Thursday, June 30, 2022

Spot-on Article by Retired Education

Here is an article not to be missed. This was sent to me today by a reader, who had found it in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The author is AJ-C guest columnist Jim Arnold, an educator of 48 years' experience. His career track was teacher, assistant principal, principal and then superintendent.  He is now an adjunct professor at Columbus (Georgia) State University.

He hits the nail squarely on the head when identifying today's problems in education and why teachers have been fleeing for years. 

How does this sound to you? Familiar?

From his opinion piece in the newspaper: "Over time, the beliefs that 'all children can learn' and 'all children can succeed' translated into “'all children will succeed at high levels.' ” 

He puts "equity" right where it belongs - in the dumpster.

But what do we have here in Richland 2?

Be sure to take the time to read and digest this article. If you aren't an AJ-C subscriber, pay the 99¢ for six months and become one. It's a real newspaper.

Many thanks to the reader who sent this to me.

Wrong to hide legal information in executive session

At the last school board meeting of the 2021-2022 school year, on June 28, 2022, one of the items on the agenda for the executive session was "receipt of legal advice regarding hiring legal counsel." 

After the board re-convened at 6:30PM, Item 6.2 on the public session agenda was "Receipt of Legal Advice Regarding Hiring Legal Counsel."

Watch and listen to the discussion on
It begins at 1:22:35.

Background: Due to the chaos of the past year of the Richland 2 School Board, under the leadership of then-board chair Teresa Holmes, the S.C. state legislature pass Senate Bill 202. Gov. Henry McMaster signed it on June 17, 2022, and the new law became effective that day. On June 22, 2022 Gov. McMaster directed the State Inspector General to investigate Richland Two.

The District must anticipated the need for legal representation. It could use existing legal counsel. Note - it would not be able to use its existing attorney regarding the January 25, 2022 incident with Pamela Davis and Baron Davis, because the attorney was in the boardroom and would have witnessed the incident. But nothing ever came of that, because then-Chair (Holmes) would not open an investigation  into the behavior of the two Davises.

When it was time for Item 6.2, McKie's moved to retain The Wyche Law Firm and to approve a "special deviation" from the hourly rate.

Trustee Scott stated that the board was being offered the name of only one law firm and they had received the legal information only about 30 minutes prior.

FIRST ISSUE - What was the delay in getting the information to the board? The agenda is required to be published at least 24 hours before 5:30PM on the day before the board meeting. Usually the agenda is published on the Thursday or Friday before the Tuesday board meeting. She stated that she did not have the proper opportunity to read the information. She also questioned that the board was not being offered names of 2-3 law firms for comparison. She also made a reference to the higher cost quoted by "this firm" (The Wyche Law Firm).

Trustee McFadden agreed with Trustee Scott and also stated that "we" had received "this  information" only 30 minutes before. She expressed questions about whether the were other law firms that could have been considered and got no answers. Teresa merely listened to her and moved on. McFadden asked if everyone else received the legal information before the (executive session). 

Trustee Agostini was almost ignored by Holmes, but she was recognized for discussion. She asked why the in-house attorney was not being used and what the need was to hire outside counsel. Holmes responded that was in executive session. Holmes talked over Agostini. Agostini said, "Point of Order. I am asking the question." 

Holmes ignored the Magic Words - "Point of Order."

Agostini asked for the District's attorney, Ms. Mahoney, to answer the question and looked toward the audience. Holmes again refused, stating it was covered in executive session. Teresa said, "I am making the ruling." 

The Trustee Agostini asked whom the new attorney will represent. Teresa once again hid behind the "executive session" shield of confidentiality. Teresa said that public session is not the time to ask questions. 

Agostini stated her disappointment that she was not being allowed to ask whom the attorney will represent, whether the attorney will represent the school board, whether the attorney will be allowed to speak with individual board members (she had been told before that the attorney cannot), and the insufficient time to consider the matter.

How can the attorney represent a school board member, if the attorney cannot talk to a school board member???

Does this mean the new attorney cannot talk to Holmes? Manning? With whom  can they speak? Supt. Davis? Karla Hawkins (in-house counsel)? Kathryn Mahoney (outside counsel)?

Trustee McFadden asked for a delay and calling a special board meeting after they have had time to review the legal recommendation.

Holmes stated there was a motion on the floor and, if that motion failed, then McFadden could make a secondary motion. (1:29:45)  Holmes was WRONG! Why didn't the Superintendent or Manning correct Holmes?

Because they knew that four board members were going to approve the primary motion and then no further motion would fly.

McFadden tried to comment further, and Holmes shut her down, repeatedly saying she had already called for the vote. Listen to Holmes' tone of voice, as she speaks to McFadden. 

The vote was 4-3. Of course.