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.