Thursday, September 23, 2021

Open Letter to Richland 2 Board

The following has been emailed to the Richland 2 board.

Members of the board and trustees-elect Holmes and McKie,

The way to train the board chair not to waste your time with unnecessary special-called meetings is not to show up. SIX people should have told Teresa NO.

The 9/22/21 meeting was unnecessary, since the supt's raise was effective retroactive to 7/1/2021. It wouldn't have mattered if you had waited six months. I'm a little concerned about what "an additional 4% increase" meant. Was it just careless wording?

Having a special-called non-emergency meeting on two days' notice, on a Friday after-hours, is stupid. Expecting staff to show up to deliver reports on a Friday night is completely disrespectful. Nothing will get done over the week-end. Staff already have their Monday-Tuesday workloads arranged. Will the supt. call in staff to work over the week-end on any decisions reached tomorrow night? They should say NO.

The way you train a kid to stop asking for candy is to say "No" one time - and mean it. The kid might ask 2-3-5-10-15-20 times. Don't give in. If you give in, then you have just trained the kid to keep asking until he gets it.

I thought the Sept. 14 meeting was bad. That was until last night. Remember that Teresa said "The children are watching." What did they learn last night from the chaos, disrespect, ignorance, rudeness? 

I don't even think that Robert's Rules of Order training will help several people on the board. They are past learning, partly because they have forgotten how to listen.

Enjoy your Friday evening and your week-end. Skip the special-called meeting.

Train Teresa back to a standard of reasonableness and courtesy. Don't be bullied.

Gus Philpott

The Supt's Raise

Today I'm concerned about the wording in the Motion for the superintendent's raise.

The motion provides, in part, "an additional four percent (4%) increase in his annual salary, effective July 1, 2021."

What does "additional" mean? 

Did he get a raise about which the public wasn't told, and this is an additional 4% increase?

Or did McKie mean "a four percent (4%) increase in his annual salary, effective July 1, 2021"?

And, since the raise was retroactive to the beginning of the 2021-2022 School Year, what was the hurry to approve it, either on September 14 or September 22?

I'm telling you, folks. "The Four" (Holmes, McKie, Caution-Parker, Manning) need to go. The sooner, the better.

9/22/21-V Meeting - Question Called. And then? Down, down, down.

Part V

(1:45:00) Holmes called for the Question and asked for the Motion to be reiterated.

At this point in the meeting, the agenda has not yet been approved! Manning previously called for the question, although Holmes gave the nod to McKie for doing so.

I wonder whether any of Holmes' pastors were there. If so, how ever were they keeping a straight face?

(1:45:17) Agostini called a Point of Order, while McKie was explaining that she had made the motion and that Caution-Parker had seconded. The Motion was on the projection screen.

Agostini said, "Point of Order, Madame Chair."

(1:45:27) Agostini was recognized. She reminded the chair that before they could vote on the Motion to Approve the agenda, they must first vote on Manning's Call of Order (Agostini meant Question). NOTE: While Agostini is speaking, Holmes is having a side-conversation with Manning!

Holmes said she didn't hear Agostini. How could she not hear the loud and clear statement by Agostini? That's because Holmes was NOT PAYING ATTENTION!

At this point, Holmes is lost in space.

McKie rescued her by stating that Agostini called for the question. (Manning had actually called for it, but Holmes had nodded to McKie.)

Manning seconded. Holmes said, "Let's call for the vote." Passed unanimously. Holmes is again lost. Note: it was the Call for the Question vote that passed; not the Vote on the Motion to approve the agenda. Holmes begins scrolling on her tablet; she's lost and doesn't know what to do next. Holmes hands her tablet to Manning. She ought to know what to do without handling her tablet!

Holmes announced that the pending Motion (to Approve the Agenda) passes 7-0.

Holmes said they'd now go to Item 4.1 Superintendent's Contract. Notice the confused look on her face. She asks, "Are we on that?"

Someone informs Holmes that the Motion to Approve the Agenda did not pass unanimously. Holmes tells Agostini that she thought Agostini voted in the affirm. Agostini corrects her and says she voted to approve the Call of the Question.

McKie begins speaking and explains to McFadden what is happening.

Holmes never announces the corrected vote as 6-1. 

Holmes expresses her confusion. "Let's get some order. Let me get some clarity, please. Where [sic] we at, Mr. Manning?"  Hello, isn't there supposed to be verb in that question?

(1:47:57) Now Item 4.1 Superintendent's Contract

Motion by McKie to approve the superintendent's contract, including the previously-approved contract extension to 6/30/2025; 4% raise effective 7/1/2021; 18 month severance pay, payment of unused leave if he dies under contract. Second by Caution-Parker (of course).

Trustee Scott moved to provide 12 months' severance, not 18 months. Second by McFadden. No discussion. Holmes can't see the Motion on the projection scrfeen. Does she need glasses? Hand Vote: 3-4. Motion fails.

Holmes asks if there is another motion. Asks McKie to re-state her primary motion. 

Scott wanted to speak. Holmes stopped her, because she hadn't called for Discussion yet. Pause. Now there's discussion.

Trustee Scott expressed sadness that no compromise could be reached to achieve a unanimous vote on the contract. Referred to "people" (meaaning some board members) who are control freaks, "my way or the highway". Would not compromise on even one minor thing. 

Manning objected to use of "control freaks". Someone should have called a Point of Order. His comment had nothing to do with the contract. It was NOT germane, whereas Scott's comment was germane. Manning criticized Scott without naming her. Crude and disrespectful, and can't cover it up with "nice". 

Manning whined that the superintendent got no large bonus for dealing with COVID. Well, he got paid $223,000+ for doing his job! His job this past year involved dealing with COVID!

(1:56:40) Manning said, "Dr. Davis does not have two annuities in his contract." So, it seems to me that he must have one. Does the public know about that? How much is the contribution to that annuity?

Trustee Scott returned to the 18 months' severance. She said there are no African-American superintendents that have 18 months' severance. Acknowledges that the District's attorney, Kathy Mahoney, was stting in the meeting.

Trustee Agostini called a Point of Order and was ignored by Holmes. She called Point of Order two more times.

Holmes said, "Mrs. Agostini, I AM THE POINT OF ORDER at this time."

Agostini again, "Point of Order".

Agostini supported what Scott was saying and got interrupted by Holmes.


Holmes claims even individual prior research that was later mentioned in executive session cannot be stated in public. HOLMES IS ABSOLUTELY WRONG.

Agostini had a Point of Order on the floor, when Manning called the Question. Many were talking at the same time. One trustee didn't know what they were voting on. 


Somebody off-camera and off-microphone was talking and explaining something. Manning was having a side-conversation with McFadden. I called out "Can't hear." Manning turned on his microphone and spoke to the board and the audience. He explained incorrectly that the vote on the contract would follow the call of the question.

However, Agostini had a Point of Order on the floor that preceded Manning's Call for the Question.

Vote on the Call for the Questions: 5-2 Passed

Vote on Motion to approve the contract: Holmes announced, "Motion carries" without stating the vote, which was 5-2.

Agostini twice requested Point of Privilege.

Trustee Scott was recognized. She thanks the pastors who attended and asked them to continue to pray for the board. She asked for everybody here to back to the board meetings for budget, mask mandate policy.

(2:07:20) Holmes claimed a Point of Privilege ahead of McKie. Holmes should have yielded to McKie. Holmes had a prepared statement to read. She further wasted the time of the board and the community with unrelated comments relative to the purpose of the meeting. 

McKie asked for a Point of Privilege to toot her own horn. Barf.

The superintendent read a prepared statement. Whatever happened to spontaneous remarks?

Anyone else sick of hearing Premier - premier - premier....

(2:18:50) Adjourned. Holmes: "You all have a blessed evening"

Conclusion? PITIFUL!!!

Perhaps I ought to stock up on these and distribute them at future board meetings.

9/22/21-IV Meeting - slides downhill faster

Part IV

(1:31:15) Holmes then announced her "solution" and said she was calling a special-called board meeting. 

Remember now. The agenda for the night's meeting has not been approved yet!!! 

The lack of a Parliamentarian and the courtesy of "certain" board members meant that Holmes got away with rambling off-topic, blaming and defaming the three board members in minority; i.e., not in "The Four" or, as I call them, "The Squad". 

Holmes has no idea how to run a board meeting productively and efficiently. After the meeting adjourned, I introduced myself to Karla Hawkins, the new General Counsel for the District. I urged her to recommend that the District hire an independent Parliamentarian and to recommend training for the board in Robert's Rules of Order. Will she? 

Holmes announced that she would be calling a special meeting for Friday, September 24.

NO ONE would interrupt Holmes and remind her that the sole topic of last night's board meeting was the superintendent's contract. Thank goodness for Livestream. It's all right there. Watch it and watch Holmes continue to embarrass herself with her ignorance of parliamentary procedure.

"My thing is, do the work. Not the antics. The children are watching." What a dumb statement by a board chair.

(1:33:05) Two female board members asked to be recognized. Holmes retorted, "I am still talking."

(1:33:22) A board member asked to be recognized. Holmes: "I am still talking, please."

Dr. Scott asks the pastors in the audience to continue to pray for the board. She was offended by Holmes having accused her of walking out of the Sept. 14th meeting because she didn't care about someone, and Scott said that (Holmes' statement) was (1:34:42) a BOLD-FACED LIE. Trustee Scott said she walked out of the Sept. 14th meeting because she received information on the very day she was expected to vote and, due to schedule, she had had no time to review and consider the important information.

[After the meeting last night I suggested to an audience member that perhaps I ought to do an exorcism on Holmes. That person and I had been talking about good and evil. I've done some difficult exorcisms over the past 20 years, and I think I'd have a great time removing some of the devil's helpers from Holmes.]


(1:37:30) Trustee Agostini spoke again. She mentioned the inclusion of Public Participation in a Special-Called board meeting in December 2019 by Manniing (then-board chair) and the superintendent. She contradicted Manning's earlier statement about Public Participation in special-called meetings. Agostini said she had expressed understanding of the constraints on Manning (having to do Holmes' work), and Agostini felt the others (the Four?, including Holmes) had not reciprocated with understanding the need of The Three to have adequate time to understand the totality of the superintendent's contract terms.

Holmes then called Agostini a liar by saying "That's not factual." (1:39:43) Holmes cannot even keep meeting purposes and timing straight. She said she understood and that's why last night's meeting was being held. NO. Agostini was talking about the Sept. 14th meeting. 


(1:40:15) Manning interrupted and annouced that he would like to call the question. See Robert's Rules of Order §6:6-7. Then Holmes asked McKie if she was calling for the question, and McKie nodded, but made no audible response.

Trustee Scott began speaking and said she will not be there on Friday, due to short notice, having a life and having prior obligations. Scott accused Holmes of being "selfish" in announcing the special-called meeting for this Friday. She said board member were "told" about last night's meeting. They were not offered a choice of several dates, as in the past, so that a majority could choose the best date. Scott said "Dictatorship" won't work. 

Then Holmes grabbed the floor again, ignoring the Call for the Question. Holmes said there is no dictatorship on the board; there is responsibility. When a meeting is called, "You come and do your responsibility."

Seriously? What use of English language is that? What does "do your responsibility" mean??? That's a person with a doctorate? I guess I wonder about the quality of the school that awarded that to her, if they didn't teach her to speak decent English. She continued, "You don't do the derelection [sic] of duty and walk out of the meeting." She repeated the accusation of "derelection of duty" by Agostini, Scott and McFadden.

Holmes then declared that duly-elected officials are required [sic] to come to meetings. NOT TRUE. She then falsely stated that last night's special-called meeting would not have been necessary, if they had done their duty that evening (Sept. 14).

(1:42:35) Trustee Agostini asked to be recognized. Holmes: "I'm still talking."

Holmes said they were going to call for the question.

(1:43:00) Trustee McFadden was recognized and spoke. She said if the board (majority) had cooperated to table the superintendent's contract, the Sept. 14th meetiing could have continued. McFadden also used the word "dictatorship", referring to Holmes in the executive session.

(1:45:00) Holmes called for the Question and asked for the Motion to be reiterated.


9/22/21-III Meeting - starts downhill

Part III

The 9//22/21 meeting resumed at 1:16:48. After a faulty motion "to come out of" executive session by Manning and a second, the vote was unanimous.

Holmes: "We will now move on to Public ... No, no, no." Just exactly where was her head? Not in the game last night!

Then Holmes asked for approval of the agenda. At that point I wondered whether the agenda should have been approved at the beginning of the meeting, before the board left for executive session.

McKie moved to approve the agenda; second by Caution-Parker. Trustee Agostini spoke in discussion. Agostini and another board member had requested that student appeals and admissions into adult education included in tonight's agenda. The reason given to Agostini and the other board member was that the request had not been made in a timely manner (three business days). Agostini mentioned a School Boards Assn. resolution that had been added late by a staffer to the previous meeting's agenda. 

McKie made a useless, irrelevant comment to promote herself. It was not germane to Agostini's comment.

Dr. Scott identified herself as the other board member who had asked for addition of student appeals and admission to adult education to last night's agenda. Scott said the request was made, as allowed by Board Policy, and that the board chair (Holmes) had not approved it.

Manning stated that he supported the chair's decision not to include those items. Manning blamed "hot (or high?) passions" about the superintendent's contract to the point that "folks" (he means Agostini, Scott, McFadden) needed to leave the (Sept. 14) meeting and "disrupt the business of the District." WHAT? Then Manning mentioned an email from a community member who openly asked board members to again walk out of a meeting and to not conduct the business of the District.

I suspect Manning was referring to me (Gus Philpott). If he was, he lied. I recommended that Agostini, Scott and McFadden not show up for the Sept. 22 special-called meeting, not that they walk out of the meeting. Then he refers to requests (PLURAL) from the public for board members to walk out...  Really? More than one request? Then he refers to "legal counsel" that Holmes had mentioned earlier.

WRONG. Not legal counsel to the District. Holmes referred to a training class conducted at an SCSBA meeting by an attorney. That is NOT "legal counsel" to the District.

Agostini added that she was troubled not to see Public Participation on the agenda. 

Scott spoke about Manning's comment. She referred to the pastors in the room. Scott stated that NO community member contacted her and asked her to walk out of the (Sept. 14th) meeting. By that time, the public must have been greatly confused about the comments being made about two different meetings!

There were 11 black members of the public seated on the left side facing the board. Were some of them pastors? Were they there to support the superintendent? Manning greeted some of them before the meeting started. Manning did not greet any of the white members of the audience. 

Manning was allowed to speak again. He tried to kowtow out of referring to any particular individual, but only three board members walked out, so he was definitely referring to one or more of them!

Holmes totally disregarded Robert's Rules of Order about how often a board member can speak during discussion. My guess is she didn't "disregard" Robert's Rules. My guess is that she is ignorant of Robert's Rules of Order.

One more reason that Richland 2 should hire an independent Parliamentarian. That would have been a better use of 4% of the superintendent's $223,000 than giving him a raise.

Manning tried to clarify that the email from the community member came out after the (Sept. 14) board meeting, but then he erroneously added "... again requesting board members to walk out..." That implies a first request to walk out. Is he just careless with wording?

Holmes and Manning (and others) fail to acknowledge the reason that the three trustees walked out of the Sept. 14th meeting. It was that information was released to them piecemeal and late. They made the right decision to leave the meeting!

All of their ramblings were unrelated to the Motion that was on the floor. That motion was to approve the agenda. A Parliamentarian would have gotten the board back on track!

Then Manning slammed Agostini (not by name) for voting against approval of the agenda in many meetings. He said "board members", but he was referring to Agostini. She has, in fact, a very good reason for voting "No" on the agenda in meeting after meeting. Manning snide comment was not germane to the discussion and should have been cut off. However, Holmes did not cut him off.

At 1:25:54 Holmes decided that she wanted to say something. At that time the only thing she should have said was "Now we'll vote." Remeber the motion on the floor? The one to approve the agenda?

Holmes read Board Policy BE about special-called meetings.It was already typed up and ready to be read. She said what's new about that meeting was the "attitude" about it. She made an erroneous statement that nothing could be added to the agenda of a special-called board meeting. SHE IS FLAT WRONG. Then she proceeded to drag on about what did not get handled at the Sept. 14th meeting. Her comments were not germane (remember that word from the last meeting that seemed to come out of the ether?) to approving last night's agenda!

She referred to a "COVAD" ("Excuse me, COVID") update. She stated, erroneously, how "everybody" was "miraculously" concerned about those issues at this meeting but not on Sept. 14. Holmes maligned the three walk-out board members for not wanting to vote their conscience and Holmes said (1:29:00) "... they were waiting for certain other people to give them directive as to how to (unintelligble) disrupt the proceedings of this board." DEFAMATORY!


The Holmes makes a confusing, and wrong, statement about Public Participation.

Remember that Holmes was nominated by Manning on June 29th to be board chair, shortly after a "member of the public" (yours truly) implored the full board to nominate only persons who were fully entitled to be on the board and therefore eligible to be a board officer. Holmes is not legitimately on the board (she has never taken the oath of office legally) and so cannot legitimately be the board chair. But there she is.

There was no issue whatsoever about "fairness" in a decision to have or not have Public Participation. 

(1:31:00) Holmes then accused "certain (board) members" on not having done their "due diligence" of providing a vote (at the Sept. 14 board meeting on the superintendent's contract. Holmes does not even know what "due diligence" is. 

(1:31:15) Then she announced the next special-called board meeting. 

Remember now. The agenda for the night's meeting has not been approved yet!!! 

See the next article.

9/22/21-II Meeting - Opening. No Call to Order

Part II

On the livestream recording of last night's meeting, nothing happens until 14:33. You can sit there and stare at the notice that the meeting starts at 5:30PM, or you can fast-forward to 14:33.

Is the 9/22/21 meeting even a legal meeting? 

Notice that Teresa Holmes never even calls the meeting to order. I thought that was what happened last night and confirmed it by watchng the recording this morning. As the recording begins at 14:33, she is holding papers and looking off to her left. She seems to confirm her microphone is on and then laughs and giggles. Then she fiddles with her hair. What is she laughing at? Is someone speaking to her through an earpiece? Is that why she is laughing? When she starts speaking, she hasn't gotten any visual cue from the left.

Her first words are "Good evening. Before we go into executive session, I am going to read you all something." Holmes then referred to an end-of-August S.C. School Boards Assn. training where a lawyer recommended that a special-called meeting for the sole purpose of conducting a superintendent's evaluation process be held. She considers the contract revision to be part of the process.

Then she proceeded to lecture the audience about "a little history". 

Before I continue with the analysis, keep in mind it has been the tradition of Richland 2 to exclude Public Participation from special-called meetings. I assert that the superintendent knew that well when, on Sept. 14, he requested a special-called meeting. After all, why have a roomful of people who oppose a raise for him and the manner in which it was attempted?

Holmes then continued with "history", which nobody needed to hear. She spoke about a 2018 meeting, which was at the time of Hurricane Florence. No one cared what was on that 2018 agenda. That was before Holmes was even elected to the board (not to belabor the fact that it was also before she ever became a legal member of the board - which she still has not.). She beat to death that 2018 meeting sequence, which was for a superintendent's evaluation, not the contract.

At 18:05 Holmes asked for a motion to go into executive session.

NOTE: Holmes never called the meeting to order. Without that, NO meeting had officially started. Was the secret "executive session" meeting, in fact, an illegal meeting of the school board, out of view of the public?

It is no different than had the seven met at a private room in a restaurant to talk for an hour about the superintendent's contract; i.e., to discuss the business of the District.

Should Richland 2 end up in court over this? (And other legal matters?) Hint: the correct answer is "Yes."

McKie moved to "recess public session" (which had never officially started) and enter executive session. Caution-Parker made her contribution of the evening by seconding that motion. Holmes asked for a hand vote "as all of us do not have our devices ready". Why not?

NO ONE spoke up about the failure of Holmes to call the meeting to order. At 18:50 they left for the secret, illegal meeting.

I had noticed Holmes' failure to call the meeting to order and said so to the two members of the audience seated in front of me.

If the District had a Parliamentarian, that person would have corrected the error right then and there and prevented a violation of the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act.  Title 30, Chapter 4.

The meeting resumed at 1:16:48. Holmes announced the time as 6:30 and proceeded to call the meeting to order. WRONG! It was actually time to re-convene the meeting, but that could not occur because the meeting had never officially started!

And then Holmes proceeded to call for a motion to go into executive session, but she stopped herself. Where was her brain? Fully engaged in the present meeting? I. Don't. Think. So.

Analysis continued in next articles.

9/22/21-I Meeting - Chaos!

Part I

Who referred to last night's meeting as chaos? (Before I did, I mean.)

WACH.TV (Columbia's Fox TV 57)

"Richland Two board meeting erupts in chaos before passing new Superintendent contract"

WIS-TV: Found the story earlier on my phone, but at 8:15AM there is no story on about last night's board meeting.

The State: Reporter Lucas Daprile was kind to Richland 2, using words like "infighting", "bickering", and "fractures".

Post and Courier: "heated exchanges", and quoting Holmes: "dereliction of duty", "antics".

"Columbia-area board OKs superintendent contract week after walkout amid new tensions"

Last night's meeting was a classic example of how not to conduct a board meeting. When a meeting disintegrates into chaos and name-calling, you have to first look at the leadership (if there is any).

In the case of the Richland 2 board, leadership is severely lacking. In a serious of articles to follow, I'll give clear examples of the lack of leadership. 

If you didn't attend last night, in-person or online, you can catch the replay at

Select the September 22, 2021 meeting.

Notice the carelessness of Richland 2 in the title, "092221SpecialCalledBoardOfTrusteesMeetin". They'll probably edit that, but this is what it looked like this morning.

                                                                       (Click to enlarge)