Thursday, September 16, 2021

Question of the Day: widow or widower

How is a woman whose husband died referred to?

A. Widow

B. Widower

(There is a reason for asking.) Watch for a follow-up article. Put your answer in a Comment below or, for privacy, email it to gusphilpott@gmail.com  Your name or email address will never be made public.

How can you be sure of confidentiality?

I wrote a blog in Illinois, frequently sinking my teeth into the county sheriff's department. The sheriff had his attorney subpoena 27 months' worth of records for my blog, trying to find out where the leaks were. I filed a Motion to Quash the subpoena pro se in Federal Court, and the Magistrate granted my motion, telling the sheriff's attorney she was just on a "fishing expedition" (his words) to uncover the names of deputies who were leaking the dirt to me.

The subpoena was part of a former deputy's wrongful termination lawsuit. I knew I would not reveal my sources, even at the risk of jail time for contempt of court. Fortunately, it never got to that. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

False Statements in The State article

Read carefully today's article in The State about last night's board meeting. Can you spot the lies and other false statements?

The first thing I noticed was the use of an old board photo. It includes former board member James Shadd, who was not re-elected in November 2020. Lashonda McFadden was not pictured or mentioned in the photo caption.

Monica Scott commented on the power claimed by the board chair (trustee-elect) Teresa Holmes. I remember last year when Holmes filled in as board chair and the night she slammed the gavel down like she was in charge of the U.S. Supreme Court. Actually, the board has not "given" more power to the chair. The board has allowed the chair to grab it without a challenge. Maybe that's stopping now.

The article states "Holmes said board members were kept in the loop every step of the way and had weeks to get details on Davis’ proposed contract." If you watched or listened to last night's meeting, you know that Holmes lied when she told the reporter that.

The article continues - “How could they have been cut out of the decision making process when we’re all given the same information at the same time?” The Trustees did NOT get "the same informatino at the same time." Another lie.

When Trustees Agostini, Scott and McFadden walked out, leaving the board with less than a quorum, the ONLY action the chair (Holmes) should have taken was to adjourn the meeting immediately. Holmes was wrong to carry on until the superintendent finally spoke up - twice. First to tell her they had to adjourn, and secondly to remind her that the board had never approved the agenda for the meeting and so could not continue.

Manning then is quoted in the article with an opinion but otherwise false statement - “I think what happened last night was a dereliction of duty and an irresponsible way to govern.” 

The article correctly states "In August, Richland 2’s board voted to request legal advice..." That's exactly what Manning's Motion was. His Motion was NOT to commence legal action. The superintendent did that without the advice and consent of the board.

For that reason alone, he should not be considered for a raise. As a matter of fact, he exceeded his authority and should be terminated for doing so.

The article continues. "Holmes said it was clear the board was voting for legal action ..." and 
“Every board member agreed to do the lawsuit,” Holmes lies again.

There was no vote to begin legal action. Any "vote" in Executive Session, if there was one, is invalid. Is that where Holmes thinks the board voted? They certainly did not so vote for legal action in public session.

The article states that Holmes is "an assistant administrator in Fairfield County Schools" and provides a link to Richland Two's Board Member page. Holmes is no longer employed in Fairfield County Schools. The Board Member page continues obsolete information.

The article continues. "Manning implied other districts have noticed Davis and would be happy to have him." Good. Let them have him.

Read this idiotic statement by Holmes. “In my opinion this should never be able to happen again where three people, who are not a majority of the board, can shut down the business of the district.”

What she fails to say is that "the Squad" (Holmes, McKie, Caution-Parker, Manning) can do whatever they want and completely disregard Agostini, Scott and McFadden, because they, the four, are the majority.

Gall of R2 Superintendent

When last night's Richland 2 school board meeting blew up over the agenda item to give the superintendent a raise, Baron Davis had the gall to suggest that the board ought to meet in a Special-Called Board Meeting to discuss and approve his revised contract.

I hope that legal Trustees Agostini, Scott and McFadden will decline to attend any Special-Called Meeting that includes that agenda item. If they don't attend, the board cannot meet because it won't have a quorum (of five).

Why is the superintendent's contract even open for discussion at this time? Is this a normal review time for his contract? 

Why didn't the board consider the issue of compensation when it lavished praise on him for just doing his job for the past year? On August 13, 2019 the board gave Davis a whopping 12.3% raise of an estimated $23,000. Did he get a pay bump in 2020?

When Davis filed his 2021 Statement of Economic Interests with the South Carolina Ethics Commission on March 17, 2021, he reported $223,882.97 as salary from Richland 2, plus an $18,000 car allowance. He also reported a taxable economic benefit of $760 on insurance provided by the District and $14,000 from the University of South Carolina.

Why does Richland 2 allow him to moonlight for an extra $14,000/year? For $237,000/year Richland 2 ought to get 100% of his time.

Davis also reports a "Family Income" of $78,113 from Richland 2. Does he have a wife working in the District? I thought there were nepotism rules in the District. Maybe not. She might not report directly to him, but indirectly she sure does because he is at the top of the District employee food chain.

Why are the Trustees even allowing any discussion of a compensation increase at this time? Sure, he'll always hold his hand out for more. Gimme, gimme, gimme. So, let him hold his hand out. Just don't put anything in it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

What will Holmes learn?

The lesson for Teresa Holmes from tonight's board meeting is that she is not the Queen of the board. She doesn't get to rule by fiat. She is only one vote when it comes time to vote. 

And vote the board must. She mis-used her authority tonight to shut off other board members who wanted to speak. She didn't listen to the other board members, because she was thinking about how she was going to get her own way.

Watch the replay of the meeting and you see where she gets lost and doesn't know what to do next.

She was elected as board chair at the end of June, and the board could hold another election at any time and elect someone else to be chair. There are really only two good choices: Lindsay Agostini and Monica Scott. 

As a matter of fact, they should hold another election, since Holmes isn't even a legitimate board member.

I wonder what the new Legal Counsel for the District would say, if asked to state the legality of Holmes and McKie being on the board.

Would she make a decision based on the law, or would she make a decision that will preserve her job? And right there is the reason for the school district NOT to have its own, in-house, legal counsel. 

But that's a topic for another article.

Does Holmes have the integrity and the humility to learn from tonight's mistakes?

The ONLY Apology Needed....

The ONLY apology needed at tonight's school board meeting was for Teresa Holmes to admit that she doesn't have a clue how to run a board meeting. SHE is the one whose apology was needed.

Caution-Parker should apologize for referring to the walk-out by Trustees Agostini, Scott and McFadden as "stupid and ignorant".

There was an attempt to ram through an amendment to the superintendent's contract. One trustee mentioned a "raise", so apparently the superintendent was seeking more money on top of the huge raise he got last year.

The fiasco began when the board needed to approve tonight's agenda. There was a motion and second. During discussion Mrs. Agostini wanted to put the vote on the superintendent's contract off to the next meeting.

This is where Teresa Holmes clearly demonstrated her lack of leadership and organizational skills. She tried to dismiss it. She refused to understand that, when Mrs. Agostini made her motion to amend the primary motion to approve the agenda, there should have been a second, then discussion, then a vote.

Monica Scott got up and left the meeting, leaving six in attendance.

Then Lindsay Agostini got up and left, leaving five.

Lashonda McFadden attempted to speak, and Holmes would not recognize her. When Holmes finally recognized her, Mrs. McFadden gave a very clear statement, and then she left. When she left, that meant a quorum no longer existed and business had to stop.

You MUST watch this meeting, which is only 35 minutes long. Go to www.livestream.com/Richland2 and select the video for today's date, September 14, 2021.

Even then Holmes tried to continue. Finally the superintendent explained all they could do was adjourn.

And even then Holmes continued.

Manning tried to shore things up, but Holmes was WRONG. The worst part is that she didn't even know she was wrong. 

The only apology needed tonight was for Holmes to state that her inexperience and lack of leadership skills were the direct cause of what happened. She should have allowed Agostini's secondary motion to continue. The Squad probably would have voted it down, but the meeting would have continued.

The only way to stop a vote on the superintendent's raise was for three board members to walk out. And walk out they did. 

Bravo and kudos to Mrs. Agostini, Ms. Scott and Mrs. McFadden!!! They are the only three worthy of being on the board!

WHO Has Ultimate Responsbility???

 Well, lookee what has shown up in the Agenda for the September 14, 2021 school board meeting. 

When I first looked at the agenda last week, I didn't spot this Resolution. So today, Tuesday, I wonder when it was added. It's possible I just didn't see it. Richland 2 School District never identifies an amended agenda. If the District published this agenda with the Resolution after 5:30PM yesterday, then they violated the S.C. Freedom of Information Act, which requires at least 24 hours' notice.

If you want your blood to boil, read carefully the sixth Whereas: "WHEREAS, local school boards and superintendents, who ultimately bear the responsibility for the well-being of students ..."

Seriously? Who do these people think they are? This is Socialism at its best (worst). NO, IT IS THE PARENTS WHO BEAR THE ULTIMATE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE WELL-BEING OF STUDENTS (THEIR CHILDREN).

Parents must push back on the woke members of the school board and the superintendent!!!

Here's the Resolution, as it appears in the Agenda for tonight's board meeting. Who authorized the legal cost of developing that Resolution? How much did it cost? $1,000? $2,500? The school board should have discussed that first, decided on it, and then authorized the superintendent to get it prepared? Did the superintendent do it on his own? Did the board chair, who is not even legally the board chair, okay it?

Also, notice the absence of an Attestation clause, in which the Secretary attests to the signatures. McKie can't legally do that, because she too is not a legal member of the board and not the legitimate Secretary of the Board.  McKie, of course, won't have the same ethical problem that a previous Secretary had, when that Secretary refused to attest to the legitimacy of the then-board chair (who happened to be McKie).


A RESOLUTION OF THE RICHLAND SCHOOL DISTRICT TWO BOARD OF TRUSTEES URGING THE SOUTH CAROLINA GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO REPEAL 2021-2022 BUDGET PROVISO 1.108 

WHEREAS, South Carolina is among the top 10 states in the nation having the highest number of COVID-19 cases per capita, averaging 5,500 cases a day; and 

WHEREAS, the South Carolina Children’s Hospitals Collaborative recently stated that the number of children ages 0 - 17 in the state requiring hospitalization, including critical, for COVID-19 is rising at an alarming rate; and 

WHEREAS, in Richland School District Two the number of students and staff who have tested positive so far this school year is more than 650, which has resulted in the quarantine of more than 1,860 students and staff; and, 

WHEREAS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status; and, 

WHEREAS, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) strongly recommends universal mask wearing for teachers, staff, and parents in schools; and, 

WHEREAS, local school boards and superintendents, who ultimately bear the responsibility for the well-being of students and staff need flexibility – not limitations – when carefully weighing health and safety guidance at the local, state and federal levels to make decisions for the students and staff in their communities; and, 

WHEREAS, local school district leaders are best positioned to monitor and modify safety protocols and make the best decisions to keep students and employees safe; and, 

WHEREAS, mitigation measures are vitally important to maintain in-person, full time education to ensure students do not fall behind scholastically or socially; and, 

WHEREAS, Proviso 1.108 serves as a barrier for school district leaders to consider every recommended mitigation measure available for the protection of the health and safety of students and staff. 

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Richland School District Two Board of Trustees, by this resolution, strongly urges members of the South Carolina General Assembly to reconvene immediately and repeal Proviso 1.108. 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that copies of this resolution are being furnished to members of the Richland County Legislative Delegation and communicated to our parents, businesses and school supporters. Adopted this 14th day of September, 2021 

________________________ Board Member ________________________ Board Member ________________________ Board Member ________________________ Board Member ________________________ Board Member ________________________ Board Member ________________________ Chairman


Monday, September 13, 2021

Woke Reaction in Washington High School

This FoxNews story must belong on The Onion, but it could be real.

Can you imagine a high school in the U.S.A. prohibiting its students from a Patriot's Day dress theme at a football game of red, white and blue?

Could this possibly be true?

FoxNews reports that Eastlake High School in Sammamish, Washington nixed the planned display. From the article, "A student told the (radio) show that he was informed that the 'red, white and blue was going to be seen as racially insensitive and may affect people in a way that we will not understand and for that reason that we were to change our theme.'"

I've heard of dumb things coming out of the State of Washington, but this takes the cake. So, some people (students, "babies" as a Richland 2 trustee-elect calls them here) might be offended. Well, too bad!!!

Care to express your opinion to Eastlake High School? Contact information:
400 228th Ave. NE
Sammamish, WA 98074
Phone: 425/936-1500
https://ehs.lwsd.org/
Principal: (Mr.) Chris Bede, cbede@lwsd.org

FoxNews had the name of the associate principal who called off the display in the name of the school and who apparently blindsided the Principal. How kind of FoxNews not to name that staffer.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Loudoun County Parents are SERIOUS

Have you been following the efforts of Loudoun County, Va. parents to stop Critical Race Theory in their schools? Their efforts include attention to recalling several school board members.

Could this happen here?

Read today's FoxNews article about a $500,000 ad campaign to expose the school board.

There is a Richland 2 school board meeting on Tuesday, September 14. Is the board doing what it can to reduce public presence by requiring masks, social distancing, and holding meetings in a small room? Does it welcome public attendance and attention? Or not?

Do parents stay home because of the small meeting room and the very short time the board is willing to listen to them? 

How can parents and community members know how much contact is aimed at the school board members? They never mention how many phone calls or emails they receive. One might think that the only members of the public who contact the board are the 4-5-6 brave people who show up at board meetings. 

The board room should be packed and SRO (and I don't mean School Resource Officers).

Which reminds me ... why is the District hiring THREE (3) RCSD deputies to attend board meetings? That started after three members of the public (and you know who they were) confronted Trustee Scott (Elkins) and provoked a reaction when the man shoved his cell phone in her face. You did watch the lobby video about that; right? She should have had him charged with Assault, but she took the high road.

Those three? Friends of which board members? That's clear, too.

So, Parents, it's YOUR school district. Start showing up and put a stop to the encroachment of Critical Race Theory in Richland 2. They won't call it that - by that name. That way, they can deny it when a Freedom of Information Act Request seeks information. But the elements of CRT are present. 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Intimidation? Indoctrination?

Read this article from the Heritage Foundation titled "North Carolina Report Highlights Indoctrination in Classrooms. Here Are 6 Stories From Parents and Faculty".

Is this occurring in Richland 2 schools?

Are students learning that they'd better come up with an answer the teacher likes or they'll be graded down? If they disagree with a teacher's political views expressed in the classroom, will they suffer grade-wise? Or do all teachers encourage open discussion and encourage thoughtful expression on topics that are popular today?

Richland 2 has invested in USC Prof. Gloria Boutte's "Culturally Relevant Pedagogy". Do you even know what that is? Look back at the video of a brief presentation about that CRT on the District's website during the March 26, 2019 board meeting. For my blogpost about that, click here.

And what about the superintendent's "100 Premier Men of Color" program. He told the board a while back that he is not evaluated on that program, at least part of which is designed to put "more faces" in front of students like those in the classroom seats. Meaning, more black teachers. If he is not evaluated on it, why is the District allowed time and money to be spent on it?

The last time I was able to find teacher demographics on the District's website, white and black teachers comprised almost the same 38% make-up of teachers. Why is it important to have a black teacher in front of a classroom of mostly black students? Is that preparing those students for the "real" world, where they will comprise 14% of the U.S. population?

Do your ears perk up when you hear (or read) these words and ideas? - Critical Race Theory, white privilege, white supremacy, gender identity, woke, equality, equity, gender transition, bias, discrimination, racist, the privilege game, display of racial or political preferences in schools.

When you show up at school board meetings and speak out, demand answers. The Board chair will say, "We don't respond at meetings." You can read that as "We saw your lips move for three minutes. Now sit down!" Did they listen? Ask when they will respond. Ask them to  respond in public at the next meeting.

Friday, September 10, 2021

R2 Changes Sign-up Times

Reason has suddenly struck the Richland 2 school district. Imagine that.

After last meeting's fiasco of requiring those wishing to speak during Public Participation to sign in at least 45 minues before the start of the 6:30PM public session (after the executive session), the district is announcing a new sign-up time for those wishing to speak at the September 14th meeting.

Now you just have to arrive more than 15 minutes ahead of time. In other words, if you wish to speak, arrive and sign up between 5:30PM-6:15PM. 

The first ten people to sign up will get their chances to tell the board just how they feel about issues and problems in Richland 2. Five are allowed to speak (for up to 3 minutes each) during the first segment, and the second five during the second segment. In practice, I've been told that all the speakers might be allowed to speak during the first segment, eliminating the need by the second five to twiddle their thumbs and bide their time through the entire meeting.

The board could use some serious coaching on how to run an effective board meeting. The dog-and-pony shows organized by the superintendent are far too long. The board should receive all the necessary information in advance of meetings. Then staff should summarize their reports and answer questions from board members.

It's unknown how many board members actually read the board packets. From some of the questions being asked, it's clear that some of the board members do not read their packets. And from the complete absence of correction or additions to Minutes, I wonder whether any board members read the Minutes of the previous meeting.

The board members are decision-makers and more of them should act like it. That means, read and understand what's in the meeting packet. Ask intelligent questions. Don't just sit there like bumps on a log. Board business could be conducted in 90 minutes tops.

Start with cutting back the Inspirational Moment. The introduction should not exceed 30 seconds, and the "Moment" should be limited to 2-3 minutes. The board chair can the person giving the Moment and move right on.

Public Participation can move more quickly by announcing the name of the next speaker and "followed by (the names of the next two speakers)". They should line up, be ready to advance and make their remarks. As a speaker finishes, the board chair should say, "the next speaker is ____, followed by ___ and ___." The name of the speaker is important; the person speaking often does not identify himself.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Picking Attorneys and Filing Lawsuits

The following letter has been sent to the Richland 2 school board. Will the board address these questions at the September 14th board meeting?


Board Members and trustees-elect Holmes and McKie,


I encourage a close reading of this article in the Voice newspaper

As you read it, ask yourselves

1. Did you sign, or authorize the signing of, an engagement letter with 
a. Attorney Carl Solomon?
b. Attorney Skyler Hutto?
c. Attorney W. Allen Nickles III?

2. Did you actually authorize litigation in the Executive Session but fail to disclose it to the public when you voted?

3. Had the superintendent already laid the groundwork for a lawsuit before you approved Manning's Motion on August 16? 

4. Does it not seem unusual to you that the superintendent could thoroughly research the "best option and legal strategy" in only three days and that a court case could be properly researched and filed on the Friday after a Monday board meeting - without further board action and approval?

I presume you know what an engagement letter for legal services includes. Are the pro bono services totally free of any and all charges (ex., expenses, filing fees, etc.), or is there "fine print" in the letter that discloses expenses that will be charged? A standard Engagement Letter is often two pages in length.

Each of you should be demanding from Supt. Davis exactly what his contact was with Kathryn Mahoney, the attorney for the school district, and what her advice was about proceeding with litigation, and what he learned through any consult with the Richland County Council that you authorized.

Release to the public exactly how you authorized the superintendent to file a lawsuit in the S.C. Supreme Court without explicit approval by the school board.

Sincerely,

Gus Philpott

Supreme Court - MIA?

Is anyone else wondering what happened to the five justices of the South Carolina Supreme Court?

Where is the decision from the August 31st court session involving Richland 2? It didn't take them long to toss the City of Columbia action.

Isn't the issue about the same? About the use of state funds to announce and enforce a mask mandate?

I understand they will consider a case on its individual merits. The Chief Justice announced that the decision would be made on the law. The rise in COVID cases has nothing to do with it.

If Richland 2 wants a mask mandale, it can impose one. It can announce and enforce it. It just can't use State funds to do so.

Easy. Right?

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Board Policy BDG - Board Attorney/Legal Services

I suspect most parents don't spend much time reading Board Policies, but here's one to read and understand right now.

Where can you read it?

Go to www.Richland2.org
Click on EXPLORE (top right)
Click on School Board
Click on BOARD POLICIES
On the left side, click on B - SCHOOL BOARD GOVERNANCE AND OPERATIONS
Scroll down and click on Board Policy BDG

Note particularly "...the board, by majority vote, may designate an attorney or law firm..." It's right there in the first paragraph!

So, when the superintendent chose Carl Solomon, Skyler Hutto and Allen Nickles for the lawsuit filed in the S.C. Supreme Court, did he exceed his authority?

And what about proceeding with the filing of a lawsuit in the District's name only three days after the board approved a motion to gather information? Shouldn't the superintendent have returned to the board with that information? How did the superintendent get the okay to proceed?

Did the board give him a wink and a nod in Executive Session and then "conveniently" forget to approve that in public session? That's clearly an "action" that requires approval in public. The board cannot hide in Executive Session and approve something like a lawsuit out of public view.

If Teresa Holmes hadn't smacked down Lindsay Agostini when it was time to vote on Manning's Motion, that information might have come out. 

Should concerned parents obtain the services of the same attorney who is sinking his teeth into Richland One over an Executive Session issue and go after Richland Two about its Executive Session on August 16, 2021?

Using Nurses for Clerks?

WIS-TV is running an article about how over-worked Richland 2 nurses are. Gee, they are having to work for their pay? Must be torture.

Here's the article. Just click to read, or go to the WIS-TV website. 

When I first read about Contact Tracers a few months ago, I wondered why nurses were being used for those calls. Why not hire and train people for $10.00/hour to make telephone calls and record information on sheets or in computer files, to be later analyzed (hopefully, by computer) for any useful information? 

What kind of management expertise does it take to choose between highly-paid nurses and lower-paid clerical employees? That's merely wise utilization of resources and money. 

But why do that when you have lots of money and don't need to conserve it?

Another obvious benefit is avoiding burn-out. Well, too late for that one; right?

It's never too late.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Who is W. Allen Nickles III ???

The petition filed by Richland 2 in the S.C. Court lists three (3) attorneys. Prior to seeing a copy of the actual petition, there was talk of only two - Carl Solomon and Skyler Hutto. 

Where did W. Allen Nickles III come from? A quick search of the internet reveals only general information from sources such as legaldirectories.com, martindale.com, lawyers.com, etc., and some court cases associating his name, in one case (2000), with Gergel, Nickles & Solomon, P.A. Is he with a Columbia law firm today?

The South Carolina Judicial Branch attorney registration lists him with an address of 17 Creek Manor Lane (29206), which appears to be a residence. Perhaps he has a home-based office.

Did the Richland 2 school board approve giving him legal business?

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Watch this mom in action

Check out this mom in Birmingham, when she goes after the school board over its mask mandate.

She has done her homework, and she is well-prepared and well-spoken. 

www.tiktok.com/@life_with_peanurt3/video/6999716340726566149

She asserts that a mask is a medical device and quotes law in her state. She is obviously aware of the time-limit for her remarks, and she keeps going as she disregards applause from the audience. 

Listen to her remarks.

Agree? Disagree? Please comment below.

Director of First Impressions


 Imagine my surprise last week when I approached the visitor desk at R2i2 and spotted this name-plate.

What was my first impression? "What the heck is that?" My tax dollars at work, eh?

When did the school board approve a "Director" employment slot at R2i2? Where does a Director fit in the hierarchy of administrators? Above greeter? Above department head? Above manager? Above assistant principal and principal? 

Above Superintendent?

Is Director even above Commissioner?

If I were to stroll up to the visitor desk, struggle to understand and be understood through the plexiglass windscreen protecting me from the employee seated behind it, and maybe not be greeted with a super-friendly and welcoming smile and words, what kind of "first impression" would the District be making on me?

Whose brainchild was that nameplate?

And the S.C. Supreme Court says ....

... you have to wait until at least Tuesday to learn its ruling on the Richland 2 lawsuit. Actually, the Supreme Court didn't "say" anything. It just did not announce a ruling yet. When it does, it'll be all over Columbia news.

Do you have a viewpoint? Do you have a guess about the ruling?

Do you have an opinion about the performance of the lawyers?

Did you watch the Supreme Court hearing on August 31? If you didn't and want to, click here.

Do you understand Proviso 1.108? Here it is:

"1.108. (SDE: Mask Mandate Prohibition): No school district, or any of its schools, may use any funds appropriated or authorized pursuant to this act to require that its students and/or employees wear a facemask at any of its education facilities. This prohibition extends to the announcement or enforcement of any such policy." 

Do you understand it? Are you misled by "SDE: Mask Mandate Prohibition"?

Do you realize that the Proviso does not tell a school district that it cannot mandate masks?

Please comment below. 

R2 redrawing school boundaries

Parents, you'd better get on top of Richland 2's plans for re-drawing school attendance boundaries.

Read this article in today's Post and Courier.

Is it correct? Does it make sense? The article says that Richland 2 school board will vote on October 26 on changing attendance boundaries. Are you in touch with Administration? With school board trustees? Will the two trustees-elect, who aren't legitimate board members, be allowed to vote? (You can count on it.)

Here's what doesn't make sense to me in the article.

Bethel-Hanberry Elementary in Blythewood is 120 students over capacity. 
Langford Elementary is 250 students under capacity. The schools are two miles apart.

It looks like 270 students would be moved out of Bethel-Hanberry.

The article reports that over 3,000 students could be affected, including students of Round Top Elementary. That's more than 10% of the District's enrollment. 

Board meetings are scheduled for September 14, September 28, October 12, and October 26. No doubt there will be other meetings. The agenda for each meeting will be published and can be read on the District's website at least 24 hours before the start of the meeting and often 2-3 days before the meeting. 

Read carefully for the deadline to sign up to speak at meetings. For the August 24th meeting the deadline was an inconsiderate FORTY-FIVE (45) minutes before the start of the meeting. Hopefully, the Board and Administration will come to their senses before the September 14th meeting and change the sign-up deadline to 10-15 minutes before the meeting. 

It doesn't even have to be that short a deadline. There is no reason a parent or community member couldn't sign up even after the meeting starts and then be allowed to speak during the second Public Participation segment.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Come one, come all. Next board meeting - Sept. 14, 2021

Attention, All Parents, Community Members and other Stakeholders,

The next Regular Meeting of the Richland 2 school board will be on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.

NOW is the time to pay attention to the board. TELL them what you want in way of mask requirements.

Do you wnnt the choice as to whether your child wears a mask? Do you want your child forced to wear a mask? If your choice is that your child not wear a mask at school or on the bus, do you want your child bullied by other students, teachers or staff?

Do you understand the lawsuit that was filed by the District, apparently without Board approval? Do you wonder why the superintendent proceeded without a specific, public vote by the board? Do you wonder how Attorneys Solomon and Hutto ended up with the legal business, instead of the regular attorney for the District? Did the District's regular attorney advise the District was wasting its time and money (even for pro bono legal services) by suing the S.C. Attorney General)? Nothing is "free". The District paid for the superintendent to chase that rabbit.

Fill up the meeting room. Make it Standing Room Only. Loudoun County, Va. provides a great example for parents who advocate for their kids.

Arrive early enough to register to speak. Look at the District's website 2-3 days before the meeting and learn if it changed the idiotic rule that a person wanting to speak must arrive at least 45 minutes before the start of the meeting.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Here is the solution to the Proviso 1.108 problem

Soon the whining, blaming and gnashing of teeth over Proviso 1.108 will exceed the clamor over immigration, Afghanistan, Hurricane Ida, climate change, and all the other horrors of 2021.

So here's the solution. One of the lawyers mentioned it during the S.C. Supreme Court hearing.

The Supreme Court didn't tell the City of Columbia it can't mandate masks. It hit Columbia over the head and told it that State law is superior to Columbia (City) law.

If the Court rules the same way for Richland 2, a simple bookkeeping fix is all that is needed.

Decide that 1% of teachers' and administrators' time is used to announce and enforce masks. Then deal with the teachers' union (or collective bargaining or Red4Ed or whatever the group is) and tell them that their pay will be reduced 1% and then a separate check from a fund that does not contain State dollars this year will be issued for that 1%.

Re-program the computers and it's done.

Now fire the lawyers and get back to work.

S.C.S.C. shoots down City of Columbia

The South Carolina Supreme Court shot down the City of Columbia over Proviso 1.108. It made the right decision. At the beginning of the hearing, a justice said the case was not about masks, mandates or politics. It was about the Law.

Some reporters don't understand what the case was about.

The Court should announce its decision about Richland 2.

Richland 1 in court over Executive Session

FitsNews.com reported on September 1, 2021 that a Richland One parent is suing Richland School District One for, among other things, conducting a discussion in a closed meeting that should have been held in the open.

Richland One parent Flynn Bowie, Jr. has filed the suit. As of this morning, the case is not yet listed on the courts' Public Index. When it is, I'll report which court it is in.

Public bodies, such as school boards, can conduct certain discussions in private, secret Executive Sessions. Richland Two does this at almost every school board meeting. However, it is legal to discuss only certain topics as listed among Exclusions in the FOI Act of the State.

The only recourse a citizen has in South Carolina is to file a lawsuit, as Mr. Bowie has done.

In Illinois the Office of the Attorney General includes the Public Access Counselor (PAC). The PAC acts as a buffer zone between the public and a public body. I appealed often to the PAC, as did others. When a public body denied a FOIA request, it could be appealed to the PAC. The PAC would investigate. Often it sided with the citizen and directed the public body to reply more fully, or in full, to a FOIA request.

But if the public body still refusesd the PAC in Illinois had no teeth to sink into the public body. The further recourse of the person whose FOIA request was denied was to go to court. I knew a reporter who did just that. His attorney took the case pro bono, but with the condition she'd get paid if the lawsuit was successful. It was, and it cost the sheriff's department there $80,000 for being so bull-headed. 

South Carolina gives a citizen no such help from the Attorney General. If a parent or citizen is stiff-armed by a public body, the only recourse is court.

Which brings to me ... Richland 2.

Should Richland 2 be forced to reveal any decisions made on August 16, 2021 Executive Session about authorizing the superintendent to go ahead with a lawsuit without further discussion or authorization by the full school board?

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Board Should Demand Answers

I believe that Mr. Manning's Motion on August 16 did not allow the superintendent to start a lawsuit. The board authorized seeking the "best option and legal strategy to address Appropriations Budget Proviso 1.108, including consulting with Richland County Council with regards [sic] to protecting the health, safety and well-being of our students and employees".

That was on a Monday. On the following Friday a lawsuit was filed on behalf of Richland 2 in the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Questions that should be addressed to Supt. Davis in public on September 14, 2021:

Did you confer with the attorney for the school district, Kathryn Mahoney?
What was her advice re "best option and legal strategy"?
How did you select Carl Solomon?
How did you select Skyler Hutto?
How did you decide to include an Orangeburg parent in the lawsuit? 
How did you "vet" that parent?
How did you get the board's approval to start a lawsuit?
How did you decide on the parameters for the lawsuit without board input?
Do you understand that it is the board's prerogative, not yours, to initiate a lawsuit in the name of the District?

S.C.S.C. to decide

Did you watch the S.C. Supreme Court hearing that was held yesterday (August 31)?

If you missed it, watch it here. (If you don't like clicking on links, copy and paste this: https://media.sccourts.org/videos/2021-000892.mp4)

Richland 2 is trying to figure out how to dance around a mask mandate and not have it cost them State funds.

See this article in The State newspaper by reporter Lucas Daprile.

This is a case that never should have wasted the time of the five Justices of the State Supreme Court.

1. The Richland 2 school board never authorized the lawsuit.
2. The board told the superintendent to gather information. Manning's motion, approved 6-0, did not authorize him to start legal action.
3. Where did they get that Orangeburg mother to be part of the Richland 2 lawsuit?
4. Why did the superintendent get to pick Carl Solomon and Skyler Hutto to carry the flag for Richland 2?
5. Why wasn't the attorney for the school district, Kathryn Mahoney, involved?
6. Did the school board approve the choice of lawyers? (Hint: the answer is No.)
7. Why did Teresa Holmes issue a public statement to the media last Friday? 
8. Isn't the board supposed to authorize any statements before they are made to the public?

If the State Supreme Court rules against Richland 2, what's the next step? Or will there be a next step?

It is the school board that is supposed to be directing this District. It is the school board that authorizes legal action. The school board abdicates its fiduciary responsibility when it allows the superintendent to make decisions that it ought to be making.

The public should fill the meeting room at future board meetings. And don't just sit there? Stand up and speak out. Where are the parents of 28,000 students? When only four-to-six parents show up at a board meeting, isn't this an embarrassing failure of the parents who don't show up?

Remember how Teresa Holmes stiff-armed Lindsay Agostini on August 16, when she tried to find out more about Manning's Motion. Holmes was untruthful with Agostini and with the public when she said "they" (the board) could not discuss what was said in executive session. 

There is a parliamentary procedure (found in Robert's Rules of Order) that allows certain discussion. The board absolutely should have revealed any decision that would have allowed the superintendent to proceed with legal action, not just gather information for the board's later consideration. The decision to sue was absolutely a motion that should have been voted on in public session!

Or did the superintendent knowingly proceed with legal action without authorization from the board?