Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Agostini & Scott wanted more time on Policy KE

As the discussion to revise Board Policy KE continued at the March 22, 2022 board meeting, Trustee Scott said she would like the board to have more time to discuss and revise Policy KE.

Pick up her statement on at (2:04:00). 

What she should have done is make a motion. Saying "What I would like ..." doesn't make anything happen. Most probably, she would have been outvoted by Holmes, McKie, Caution-Parker and Manning. But the only way to make something happen is to make a motion.

After Trustee Scott finished speaking, the superintendent butted in without asking to be recognized. (2:05:20) He re-stated that a community member or parent still has the right to complain to a board member. And the board member must refer the complaint "to the Office of the Superintendent".

Ahh, there's the third-person reference. Why doesn't he just say "to me" or "to my office"?

He said, "... the current policy allows the person to skip the chain-of-command and bring the grievance directly to the board."      WRONG!

He erred in his explanation of how a complaint to the board is handled by him. He inferred that he must make a decision based only on the information forwarded to him by a board member. That is just plain stupid. Of course, he would investigate it before making a decision. Who is he kidding? But no one challenged him!!!!

Here is where it got personal, although Baron didn't mention me by name.

(2:09:00) He said, in his experience, this Policy was brought up only one time. "And it was when we brought it to the attention of one constituent, who is now attempting to use it multiple times to inundate the work.. " 

And then he subjugates the District to the SCSBA...

Here's the deal ...  When the District mailed me the Trespass Notice, it contained NO appeal process. I inquired and was told there was NO appeal process. At that time I was NOT informed of Policy KE. But I did not let a little thing like no-appeal-process stop me. I filed an appeal, anyway!

I started up the food chain. Will Anderson, COO is Marq Claxton's immediate superior. Above him was Harry Miley, CFO. Then Marshalynn Franklin, Deputy Superintendent. Then Baron Davis, Superintendent. NOTE: I followed the chain-of-command. Exactly!!!

When Will Anderson received my appeal of the Trespass Notice and handled it, he denied my appeal and did so as the Designee of the Superintendent. So there was no need to climb the chain-of-command. I had the Superintendent's decision, and it was unsatisfactory. So then I filed my complaint with the board.

They chose to hear it in private and refused to allow me to attend. How's THAT for Due Process, Doctor. Cheryl. Caution. Parker??? And then they voted in public, also without allowing me to attend and speak. Was that fair to me, Doctor. Cheryl. Caution. Parker? 

(2:09:25) Then Baron said, "We presented this Policy to the Board two weeks ago. There was no input from the community regarding this policy until today. We received two emails today (!) before this board meeting about this policy. But for two weeks after presenting first reading there was no comment from members of the board, nor were there comments from members of the public about concerns this policy at that time."

So my question to Supt. Davis is, WHAT HAPPENED TO MY EMAIL ON FRIDAY, MARCH 18, 2022 AT 9:56AM? Did not any member of the board forward that email to you? Didn't the Chair forward her copy to you? Didn't the Vice-Chair forward his copy to you? Didn't the Secretary forward her copy to you? Didn't Cheryl (Due Process, former Deputy Supt.) Caution-Parker forward her copy to you?

Here is what I wrote to the Board on March 18, 2022 about proposed revisions to Board Policy KE.

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

At the March 22, 2022 board meeting Administration brings to you a revision to Board Policy KE Public Concerns and Complaints.

I urge you to reject the revisions to Board Policy KE. The existing Policy KE is sufficient to give the "Public" a right that is proper.

This revision would likely not even be on the Agenda but for the disruption that occurred on January 25th and the fact that Gary Ginn and I are not quietly sulking in a corner. You know who caused that disruption. That is the elephant in the room.

The revision, following the Model South Carolina School Boards Association (SCSBA) policy serves the administration, not the public. Beginning in the first sentence the word "patron" shows up. Who is that in the school district? That reflects bureaucratic design and influence and it disrespects and diminishes the "Public".

Why should Public Concerns and Complaints be resolved in "as informal a manner as possible"? Complaints should be properly accepted, registered and resolved by a formal policy. A Complaint is just that, and it should be taken seriously.

How can the Human Resources Director be tasked under Board Policy AC with resolving Public Concerns and Complaints which, by definition, are not personnel issues.

The SCSBA represents the bureaucratic arm of school boards (the board and the Administration), not the Public.

Board Policy KE should represent the Public.

The paragraph addressing defamation of a staff member is completely unnecessary. That employee is adequately protected under common law. That paragraph is just a bullying technique or hammer to warn off the public. There again is the influence of the SCSBA. The SCSBA does not run the Richland 2 school board. You do.

The superintendent is accountable to the school board. Removing the board's obligation to ultimately resolve a complaint is unfair to the public. If you approve the revision to Policy KE, you abdicate your responsibility as elected officials. 

When Item 8.3 comes up on Tuesday, please vote NO.

Gus Philpott

How (old) Policy KE worked

Continued from for March 22, 2022 at (1:56:35 )

Contrary to the explanation of the superintendent, here's how old Policy KE worked. A member of the public could complain to any board member, and that board member had to forward the complaint to the superintendent. 

A complaint to a board member is not a complaint to the board.

Upon receipt of the complaint, the superintendent should investigate it and respond to the board member. If the member of the public was not satisfied with the superintendent's decision, then he could register a complaint with the Board, and the Board was required to hear the grievance at the next Board meeting or a special-called board meeting.

This forced the superintendent to be accountable to the board. As he should be!!!

The chain-of-command was not violated, because the superintendent could always reach down for information. Presumably, the person complaining had already started up the food chain.

At 1:57:00 the superintendent unnecessarily referred to a past meeting when a person spoke at a board meeting and made some very harmful statements about an employee. What he failed to say was that the person had contacted the school over the prior week-end and, by the time of the following Tuesday night's board meeting, no one from the school or the district had contacted him. That's two business days!

The revised policy would not have helped at all, because the parent HAD contacted the school!!!

At 1:59:20 the superintendent again said that the (now-old) Policy KE lets a complaint go straight to the board. This is where I would have pulled a "Joe Wilson" and shouted "LIAR". That is simply untrue. More than "simply" untrue. It is a lie. 

Re-stated - the old KE allowed a person to complain to a board member. The board member had to forward it to the superintendent. If the superintendent's decision was unsatisfactory, the person then could file a complaint with the Board, and the Board was required to hear it. Under the new KE, now the board has the option to hear it or not.

Then Trustee McFadden asked how long the entire appeal process might take. The answer? Up to ten days at each step. Then the superintendent said it's not an unreasonable period of time because, in my words, people are busy.

Then Trustee Scott stated that Richland 2 runs Richland 2, and it doesn't have to accept the model policies from the SCSBA. She stated the proposed revisions were not in the best interests of the community, teachers, school board members. And she is concerned that the board is NOT obligated to address the complaint. RIGHT!!! 

What Trustee Scott should have done is make two motions. One: removed the defamation clause; Two: remove the option for the board not to address the complaint.

Chaos continues as KE discussion progresses

Continued from first segment on Board Policy KE revisions.

When Trustee Scott suggested that Trustee Agostini had had the floor for her motion, Holmes said she had not called for a motion. That was correct, because Agostini had beaten her to the punch. Agostini began reading her motion to continue Policy KE and not hear it last night.

At that point Holmes forgot she had recognized Agostini and blew right past the interruption by McKie. 

One of the problems Holmes has is that she cannot keep track of parliamentary procedure, and this is why she should not be Chair.

On the recording at 1:52:10, after Trustee Scott speaks, Holmes says that Ms. Agostini was "out of line". Then, after Manning speaks, saying Trustee Agostini should be allowed to continue with her Motion. (McKie's motion was made after Agostini started her motion.) Holmes says (about Agostini), I didn't know what she was gonna [sic] say. I couldn't hear what she was saying."

If Holmes could not hear Agostini after she had called on her, she should have said so immediately. As Chair, she is supposed to be running the meeting and listening to what is said!

Trustee Scott then said, in effect, that Trustee Agostini should have the floor. 

After more back and forth, Trustee McFadden jumped into the fray. She brought up the defamatory language in the Policy KE revision. She asked if the defamatory language would be applied to the public who spoke during Public Participation. Holmes said she "was going to let Dr. Davis" answer. How kind of her to "let" the superintendent speak.

Supt. Davis said the Policy (KE) has nothing to do with Public Participation. WRONG. Inserting the defamation language in the Policy revision does apply. If a person stands up in Public Participation and defames an district employee, it could apply. But that language doesn't even belong in Policy KE. Any employee has the legal right to seek redress, if s/he is defamed.

The he said, unnecessarily, that the Policy does not prevent any member of the public from emailing the board with questions or concerns. 

The superintendent said, INCORRECTLY, that the old (existing) Policy KE allows the public to supersede the chain-of-command ... going directly to the board to have their concern heard, without going to the teacher (or through the chain-of-command). 

This is WRONG. Under the old Policy, the public only goes directly to the board when the superintendent's decision is unsatisfactory. Either he doesn't even understand KE as it was, or he deliberately attempted to mislead the board members. He said the public can go directly to the board. That is FALSE.

1:56:35 Continued in next article.

Policy KE completely revamped, weakened; Holmes lies

At the March 22, 2022 board meeting Board Policy KE came up on the agenda as Item 8.3. On the recording the discussion begins at 1:50:50. It didn't take long for the discussion to dissolve into the chaos so familiar to all who have been attending and watching meetings for months.

As soon as the Chair called Item 8.3, Trustee Agostini asked to be recognized, and she was. (Holmes had not yet called for a motion.)

Trustee Agostini made a motion to continue Policy KE; that is, not to hold the discussion at that meeting.

As Trustee Agostini was reading her Motion, McKie butted in and began addressing the chair, asking the chair if she wanted the superintendent to explain Policy KE. This was TOTALLY OUT-OF-ORDER

First, McKie should not have interrupted Trustee Agostini. Robert's Rules of Order is very clear on that point. Secondly, McKie continued speaking without being recognized by the chair. Thirdly, McKie doesn't need to tell the chair how to run the meeting. (Somebody should, but not McKie.) Fourth, everyone there understood what KE is about and the superintendent's introduction was unnecessary. Fifth, McKie was just plain rude and unprofessional.

After the superintendent explained Item 8.3, Holmes asked for a motion to approve the revisions and recognized her buddy, Amelia McKie. McKie made a motion, and Holmes asked for a second.

BUT there was already a motion on the floor, started by Trustee Agostini before McKie so rudely butted in. I think it was Trustee Scott who tried to direct Holmes back to Trustee Agostini. Holmes made some reference to "she was out of line"; I think Holmes was referring to Agostini. WHAT?

This is where Holmes lost control and reverted to her autocratic, bullying tactics. Any progress made toward civility in a board meeting up until that point ended right there. Holmes again called for a Second, and McKie's sidekick, Caution-Parker, chimed in to second McKie's motion.

WAIT! What about Agostini's original motion???

Discussion was opened, and Manning was recognized. Manning finally addressed Agostini's start of a motion and said she should be allowed to continue. Then he said, "We're beyond that now", referring to McKie's motion which had been seconded. What he should have said was the McKie and Caution-Parker were wrong and that the correct motion on the floor was the one started by Agostini.

McKie's motion was out-of-order, because she had interrupted Agostini.

Then Holmes committed the unpardonable sin by saying that she didn't know what Agostini was going to say and couldn't hear what she was saying. That's because Holmes doesn't listen when Agostini begins speaking. Holmes should have shut down McKie, when McKie first opened her mouth, and Holmes should have asked Trustee Agostini to continue.

McKie said she was happy to defer, and Holmes did not accept that.

This Item 8.3 would be a great Case Study for how NOT to run a board meeting. It gets worse after this.

The Trustee Scott was recognized (1:53:27). She said that Holmes had called for a motion. Holmes actually had not called for a motion, because Agostini beat her to the punch, was recognized, and began reading her motion.

This thread will pick up with Trustee Scott's comment and Holmes' blatant lie. The lie? Holmes said she had not called for a motion (which is correct), but then she said she had called on the superintendent.

That's the lie. She had called on Trustee Agostini, who was interrupted by McKie and then Holmes called on the superintendent.

To be continued. 

Manning barks during setting of board calender

As the board calendar for 2022-2023 got further discussion in the March 22nd board meeting, Trustee Scott asked about the Winter Retreat on the calendar for Friday, February 3, 2023. The superintendent said he did that, because staff works all week and shouldn't have to work on a week-end (or words to that effect).

Trustee Agostini said she is a "planner" and, if a date goes on a calendar, she'd like to have whatever is planned to happen on that date.

Manning felt obliged to get long-winded about people who aren't flexible and won't change plans they might have. A self-employed person who plans meetings and events out into the future may not want to bear the expense and inconvenience of changing business plans that were made months before, just because the board majority wants to change a date. He was taking a direct shot at Trustee Agostini. A back-handed shot, but still a direct shot. He didn't mention her name, although he did later in the meeting.

This exchange can be viewed on the recording (March 22, 2022 meeting), beginning at 1:44:50.

Nov. 18th board meeting will waste $2,400+

At Item 8.2 on last night's agenda (3/22/2022), first called by Holmes at Item 5.2 ("I need my glasses on"), the school board discussed the 2022-2023 board calendar.  

Trustee Scott questioned the need for a special-called board meeting on Friday, November 18, 2022.

The superintendent stumbled over his explanation of that date on the calendar, first referring to it only as a proposed date. Somebody, whose voice was unintelligible to the audience, prompted him, and he said he remembered. He said it (that date) is tied to the election (November 9th) and "there needs to be a special-called meeting for the purpose of inducting (swearing in) board members". Then he said there would not be time during the upcoming board meeting.


How much time does it take to swear in the four board members who will be elected on November 9th? What? About five minutes? You stand up the four people. "Raise your right hands. Repeat after me." And it's done. "Take your seats."

Why not do it during a Regular Board Meeting, when the public is in attendance?

And, most importantly, why not do it so that the District doesn't waste money on a special-called meeting?

Keep in mind. The District did it incorrectly for ten years, until Trustee McFadden was to be sworn in in November 2020. I had pointed out that the term-of-office for a Trustee did not start until one week after the election was certified - at least, according to that pesky document called State law. For ten years (except one time when the certification was delayed (2012?)), the District had improperly seated trustees before their terms-of-office legally began.

How much does the district pay a trustee to attend a board meeting? $340 per trustee? and $400 to the Chair?

So, the "party" (ceremony), if held at a special-called meeting, will cost taxpayers $340 x 6, plus $400. That's $2040 + $400 = $2440 PLUS staff time? Dumb. Really dumb.

The superintendent's explanation didn't hold any water at all; the bucket had holes it. And the trustees didn't plug the holes. It's not too late; though. The trustees can still save the day later in the year by moving the swearing-in ceremony to November 29th.