Thursday, April 28, 2022

4/28/22 Meeting - Illegal Executive Session?

Wrong explanation, Teresa.

The April 28, 2022 board meeting was broadcast on  After the board meeting was called to order at 4:30PM, instead of just calling for the motion to go into executive session, Teresa Holmes gave an explanation of the meeting. She gave a misleading one, at that.

Holmes said, "Let me take a point-of-order here. (Wrong term; she meant point of personal privilege which she, as chair, did not even need to claim). I want to make a little clarity to the public tonight. This meeting is the way that we have to get to the public forum that we do plan to have later on. We have to go through committee first, which is what we are doing tonight, and then we'll talk about the things that we want to do. Dr. Davis and I will come back out later after and give a little brief update. I want the public to understand that this is the process that we have to go through first, before we go into private things of having people come in and however we are going to format that."

Then a motion to go into executive session was made and seconded, and off they went.

Did the Board hold an illegal executive session tonight?

After I wrote the above, I began thinking more about Executive Sessions. The reasons proscribed in State law that allow a public body to meet in secret are very limited. These can be read in the South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 30 Public Records, Chapter 4 Freedom of Information Act. Specifically, see 30-4-70.

Forming a Committee and discussing rules by which a committee might operate is not eligible for meeting out of public sight. They won't be discussing specific steps to improving safety and security. 

When Holmes said that they had to met in private to set the rules, she was wrong. Did they ask the in-house general counsel for a green light on that? Would that attorney, who is an employee of the District and who reports directly to the superintendent, say, "No, you can't do that"?

And then, when she said Dr. Davis and she would come out and give an update, did she mean they would disclose what was talked about in executive session? Somewhere, in all the fine print of the statute, I think it says that no one can talk in public about what was discussed in executive session. That point has been made very clear in previous board meetings.

The meeting re-convened on at 1:25:28.

What was the promised "little brief update"? Holmes said, "We appreciate you tonight. We covered a lot of ground. Parents, we want you to know we hear you. We're doing the work. We're doing the work to make sure that your children are safe." 

That's an update? Was anyone there in person who stuck around to the end to hear that?

At that point Manning enters the board room and takes his seat. Apparently, Trustee McFadden had departed.

Then trustee-elect McKie made a motion was made to come out of executive session.

And then Holmes forgot to ask for a motion to adjourn. After being prompted by the superintendent, Holmes asked for motion to adjourn. Why does she have such a hard time keeping her head in the game?

If that was an illegal executive session, any trustee can talk about it.

Which board member(s) blew past her Travel Allowance?

In the Draft Agenda portion of the April 26, 2022 board meeting, there was total chaos. What should have taken less than five minutes took over 30 minutes.

Start listening at 3:03:43 on when Trustee Agostini wants a report on each board member's expenditures for travel and training.

The Board Chair totally lost control of the meeting (if she ever had it, to begin with). 

The superintendent "feels uncomfortable" with sharing "anyone's personal financial use of funds" for travel and training with other board members. (3:26:20)

WHOA!!! Those aren't "personal financial funds". That's taxpayer money. That's public money. That's public information. What's up with his "feels uncomfortable"???

Trustee McFadden wanted to transfer some of her unused individual allowance to Trustee Scott, but she could not because the board has apparently gone over its total allowance for travel.

Finally the discussion got around to the impossibility that the total could have been exceeded, if Mrs. McFadden still had money in her account.

Rather than just saying that Trustee A and/or Trustee B overspent (without prior board consent), the superintendent beat around the bush. It was Classic Run-around.

Finally the superintendent stated that he should have done a better job at monitoring board member travel spending.

This is an EASY FIX. Just bill the board member(s) for the excess. Take it out of her next per diem check, until the amount is recaptured. What payroll clerk or travel reimbursement clerk failed to catch the over-expenditure? 

I'd be pretty sure that a clerk informed a supervisor, who should have informed a manager, who should have informed an administrator, who should have informed the superintendent. How far up the food chain did the notice go that one or more trustees blew through the budget cap on her individual spending allowance?

The superintendent admitted that there are board members who surpassed their travel allocations. (3:31:45) He said he should have been following each request for travel. ABSOLUTELY NOT. That's the job of a clerk, way down in the bowels of the Accounting Department.

WHO OVER-SPENT? I'll bet he knew and wouldn't say!

I'll be finding out. I shall file a FOIA request today for that information.

Chair bullies Trustee during Committee Creation

Be sure to view the portion of the April 26, 2022 Board meeting when they attempt to create a Committee for Safety and Security. Go to and pull the timer ribbon forward to 2:01:20.

The Board and the public had just listened to Teresa Holmes struggle to read the Update on Executive Coaching, and then Holmes began to call the same item as the next item, before realizing they had just "done that". 

There was no need to ask the superintendent to explain what they were about to do, but Holmes did. The superintendent said that a motion would be needed, a second, and approval. The chair asked for a motion, but then recognized Trustee McFadden, who had questions. Holmes said "we" want everyone's opinion (all the board members) and "we" want the community's opinion(s).

Then trustee-elect McKie made a motion to "implement" the committee. When the Chair asked for a second, Trustee Manning requested recognition. NOTE: The motion had not yet been seconded!

Manning proposed a change in name of the Committee. McKie agreed to the change. McFadden commented. Then McKie spoke without being recognized and tried to explain what Manning meant. WHAT? Lots of discussion, but the Motion still had not been seconded!

When Holmes asked again for a Second, Manning withdrew his request. Manning stated that the motion had been made and seconded, but it had not been seconded!

Then Holmes asked McKie to state the motion, so that the recording secretary would be clear on the motion. McKie restated the motion. Holmes said, "And Mr. Manning has already seconded that." But Manning had not seconded it.

There was more discussion. Trustee Agostini asked who would sit on the committee. Holmes said everyone on the board was invited to sit on the committee. Agostini asked about community involvement. Holmes said, "When we have a meeting here, there is always public participation." Then Holmes proceeded to lecture Trustee. (2:06:20) Agostini asked about the goals of the committee. Holmes interrupted Agostini more than once.

This whole discussion would be a Parliamentarian's nightmare!!! This is exactly what Holmes had just read in the Update on Executive Coaching. Fifteen minutes later it has all been forgotten.

Holmes said the committee would find out what the community would like. Listen to Holmes' snarky and demeaning manner toward Trustee Agostini. Agostini asked if the community would be invited into Executive Session to express their concerns. Holmes asked McKie to respond. BAD MOVE. Who put McKie in charge? This whole thing was a set-up. It was decided before the board ever got to this meeting. Obviously, Holmes, Manning and McKie knew what was going on. At this point Caution-Parker hasn't spoken up.

McKie proceeded with a class in Board Meetings 101 and mentioned that the public can be at any board meeting. Tell us something we don't know! 

Trustee McFadden had questions, and Holmes interrupted her. Notice on the screen that Dr. Cheryl. Caution. Parker. has her arms crossed over her chest and has turned her chair around to face away from McFadden and Holmes. Her body language is speaking SO LOUDLY (2:08:51). Holmes says to McFadden, "I'm trying to figure out what the ... (I was ready for "the word") what the hold-up (is)."

After more comments from Trustee McFadden, Holmes called on the superintendent. He said that typically the public won't be at meetings of the Committee of the Whole, but a "resident expert" might be invited in. 

When a question is asked of the superintendent, somebody should start a timer. After 2 minutes, ding-ding-ding. If you ask him what time it is, about 20 minutes later you will have heard how the sundial was invented, but you still won't know what time it is.

Trustee McFadden wants the community involved in planning how the community is going to solve the gun-violence problem. Based on the superintendent's explanation, the "community" will not be involved.

The superintendent further explained that the Committee of the Whole could decide to have the community involved and sponsor a forum, which is what Trustee McFadden wants. The purpose of the committee is to come back to the board with a report and not to take action. 

McFadden made a few more comments, and then Holmes lectured her further, repeating and repeating and repeating. (NOTE: Holmes had just a few minutes earlier read Liz Ethridge's Executive Coaching suggestion, "Say it one time." Just words. Just meaningless words. But say them over and over.

Trustee Scott (2:21:50) asked a question about the number of allotted meetings of board members. 

Then Manning was recognized, but he said by that time he had forgotten what he was going to talk about. But that didn't stop him. Then he remembered that he was going to say that they could meet more than 30 times but could get per diem (i.e., get paid) for more than 30 meetings. 

The vote to "implement" a committee was 7-0.

While the voting was in progress, McKie (2:26:20) was recognized by the Chair and made an extraneous and unnecessary comment. Trustee Agostini called a Point-of-Order. Without discussion the Chair allowed McKie to continue. That was WRONG. McKie's comment did not need to interrupt the voting and should have been held until after the voting result was announced. 

The next item was called at 2:27:15. WHEW! That took 26 minutes to cover a 2-minute approval. What nonsense!!!