Friday, May 6, 2022

Updated article about 4/28/2022 blow-up in The State

Be sure to read the updated article in today's edition of The State newspaper about the blow-up at the April 28, 2022 Special-Called Board Meeting.

Did you see the press release put out by the Media Relations Dept. of Richland Two after the negative newspaper article was published?

I didn't, either.

Appoint Special Counsel

The Richland 2 school board should appoint a Special Counsel to investigate the controversial events that took place at the closed session of the board during the Special-Called Board Meeting on April 28, 2022.

Word had started to leak out about the incident, and on May 5, 2002 The State newspaper published this article, updated today (May 6), which described Teresa Holmes' as having filed a report with the Richland County Sheriff's Department (RCSD) about threats made during what the District has called an executive session. Was it a "report" or was it a "complaint"?

The original article said Teresa reported that another board member got into it with a colleague on the board. That's three people involved; Teresa (reporting), one board member, and another board member (colleague).

Today's revised article, second paragraph, reads, "Chairwoman Teresa Holmes filed the report with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department after a special called meeting April 28, during which another board member reportedly cursed another member and threatened to 'beat her Mo....Fu.....A..,' according to the report." 

Is that still three people involved, or is Teresa the "victim" at whom the alleged threats were hurled?

If the reporter got most of his information yesterday from the RCSD report, how accurate was the report? I have filed a FOIA Request for the report, so that I can read it myself.

The updated article includes comments from some board members. It does not state at whom any threats were directed. What's the secret? 

Where is the statement from Richland 2 Media Relations? They were so quick to publish a statement defending the superintendent after the January 25th incident.

The District cannot be trusted to investigate itself. Certainly, employees of the District are not going to investigate board members. Since all board members were at that meeting, they cannot investigate themselves. The superintendent, who is employed by the board, is not going to investigate them.

The public should demand an independent outside investigation, regardless of any action taken by RCSD.

A Special Counsel should have been appointed at the end of January to investigate everything that took place on January 25, just before the board convened its regular meeting. Teresa Holmes refused to investigate what happened, passing the buck off to RCSD which, in only one day, decided that no crime had been committed.

Let's review the crimes that were committed on January 25. Disruption of schools? Disorderly conduct? Assault? A woman becomes disruptive in the meeting room, shouting loudly after a man (I) attempted to introduce himself. According to a 14-year-old student in the room, that same woman used profane language toward him twice. The superintendent, who is the husband of that woman, is alleged to have charged at a man who intervened as the woman was swearing at the student and was allegedly restrained by school district security officers and one or more board members.

Had an honest board of trustees carefully examined all the FACTS of that incident, they would have been forced to discipline the woman (a teacher in Richland 2) and the superintendent. And they would have ruled that the Trespass Notices delivered to Gary Ginn and me were unwarranted.

The public should show up at every board meeting and demand a public investigation of what occurred on April 28. The next board meeting is Tuesday, May 10, 2022.

Best Defense - A good offense?

Maybe, if it is "good". And if it's not?

Back in March 2019, shortly after I began addressing the school board about two illegitimate board members (Holmes and McKie), I sent an email to the entire board on a Wednesday, stating that if I was not informed by Friday that the two women would be legally sworn in before the following Tuesday's board meeting, then on that Friday I would file charges against them. That email was sent about 10:30AM.

By 1:00PM Teresa Holmes was at the sheriff's department to file a report that I was harassing her.

Why would she leave work in Blythewood and hot-foot it to 5623 Two Notch Road in Columbia?

The next day a RCSD sergeant called me from the Criminal Investigations Division. I answered my cell phone while I was in the backyard, cleaning up dog poop. As soon as he told me why he was calling, I knew I was not going to "give" him anything. I was fully aware of "You have the right to remain silent" and "Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law".

I was polite and listened to him, and then I thanked him for calling, telling him I was busy at home. When he said he wanted to get my side of the story, I said, "I'm sure you would."

I told him I wanted to read Teresa's report. I drove to RCSD. He met me at the front door and guided me up to the office of the Deputy Chief of Criminal Investigations. That might worry a lot of people. Me? No problem. I walked in and introduced myself.

I read the deputy's report. Then I told them they didn't have anything. Pointing to the first part, I said that was a lie. And the second. And the third, etc. Everything that the deputy had written was false. Where had he gotten his information? From Teresa Holmes. And the deputy had failed to get a written statement from Teresa.

And that was the end of it.

Now, I had the advantage of eight years' experience as a reserve deputy sheriff in Colorado. I've never gone to law school, but I was accepted twice at the University of Denver School of Law. A State Trooper in Colorado told me I knew the traffic laws better than most of his officers. I've worked with lawyers. I can read and understand the law. 

So, why did Teresa run down to RCSD to make a report after last Thursday's special-called board meeting? Did she go there, or did she make the report to a deputy at or near R2i2? Did she think she was culpable? Was yesterday's article in The State accurate? Was the RCSD deputy's report about the 4/28/22 confrontation accurate?

Were three people involved on April 28? Teresa Holmes, her colleague, and a "suspect"? Or only two? Did a board member comment on Teresa's ability to run a meeting? Is that what started it?

What caused the "action" on 4/28/2022?

What really happened in the private meeting of school board trustees on April 28?

First, it was an illegal executive session. To "have a meeting" is not a lawful reason to meet in closed session. Not even to "have a safety and security meeting".

Trustee-elect Amelia McKie's Motion was incorrectly worded. She failed to state the specific purpose for the executive session, and she failed to state the exclusion in the law that allows a public body to enter executive session.

Are there concerned citizen who will fund a legal move in court about that?

If a court declared the executive session as illegal, would that open all issues and discussions to public view?

What did happen behind closed doors? Who said what? To whom? In what tone of voice?

Teresa Holmes, as board chair (illegally, because she herself is not a legitimage board member (she has never taken the oath-of-office legally)) is known for cutting off discussions and interrupting other board members while they are speaking. Did she do that on April 28th?

The public has witnessed the chaos of open board meetings. You can review almost any of the past meetings and see the chaos for yourself. Usually, the other board members back down when Holmes is rude. Seeing how Holmes behaves in public, is it hard to imagine what might take place when the cameras are not recording?

Speaking of cameras, who grabbed her cell phone and began recording? Are recordings in executive sessions illegal? Or at least in violation of board policy?

I'm reminded of the 2015 incident at Sprng Valley High School, when Niya Kenny grabbed her cell phone in class and began recording a disturbance caused by a classmate. She was one of two students arrested for disrupting schools. That case fell apart, in part, because Sheriff Lott fired the SRO too quickly. The charge against Kenny is no longer in the public record; she must have had it expunged.

Should all parties involved in the April 28 incident be subjected to equal handling under the law?