Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Weapons at three Richland 2 schools on March 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did the Board know about it last night?

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

Bulletproof glass?

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

Bulletproof glass?

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

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

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

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

So, where is the bulletproof glass to be installed?

Public cautioned not to name board members

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two trustees missing on 2/25/2020

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

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

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

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

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

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