Saturday, February 6, 2021

Two board members need official District email addresses

Richland 2 School District should create District-server email addresses for Trustee Monica Elkins and, if and when Teresa Holmes ever becomes a legal board member, for her.

The District did promptly establish an official email address for Mrs. McFadden, after she became a legal board member, by her being properly sworn in and taking office in accordance with State law.

The District has improperly allowed Ms. Elkins and Ms. Holmes to use personal email addresses for school board business.

Almost everyone is familiar with the Hillary Clinton email scandal that was created by her personal email server in her home.

Why is a District server-based email address important?

All official email is subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). 

There is no way to know if, from time to time, Elkins or Holmes deletes an official email. There are, or should be, procedures in District Policy for deleting official email. The rule is probably "Don't delete anything."

More importantly, official emails are subject to FOIA. If the District were to ask Holmes or Elkins to search for a certain email or group of emails, how would the District be certain that the search was thorough and that every pertinent email had been found?

One of these days Elkins will no longer be on the board. What happens then to all the emails in her account? Will she just delete them? And then, if asked to produce one or more, say, "Oops"?

And what about Holmes and her personal email address? She has been acting "as if" she is a board member since November 13, 2018. All of the emails to/from her personal email address that are about school board business are official emails and subject to FOIA.

If, one of these days, it is finally decided that she has not been a legal board member, will she have to turn over all those emails to the District? Or if, one of these days, she is not re-elected to the board, what happens to her emails then?

Richland 2 is one of the largest school districts in the state and has a massive email system. With a $300,000,000 budget and even more in assets, it is not one of the tiny, financially-strapped school districts unable to afford its own email system. 

It is time for the Board to "tell" the superintendent to set up official email addresses for Elkins (and they'll do it for Holmes, too) and tell the women to use only the official email address for school district business. The District can avoid huge problems in the future by having control over retention of all official emails to and from its board members.

Will Richland 2 Board Lack a Quorum today?

When the Richland 2 School Board convenes for a retreat today at 10:00AM, will it have a quorum?

And, if it doesn't, can it legally meet, even though no decisions are to be made?

Why would there even be a question about a quorum?

The reason is that there are two women on the board illegally.

According to Board Policy, a quorum is five of the seven members. Two women on the board (Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes) have never taken the oath of office legally; thus, they are not legal members of the school board.

They are usurping public office, which is a serious crime in South Carolina. But apparently not one quite serious enough for the Office of the Attorney General to haul them before the S.C. Supreme Court. If that office did so, they would have no defense, and the Supreme Court hearing would likely last about five minutes.

The Justices would need to ask only two questions:

1. On what date did you take the oath of office?

2. On what date did you file your Statement of Economic Interests?

State law (S.C. Code of Laws 8-13-1110(A) says, first you file your Statement; then you take the oath of office, then you begin your official duties.

McKie and Holmes took an oath on November 13, 2018, before they were eligible to do so. Neither had filed her Statement of Economic Interests with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. After The Independent Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County called them on their failure to file, both filed on December 4, 2018. On that date they first became eligible to take the oath of office legally and, after doing so, begin their official duties.

But they have never take the oath of office. Not on December 4, 2018. Not since December 4, 2018.

So, if McKie and Holmes are not legal members of the board, they cannot be counted toward the requirement of Five for a quorum.

The legal board members are Manning, Agostini, Elkins, McFadden and Caution-Parker.

Which one(s) will be absent today? Elkins has said she will not attend any in-person board meeting unless all board members are wearing facial masks. Holmes does not. She wears a face shield. (If she sneezes or coughs, well, we know that a face shield does not prevent her breath from escaping her immediate presence.)

So one non-member of the board keeps one board member away. Why doesn't the Chair order Holmes to wear a mask?

Speech Control?

Does the Richland 2 School District in any way attempt to control speech by teachers, staff, students, parents or community members?

Read this article about efforts in Loudoun County, Virginia by the public schools. They are trying to muzzle teachers who would speak out against the school board's racial-equity plan.

How many parents, staff or even teachers know what the racial-equity plan is for the Richland 2 schools?

The article says this about the Loudoun County Public Schools Board: "The speech code is hidden inside a "professional conduct" policy proposal, which prohibits behavior that undermines "the views, positions, goals, policies, or public statements of the Loudoun County School Board or its superintendent."

Is there anything similar buried in Board Policies for Richland 2?

And another sentence from the article reads "Loudoun County has come under fire for spending $422,500 on diversity training inspired by critical race theory, which claims racism is inherent in nearly every aspect of America. "

How much is Richland 2 spending on similar training? 

Do you even know what "critical race theory" is? Or The 1619 Project? Or whether Howard Zinn's "masterpiece" is being used as a text in Richland 2 schools?

Are Richland 2 students being taught to think for themselves? Or to think the way that they "ought" to think?

When Trustee Monica Elkins attempted to speak out at a recent board meeting about the lack of support from other board members, Chair James Manning shut her down.