of that for the election of a single officer at this time. In fact, he ignored state law, when he said they would nominate and elect only the Board Chair.

State law dictates that TWO officers were to be elected, but the Richland 2 Board and superintendent ignored it.

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.

The Secretary of the Board is the "clerk" referred to in the law. Richland 2 failed to elect a clerk/Secretary tonight.

A question was asked of the superintendent whether a second was need. He said there wasn't. Then he was asked if there was discussion. Again he said there was not.

Here's a question. What if a member knew of information that, if the board knew about it, they would not elect the nominee? We'll never know. (I have no reason to think that was the case regarding Mr. Manning's nomination.)

Dr. Elkins wanted some discussion, but the superintendent said Robert's Rules of Order didn't call for discussion following a nomination, although it does for a Motion. But Robert's doesn't say you cannot have discussion. Elkins failed to make that follow-up point and assert her privilege of speaking. I can't imagine what she wanted to "discuss", since there was only one nomination. But why wasn't she allowed to say what she wanted to say? And why didn't she demand the time to speak?

Dr. Franklin summarized from her copy and found nothing about discussion. The superintendent said he had done his own research. Discussion should have been allowed.

James Manning was nominated and elected (5-2 vote) to serve as Board Chair until June 30, 2021.

At 12:55 on the timer, the superintendent turned the meeting over to the elected Chair, James Manning. 

Be sure to watch Holmes tell him to "Come get your gavel." Whoa! Wait just a minute. She should have gotten up and taken the gavel to him. What was that all about??? The superintendent stood up and delivered the gavel. 

Bad move, Teresa. You don't deserve to ever be Chair!

At 13:25 then the real game of the evening began. This was the nomination of a Region 8 Director for the South Carolina School Boards Association (SCSBA).

Manning explained that there was already a letter into the SCSBA for McKie to be on their board. "Somebody" brought to the board's attention that they needed to do it correctly and vote on it. 

Agostini was nominated and McKie was nominated. At this point Dr. Elkins raised a question about the letter. That was the wrong time for her question. There was a motion on the floor. It should have been seconded before discussion or questions.

The "somebody" who brought it to the attention of the Richland 2 board was Trustee Agostini. Dr. Elkins asked why the nomination was on tonight's agenda. The SCSBA wanted the board to vote to confirm the action that had previously been taken and the letter that had been sent that named McKie. So the Board was being asked to retroactively approve something that a single board member had done. The Board was being asked to clean up a mess that Manning had created when he was Chair. 

Manning also disallowed further discussion, based on the false position of the superintendent. 

With two nominees for the one position on the SCSBA board, Manning should have called for a paper vote. Instead, he asked, in fairness to all, for a vote on the first nomination. The entire room could not be seen on the Zoom broadcast, and the vote was not announced. It was probably 2-5. (See the next vote.) Well,, that was fair, wasn't it? NOT. There should have been a secret vote, with only the result announced!!!

Then McKie was voted on, and the vote was 5-2.

No record of the vote was shown to the public. Who voted against Mrs. Agostini? My guess is that The Squad voted against her, with a little help from their friends.

Dr. Elkins wisely asked how long the Region 8 Director would serve on behalf of Richland 2. Only until the end of the 2020-2021 School Year? No, it's for the remainder of the SCSBA term, 2020-2024.

The Region 8 Director serves Richland 1 and Richland 2, and Amelia McKie slid into that position in some mysterious fashion after Richland 1's Jamie Devine vacated the post. Manning authored a letter when he was chair of the board. He said he had the support of the board, but there never was a vote that selected McKie as the Region 8 Director.

Mrs. Agostini made an emphatic statement that the Board had never voted on McKie's appointment to the SCSBA Board Region 8 Director position, which is a four-year term (McKie was serving the remainder of Jamie Devine's term).

The new member of the board, Lashonda McFadden, lined right up with The Squad. I wonder how many phone calls she got from "certain" board members to encourage her to support McKie.


Amelia McKie cannot serve as the SCSBA Region 8 Director, because she is not a legal member of the Richland 2 School Board.

The problem of two illegitimate board members continues. All McKie and Holmes have to do to become legitimate board members is raise their right hands and be sworn in. They became eligible to take the oath of office on December 4, 2018, when they filed their Statements of Economic Interests with the South Carolina Ethics Commission.

Is anyone disgusted about this?

[EDITED 11/18/20 3:30PM after the video-recording was published.]

Expiration Date?

For several months I have wondered whether there is an expiration date on a trustee-elect qualification to take an oath of office.

If a candidate for office wins an election but never takes the oath of office, is the office really vacant?

The situation in the Richland 2 School District is this.

Two candidates in the November 6, 2018 election were voted into office. However, they have never legally taken the oath of office. Two years have passed.

They have usurped public office by sitting on the board, and the Board and the District have allowed them to do that. 

They took an oath of office on November 13, 2018, but that was before they were eligible to do so. They took the oath illegally, and that's the same as never having taken it at all.

They became eligible to take the oath of office (legally) on December 4, 2018, but they have not done so.

What will the Richland County Elections Commission say? Has the period for taking the oath (legally) expired?

The November 10, 2020 Board meeting did not have a quorum, but the meeting was held anyway. One of these days the District is going to have to go all the way back to November 13, 2018 and fix all the mistakes that have occurred. The District should also recover all monies paid to, and for the benefit of, those two trustees-elect.

Monday, November 16, 2020

SCSBA - Hear No Evil

You know about the three wise monkeys; right? Hear No Evil (Kikazaru); Speak No Evil (Iwazaru); See No Evil (Mizaru).

Kikazaru is alive and well at the South Carolina School Boards Association. Last week I copied the Executive Director and the current President of the SCSBA on correspondence to the Richland 2 School Board.

Both the Executive Director (Scott Price) and the current President (Chuck Saylors, of Greenville County) have replied to me and have told me to delete their names from my email list.

What did Saylors say late last week? "If you have so many issues with this Board, put your name on a ballot! PLEASE take me OFF your distribution list."

What did Price say today? "With all due respect, it is not up to you to determine anyone's eligibility for the SCSBA Board of Directors.  Nor is it up to you to determine whether someone is a "bonafide" member of the Richland 2 board of trustees."

These are certainly interesting responses from people at the top of a state organization.

I won't engage in a battle of words with them, because I'm not interesting in "winning". But their directions not to email them again are worthless. If I want to write to them again, I'll do it. They seem to think I have their names on a "distribution list". I don't. I sent copies of my email to them because, in their positions with a State organization, they ought to know when something is wrong.

What's wrong at the SCSBA? 

A Regional Director of the SCSBA should be a legal member of the local school board that is an SCSBA Member. If the Regional Director is not a legal/legitimate/bonafide member of the local school district, that person cannot be a Regional Director of the SCSBA.

Amelia McKie has been the SCSBA Region 8 Director for Richland 1 and Richland 2. To become a bonafide school board member of Richland 2, all she needs to do is take the oath of office - legally. She has been eligible to do since December 4, 2018.

Is that too hard for an educated person to understand?

Does Richland 2 Board have a Clerk?

At the November 10, 2020 work session (Special Called Board Meeting), the agenda indicates that a Chair is to be elected from among the board members.

Here's the state law that is relevant:

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.

Because only a (legal) board member can be an officer of the board, this will mean that the choice for Chair must be made from Agostini, Elkins, Manning, Caution-Parker or McFadden. And the choice for Clerk (Secretary) must be made from the four left after the Chair is elected.

The Agenda, as it stands at 7:50AM today, does not indicate that the board will follow the state law and elect a "Clerk". This has been called to the attention of the board and the superintendent.

Because the duties of the "Clerk" are defined as keeping "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", it is easy to see that the position of Clerk in this statute is the same as the title given by the board of Secretary.

Thus, the District should be planning to elect a Clerk (Secretary) tomorrow, but that election is not on the agenda.

Will the District say, "We don't have a Clerk"?

What about the part of the statute that says 'The trustees shall"?

The District has played fast and loose with its "interpretations" of South Carolina law.

At the November 10, 2020 board meeting the District admitted, in the superintendent's words, that it had erroneously "interpreted" the state law about the beginning date of the term-of-office for a newly-elected trustee. It made that error in 2018, 2016, 2014 and 2010. The reason it didn't make that error in 2012 was the delay in certification of the election by the Richland County Elections Commission.

The District is also apparently misinterpreting the statute for swearing in a new trustee. In 2018 the District administered the oath of office to McKie and Holmes before they had filed their Statements of Economic Interests with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. That was a violation of S.C. Code of Laws 8-13-1110(A). It allowed McKie and Holmes to commence official duties before they filed their SEIs. And it has allowed them for two years to do their duties, although neither has ever taken the oath of office legally.

McKie, Holmes and the District don't think that's a big deal. Here's what the law says: 

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.

Every word in a law is important. The order of the words is important. No one can just willy-nilly decide that a change in order is okay. It's not okay. First you file your SEI. Then you take the oath of office. Then you commence your duties. 

The Office of the S.C. Attorney General is wrong to overlook this. McKie and Holmes are usurping public office. That's a violation of another section of the law. 

The remedy is simple. All they have to do is take the oath of office, now that they are eligible to do so. (They became eligible to take the oath of office on December 4, 2018, after they filed their SEIs.)

After Holmes reported to the Richland County Sheriff's Department that I had been harassing her, a sergeant said to me in a rather harsh, accusatory tone, "You just want those women kicked off the board."

I responded, calmly, "No. I just want them to take the oath of office and become legal members of the board." That was on March 21, 2019. They still haven't done so.

The Criminal Investigations Division of RCSD concluded that no crime had been committed. Perhaps all the false statements attributed to Holmes in the deputy's report had everything to do with that conclusion.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Free COVID-19 Testing

 If you stuck around until almost the end of the November 10 Board meeting or tuned into the video-recording on YouTube, you could hear the superintendent announce free COVID-19 testing.

DHEC has set up a testing site at R2i2 and will take samples from 10:00AM until 4:00PM, Mondays-through-Saturdays, until December 31 (if I heard him correctly). Results can be expected in 24-48 hours.

For information, call 864-445-2141.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Speakers harshly cut off

At last night's school board meeting five members of the public addressed the board in the first segment of Public Participation.

(18:05 on the video timer) The first speaker was a female student from Spring Valley High School. She spoke in a confident, well-organized presentation. 

(21:45) The next speaker was a male student, also (I think) from Spring Valley. He tore into the board about use of low-skilled substitutes in his AP class. I'll have to listen to both comments again, as soon as the video is published.

The third (25:22) and fourth (28:59) speakers also ripped the Administration over lack of accommodations for at-risk teachers. 

They were cut off abruptly by Acting Chair Holmes, who was keeping a sharp eye on the timer. Her abrupt, loudly-spoken interruption of "THANK YOU" must have been shocking to the parent speaker and also was to me in the audience.

If only the moderators in the Presidential debates had had Holmes for a tutor!

Trustee Elkins asked Holmes, very politely and professionally, to allow speakers to at least finish their sentences. Holmes acted like she'd be committing a Federal felony if she let a speaker go one second past the allotted three minutes.

Holmes threw on her superiority tone at Elkins and shut down further discussion.

The problem was that the timer was behind the speakers. The board and the audience could see the timer winding down, but the speaker was facing away from the timer. Unless he had eyes in the back of his head, he would not realize he was running out of time.

BE SURE TO VIEW ALL FIVE SPEAKERS, when the video is published on YouTube. Each of the five speakers did a great job.

(33:07) The sixth speaker spoke with a heavy accent. It was difficult to understand everything he said. At one point, Holmes leaned toward the superintendent to comment, diverting her attention away from the speaker. 

Her doing so was disrespectful to the speaker and also against meeting procedures for members of public bodies. Everything said by a board member should be audible to every other board member and to the public. Side-conversations are not to be conducted.

(Edited after watching the video on Nov. 12, 2020)

No Quorum last night

Last night, November 10, 2020, the Richland 2 School Board conducted a Regular Meeting, including an Executive Session, without having a quorum present.

The full body consists of seven members. There were four legal members present last night.

James Shadd was absent.

Trustee-elect Lashonda McFadden was sworn in, but her term-of-office does not begin until November 16.

Trustee-elect McKie was present and seated at the board, but she is not a legitimate member of the board because she has never taken the oath-of-office legally.

Trustee-elect Holmes was present and seated at the board, but she also is not a legitimate member of the board because she has never taken the oath-of-office legally. She conducted the meeting. Because an officer of the board must be a board member, she should not be Vice Chair and should not have conducted the meeting.

Trustees Agostini, Elkins, Manning and Caution-Parker were present. They were the only legitimate board members present last night. That's four. A quorum is five. The meeting should not have been held last night.

School District Resumes Following State Law

At last night's School Board meeting, the board was set to cause a newly-elected trustee to join the board before the legal beginning date of her term-of-office.

On Monday I wrote an email to all trustees, trustees-elect, the District's attorney, the District's Robert's Rules of Order consultant, the sheriff, the attorney general, and others, asking the District to follow S.C. Code of Laws 59-19-315.

S.C. CODE OF LAWS 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.

Supt. Davis explained to the public that the District had misinterpreted the law since 2010. After a "concerned citizen" raised the issue, the District got legal advice and will follow the law.

Mrs. McFadden was sworn in last night by Columbia Mayor Benjamin, and her term-of-office begins on Friday, November 16, 2020.

This is what the conference room on the second level of R2i2 looked like. The board was waaaayyyyy down at one end of the room, and visitors were seated at the other, socially-distanced.

Friday, November 6, 2020

New Procedure is Faulty

The District has announced a new procedure for public participation at board meetings.

It was published with the announcement for the Tuesday, November 10, 2020 board meeting. It reads:

"As the meeting is being held in person, the Board will return to the standard process for Public Participation. The Board sets aside a maximum of 30 minutes (15 minutes at the beginning and 15 minutes prior to the end of the public portion of the meeting). As each speaker is allotted three minutes, Public Participation will be limited to the first 10 people who sign up to speak (five during the first Public Participation and five during the second Public Participation). The sign-up to speak will open at 5 p.m. and close at 6 p.m. on Nov. 10 in the lobby of R2i2."

Why is it faulty?

1. If someone wishes to attend the meeting in person, he must arrive early and well before the 5:00PM starting time of the Installation Ceremony. Seating will be limited and on a first-come, first-seated basis. This person will be IN the room, in his seat, and unable to sign up, because the sign-up sheet will be outside the room in its usual place.

If the early bird leaves the room to sign up, will he be locked out when someone takes his seat?

2. Fifteen glorious meetings are set aside out of what is often a 2-3 hour meeting for the first Public Participation session, and fifteen minutes are allocated in the second half.

Time could be saved by calling out the names of the first three speakers, such as "The first speaker will be (Name), followed by (Name) and (Name). Be ready to step to the podium when the speaker ahead of you finishes." Then, "The next speaker is (Name), followed by (Name) and (Name).

Now the District is going to "let" five (only) people speak in the first segment and five in the second.

What is 15 people wanted to speak and each took only one minute? If a speaker talked as quickly as Mrs. Roof reads, he could say a lot in one minute and step aside for the next speaker. Then the board would get a big earful.

Why does the board make the second five speakers sit there and twiddle their thumbs while they plod through the meeting? Why not make the 30-minute Public Participation segment in one continuous block?

Perhaps future meetings won't be 2-3 hour marathons. November 10 will be James Shadd's last meeting as a trustee and as Board Chair. If the Board is wise enough (assuming it actually follows state law), will it elect a new Board Chair who is organized and methodical and who will keep the board on-task?


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Will Richland 2 Follow the Law?

Will the three successful candidates in the school board election insist that state law be followed? 

The Board is planning an installation ceremony for Tuesday, November 10, at 5:00PM. This is three days before the official term-of-office begins because, if the election is certified on November 6, state law mandates the beginning of the term-of-office as one week later (this year, November 13, 2020.

In 2018 the Board and the District committed an as-yet-uncorrected error, when it swore in McKie and Holmes on November 13, 2018, before they were eligible to take the oath. Then Holmes was allowed to be seated on the board. McKie legally sat on the board on November 13, because it was her last official meeting in her 2014-2018 term-of-office.

But McKie has sat at the board illegally ever since, as has Holmes.

Elkins, Agostini and McFadden must file Statements of Economic Interests (SEI) with the South Carolina Ethics Commission before they can take the oath of office for the 2020-2024 term. There is probably no reason they cannot take the oath on November 10, if they have filed their SEIs.

But McFadden cannot commence her official responsibilities until her term-of-office begins on November 13, which is after the November 10 board meeting.

Elkins and Agostini will attend the November 10th board meeting as their final meeting of their 2016-2020 terms-of-office.

State law requires an election of Chairman and Clerk (Secretary) at the first meeting after a new trustee joins the board. That will be in December. Will the District observe this law?

Holmes should be replaced as Vice Chair. She is not a legal board member (has never taken the oath of office legally) and, thus, is not eligible to serve as a board officer. 

Caution-Parker should be replaced as Secretary. 

Election Results - Congratulations

Unofficial, pre-certification results of the Richland 2 School Board election are

Monica Elkins 32,401 votes

Lindsay Agostini 26,790 votes

Lashonda McFadden 21,664 votes

Elkins and Agostini have been re-elected. McFadden joins the board as a new member; her term-of-office offically begins on November 13, 2020. Shadd departs after the November 10th board meeting. 

(NOTE: The totals keep changing...)

(NOTE: 11/6/20 Final votes. Election certified by the Richland County Elections Commission)

Monday, November 2, 2020

Is this Grading-System Change happening in Richland 2?

"Equality is out and 'equity' is in.

That is the first sentence in an article about the San Diego (Calif.) Unified School District, titled "Discipline Suffers as San Diego Schools Adopt ‘Anti-Racism’ Grading System". This article was publish by The Daily Signal from the Heritage Foundation.

The article, by Jarrett Stepman, author of "The War on History: The Conspiracy to Rewrite America's Past, examines "a change to their grading system that coincides with broader ideas of restorative justice and 'anti-racism'”.

These same buzzwords are popular with the majority of the Richland 2 School Board and the superintendent. Restorative justice. Anti-racism. Systematic racism. Equality. Equity. Diversity. Critical race theory. Cultural Awareness. Let's throw in police brutality, too. And school-to-prison pipeline.

I remember one particular school board meeting when cultural awareness was being discussed. James Shadd said it was important to remember that young, black men just sometimes express themselves with loud voices. I immediately thought to the black kid disrespectfully mouthing off to a white teacher "in a loud voice". Finally, Trustee James Manning stuck up for white teachers. That defense came very late in the discussion and was close to not being said at all.

One candidate for school board this year said that black students are now 70% of the Richland 2 population. Yes, and they are part of the 13% of black population nationally. When they leave the sheltered island of Richland 2, how will they fare in the "real" world?

When those young, black men speak to an employer's supervisor or manager "in a loud voice", they are likely to hear "You're Fired!", instead of, "You know? We understand and sympathize with your ancestry." Should James Shadd's "young, black men" learn what they are doing to their own chances for success in the business world?