Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Paid Vacation for teacher with fatal DUI ticket

On December 14th I wrote about a Blythewood Middle School teacher, Aja Adams, who was charged with four motor vehicle violations, including hit-and-run and felony DUI involving a death. That earlier article is here.

The Voice of Blythewood dug out more details. Its December 22nd article is here.

The crash occurred on November 29 on Hard Scrabble Road at Clemson Road. Brown apparently collided with a moped about 10:30PM. One man on the moped died; the other was injured.

How did Richland 2 react? The District, according to the Voice of Blythewood, put Brown on paid administrative leave.

WHOA! What kind of deal is that???

So Brown gets arrested on a felony fatal DUI charge and gets a paid vacation for a while?

Sure, she is presumed innocent until found guilty. She supposedly was the only occupant of her car. Did the moped back into her? How much doubt is there that she caused the crash? 

The Voice of Blythewood is still trying to get the trooper's report. What was Brown's BAC? Where was she partying before the crash?

Do you feel it is wrong to put her on "paid" administrative leave?

Why not put her on unpaid administrative leave? Oh, I know. This is where diversity, equity and inclusion come into play!

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Board Members - how available?

Board members are the executives, elected by the voters, to direct, guide, steer the District. They cannot be subject to the whims of each District resident or employee. 

Board Members should guard their time jealously, receiving communications from interested persons but not feeling bound to reply to every email or return every phone call. 

Only a reasonable numbers of hours per month should be expected from them. Shortening the number of Meeting hours might increase their availability to the public. They cannot have an "open door" policy. They may or may not reply to your emails.

Nonsense from Teresa Holmes


Look at this nonsense on Facebook from former Richland 2 school board member Teresa Holmes. This tripe is posted on her Facebook page titled "Dr. Teresa Holmes, School Board Member Richland Two" and it was published December 1, 2022. That's after her term on the board expired!

Thanks to the citizen who provided this to me. Teresa's page is locked as private, and she has blocked me from reading it. 

Teresa is fully entitled to spew whatever she wants about staying "woke"

First of all, she should not be posting anything after November 21, 2022 that refers to her as a school board member.

In Teresa's world there is her truth and your truth. What she has never acknowledged is that there is The Truth. 

It was Teresa and her crew in the "Core Four" that created the chaos and disorder of the last four years. That time has passed. They are gone. I wished her well in the last election, hoping she would come in no worse that 12th (in a field of 12 candidates for the four positions). Thank goodness, she came in a a clear Fifth and not good enough to make the cut.

Richland Two is being asked to direct Teresa to cease making any reference to current school board membership and to indicate clearly on any media pages that she is a former school board member.

Dec. 13 board meeting still on R2 homepage

Here's what happens when no one is in charge.

Libby Roof left in November. Greg Turchetta doesn't start until January 9.

Why is the December 13th board meeting still on the homepage of the District? It should have been removed on December 14.

Doesn't anyone in the Media Dept. know what to do (or have permission to do it)?

If a school catches on fire while the superintendent is away, does anyone have permission to call the Fire Department?

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

McKie should close FB page


Amelia McKie is no longer a school board member. Aside from the fact that she never took the oath-of-office legally at any time during her second term (2018-2022) and, thus, was never a legitimate board member, this page should be closed.

If she doesn't close it completely, it should clearly and prominently disclose that she is no longer a school board member.

Will the District take action to require her to close or remove identification about the school board? 

Since that was her public page as an elected official, she should not have blocked me (and others) from reading content on that Facebook page.

Her term-of-office ended on November 21, 2022, when the new board members were sworn in. 

Where is Amelia McKie?

Merry Christmas, Amelia McKie. Santa Claus is looking for you. He has some switches and a bag of coal for you.

On November 30, 2022 the S.C. Ethics Commission issued a Decision & Order (D&O) in the case of Amelia McKie. She was fined $1,550 for failing to include her 2020 school board income of $9,600 in her 2021 Statement of Economic Interest Report that was filed on January 12, 2021. 

The D&O was sent to her by Certified Mail, return receipt requested. This followed a hearing on October 20th at the Ethics Commission.

The D&O provides that she can appeal the D&O within ten days of receipt of the D&O. 

The Problem? McKie has not accepted the Certified Mail. This means that the 10-day appeal period has not started yet.

McKie's mailing address, on record with the Ethics Commission, is P.O. Box 291173 (29229). This would be the Post Office at 1805 Clemson Road. 

McKie may or may not still live in Richland 2 school boundaries. By using a P.O. Box, it is impossible to know where she actually lives. 

It is reasonable to assume that McKie is picking up her mail. She either leaves the USPS Notice of Certified Mail in her box or she takes it and discards it. She would have to go to the counter and ask for her Certified Mail and then sign the receipt for it. That receipt would then be sent to the Ethics Commission.

Once McKie receives the D&O, then 10-day period starts. If she doesn't appeal, then she has 90 days from receipt of the D&O to pay the $1,550. If she doesn't, then $1,000 will be added, and the Ethics Commission will file a Judgment for $2,550 in the Richland County Common Pleas Court. That's where they filed a Judgement on 7/10/2019 for $51,750.

McKie owes the Ethics Commission $57,100, excluding this latest fine. 

That is the person who was a Richland 2 school board member for eight years. That's the person who never took the oath-of-office legally for her second term. That's the person whom the (previous) board (the majority Four) chose to represent Richland 2 on the South Carolina School Boards Association. 

At the October 20th Ethics Commission hearing, McKie claimed she had not received the original, October 2021 complaint. She claimed not to know about the Complaint until an investigator called her in December (2021). 

If you spot Amelia McKie out and about, politely ask her to be responsible about this obligation. Do not harass her or argue with her. 

[Edited 12/22/2022]

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Florida 12-year-old shoots self

Read carefully this reporting of a shooting in Lakeland, Florida, where a 12-year-old boy shot himself at a friend's house. Apparently, the kid found the gun in a car at that house.

Richland 2 should institute safe gun-handling training for all students, starting in elementary school. 

In a year what has BeSMART really done, except learn how to repeat its "Did You Know?" questions? Or hand out gun locks?

How about some education?

You teach kids that, if you point a gun at yourself (or someone else) and pull the trigger, you may just cause an irrevocable act. 

"I'm sorry" isn't going to work. "I didn't know it was loaded" isn't going to work. "I didn't mean to" isn't going to work.

Even in that short article, you can see the parental failures. 

It's not just kids who are stupid and careless with guns. There is a link in that article about two cops who were roommates. One was fooling around and shot the other. Just. Plain. Stupid.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Drinking & Driving? Not a good idea

Most people will acknowledge that drinking and driving are not a good idea. And yet people still do it. 

Aja Adams (black, female, age 27) was charged on December 14, 2022 with four traffic violations, including hit-and-run with injury, felony DUI, DUI involving death. $75,000 Bond.

There is an Aja Adams listed on the teacher rolls at Blythewood Middle School.

So far, nothing in the news.

Persons charged are presumed innocent.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Libby Roof's Replacement

Libby Roof is gone. The new guy's not here yet. Who wrote the press release for the new guy? You can bet that the superintendent approved it.

Why does the press release lie about Libby's departure?

In the next-to-last paragraph, the press release read, "He will officially take the helm in Richland Two on Monday, January 9, 2023. Turchetta is replacing Elizabeth “Libby” Roof who transitioned to Lexington School District One in November."

NO, Libby did not "transition" to Lexington One. She quit. And she had a new job at Lex 1 lined up. Why the lie?

The new guy is Greg Turchetta, and he starts January 9.

Read the press release here. Read about his "background in digital marketing and media strategy ... (and) news director, assistant news director and executive producer at various television stations in Texas, Florida, Georgia and Washington."

And then ask yourself: Why does a school district want or need a person with those credentials to run the communications department of a public school district? There is no marketing needed. The District has nothing to sell. It's not Ford or Chevy or Subaru or Hyundai or Kia. The District is not selling houses or soap or TVs. It's not "selling" anything.

Wasn't Libby being paid $140,000/year plus benefits? What is Turchetta's salary? $160,000? $180,000? Plus benefits.

What is the purpose of a board of directors (here, called board of trustees)? What is the function of a board? 

Does this early decision by the new board bode well for the taxpayers? Did they get hornswoggled at their first meeting?

Friday, December 9, 2022

Exposing Newsguard

                                                                               Click to Play

Watch this Fireside Chat with Dennis Prager and Marissa Streit, CEO of PragerU.

They rip Newsguard. Listen to Dennis distinguish between The Left and Liberals. 

Find out who the most dangerous man in America is.

This will be 30 minutes well-spent.

Then go to PragerU.com and sign the petition

Thursday, December 8, 2022

CUBE Conference in Miami

Remember the infamous CUBE Conference in Miami that departing Richland 2 trustees were going to treat themselves to in September? The one that got postponed, thanks to Hurricane Ian?

Well, it's happening right now. December 8-10, 2022.

How many Richland 2 trustees are there? Will we get a report at the school board meeting on December 13th?

On July 1, 2022 each of the seven trustees' slots on the board became entitled to $7,000 in spending money for travel and training. Those trustees were Holmes, Manning, McKie, Caution-Parker, Agostini, Scott, and McFadden.

How much money was left in the accounts of Holmes, Manning, McKie, and Caution-Parker on November 21, when the term of the new school board members (Nash, Porter, Trapp, and Washington) started?

Maybe it's about time to file a FOIA request  for that information.

The new trustees should have have whatever is left over from the $7,000 awarded on July 1. They don't get the full $7,000. 

Will the superintendent provide a report to the board (in public) for each account, listing how much was spent during the period 7/1/2022-11/21/2022 by the four who left the board and how much is remaining for the four new trustees?

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

McKie fined $1550 by Ethics Commission

Former Richland 2 school board member Amelia McKie has been fined $1,550 by the South Carolina Ethics Commission. The Decision & Order is dated November 30, 2022.

McKie had failed to report her 2020 Richland 2 income of $9,600 on her 2021 Statement of Economic Interests (SEI). Her original 2020 SEI was filed on January 12, 2021. 

After a complaint was filed in October 2021 with the Ethics Commission, McKie amended her SEI on December 23, 2021 and reported her Richland 2 income.

In April 2022 the Ethics Commission found probable cause and the complaint became public. A hearing was scheduled for June 2022, but it was postponed until October 20, 2022. The Commission held a hearing into this matter on October 20th and began deliberations.

McKie told the three hearing commissioners that she did not intend to violate the Ethics Act and that she had misinterpreted the requirement of the Act.

McKie didn't seem to have any problem with interpreting the Act correctly in previous years, because she reported her Richland 2 income on her SEIs for Report Years 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015. The "Report Year" is for the previous calendar year.

Under the Decision & Order, McKie is "Publicly Reprimanded" and is fined $1,000 for the violation plus an administrative fee of $550, totaling $1,550. The full amount is payable within 90 days of her receipt of the Decision & Order. 

Should she fail to pay the full amount within those 90 days, a Judgment for $2,550 will be entered in the appropriate court.

McKie has ten days from her receipt of the Decision & Order to appeal to the full Ethics Commission.

Should she appeal, a transcript of the October 20, 2022 Hearing will be created. I am especially interested in reading the transcript for anything she had to say about being harassed and followed. I shall carefully scrutinize those remarks for their truthfulness.

A Judgment of $51,750 was filed in the Richland County Common Pleas Court on July 10, 2019. Her balance owed to the Ethics Commission, prior to this new fine, is in the neighborhood of $57,100.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Board Members' Email "To All" OK?

The Inspector General's Report hit the previous Richland 2 Board hard about the use of "Reply All" in emails. The IG apparently felt that such use violated the FOIA statute in South Carolina.

I'm not a lawyer, and I disagree. 

Board members should be allowed to express opinions and discuss board business by email, including sending email to all the other board members and using "Reply All". This would save considerable time, because they can be educated between meetings. They should be careful not to solicit voting commitments or to "survey" other members about future votes.

Such emails would be subject to disclosure under FOIA requests, and such emails should not be used to avoid discussion in public at board meetings.

All board members now have and should be using the District's official email system. Personal email accounts should not be used to discuss official school district business. 

Because two board members used personal email addresses for 4-10 years, the school district should be proactive in securing those GMail accounts and preserving ALL emails related to official business. NOW is the time for the District to take action on this. It should not wait for any future FOIA request. Those two board members should not delete any  official emails from those accounts -ever. And they should not close those email accounts.

That problem with those two personal email accounts could have been fixed four years ago, but it wasn't.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

BeSMART MOU w/Richland 2 - worthless?

What are the odds that a student will be killed by a gun in a school in the United States? 

Would you believe 1 in 5,000,000?

An article in The Boston Globe (5/27/22) reported, "Yet the risk of such fatalities at school is actually low. ... with more than 50 million school children in America, the likelihood is about 1 in 5 million that a child will be killed by an armed assailant at school in any given year."

I'm not a fan of anything to do with Michael Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety. In my book, it is an anti-gun organization, not an anti-gun-violence organization.

At the November 29th school board meeting, two representatives of BeSMART which, along with MOMs Demand Action, is aligned with Everytown, spent much of their three minutes asking "Did You Know..." questions. They didn't provide any answers. It was as "flat" presentation without any energy. If you want to watch it, go to (1:40:19) at   https://livestream.com/richland2/events/10692311/videos/233986166

It was a year ago that Richland 2, with great fanfare, announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with other area school districts, healthcare facilities, and law-enforcement. But it seems to me that the incidence of guns at Richland 2 schools has increased.

BeSmart has given away lots of gun locks. Gun locks are not the answer. Education is the answer.

It is the mindset of students that must be changed. Safe handling of firearms will reduce some injuries, but stopping the kids from bringing guns to schools or stealing them from Richland County vehicles is what is needed. And stopping them from using guns to settle differences and in crimes will not be accomplished by gun locks.

School administrators know the kids most likely to bring guns to schools. Identify them. Watch them like hawks. Engage with them. 

Is that profiling? Even if it is, do it. Are we going to reduce gun violence or just talk about it?

Saturday, December 3, 2022

District Investigations - Who is involved?

Remember when the news came out about the Blazers' football team scandal of Ridge View High School?

There are many unanswered questions. The public wants to know the answers. Parents want to know the answers. I'm sure members of the football team would like to know the answers. 

And I'm also sure that there are some faculty and administrators who would like to know the answers.

What are just some of the questions?

- Who was RSD2's P.I. for the football players' residency investigation?

- Does Richland School District Two (RSD2) have a private investigator on retainer or salary?

- Why does RSD2 have a P.I.?

- Under what conditions is a P.I. used?  

- How much is a P.I. paid?

- Who EXACTLY determines when they are to follow and whom they are to follow?  

- Does the School Board have to approve the target of the investigation or does the District Office (DO) decide on their own?

- Are they placing electronic surveillance or tracking devices on students', faculty, or staff automobiles?  

- Is the P.I. (or any RSD2 staff) driving by teachers' homes when they call in sick, to see if their cars are in the driveways?

- Are the DO and their PI able to track teachers' movements because they force teachers to use their personal cell phones as part of district computer safety protocols?

- Is having a PI standard practice for other districts?

- To what extent is RSD2 Safety & Security Director Marq Claxton involved as a P.I. or in the hiring of one? He is a former NYPD officer and detective. 

Do you have other questions? Post them below in Comments or email them to gusphilpott@gmail.com

Mold already on the RVHS Football Scandal

How quickly the scandal involving the Ridge View High School Blazers football team was buried! 

What is really the whole story? Who is investigating? Is anyone investigating?

Who is leading any investigation? Principal Brenda Mack (Foxworth no longer appears on the school's webpage)? Deputy Superintendent Marshalynn Franklin? Superintendent Baron Davis? Anyone?

The residency violation(s) or recruiting violation(s) should not be swept under the rug. 

The Blazers' entire football year blew up. Who was responsible?

It is the superintendent's responsibility to get to the bottom of it, and the board of trustees should demand a report with a full examination of the details. Oh, the District will want to say, "We can't talk about it; it's a human resources issue." Or, it's an Executive Session item. Wrong!


Was it utter carelessness in the Administration? Not likely. Were there recruiting violations? More likely. Did people in-the-know speak up? Were they shut down?

The Inspector General's Report indicated a huge lapse in the District's policies and procedures are investigating wrong-doing. 

This makes it a Board matter.

Index for Nov. 29th Board Meeting

Following is an index for the November 29th board meeting, to help you find specific portions of the meeting without listening to all of it. The recorded meeting is at   https://livestream.com/richland2/events/10692311/videos/233986166  The times shown are for the time-marker on the recording.

05:54 Beginning of the 5:30PM brief open session, after which the board moved to Executive Session.

1:19:36 Open session re-convened. Executive session ran late.

1:21:37 Inspirational Moment and Pledge of Allegiance

1:31:34 Approval of Agenda

1:32:42 Approval of Consent Agenda

1:35:28 Public Participation. First two names called were no-shows. 

     1:36:50 Gus Philpott

     1:40:19 Angela VanDelay for BeSmart

     1:43:35 David Oberly

1:46:24 Voting on Executive Session items

2:08:03 SCSBA Resolutions

2:28:35 Superintendent's Highlights

2:35:36 Q1 Pupil Services Report

2:51:11 Q1 Financial Report

3:19:03 Draft Agenda

3:25:54 Board and Superintendent Comments

3:34:24 Adjourn

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Inspector General's Report - Now what?

The South Carolina State Inspector General released his report on Richland 2 early in November. My first story was on November 3rd. (Go to TheState.com and search for "Inspector General". The Report is not among results.)

OK, now what? 

Will Richland 2 just sweep it under the rug? Just file it under Miscellaneous?

At the November 29th board meeting I asked the Board to appoint a committee to examine the Report and make recommendations for action. And there is a LOT of action that should take place. One board member could be the liaison with the board, and the committee could include parents, community members, teachers and staff (if they are brave enough), and other interested parties.

Have you read the Report? 

Read it now (or again). Go directly to it by clicking here.

If you believe the School Board should take action on this Report, email them now. Their email addresses can be found here: https://www.richland2.org/School-Board/Members

Click on a Trustee's name for the next webpage, which shows the email address and phone number.