Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Take gun to school = real stupidity

WLTX.com (News 19) reported today that a 15-year-old at Blythewood High School had a gun at school. 

How absolutely stupid.

What's wrong with kids these days?

The Principal should recommend expulsion.

The Superintendent should approve it.

The Board should meet for two minutes and approve it.

No excuses. No explanation. Zero tolerance. Assuming the student is male, out he goes on his backside.

Charge him as an adult and release his name and photo. 

Source: www.wltx.com/article/news/crime/15-year-old-charged-with-bringing-gun-marijuana-to-school-south-carolina/101-d94112a4-bbe3-4029-b224-e6e7fda7a4d2

Great job, Trustees

The Trustees of Richland School District Two are doing a great job. They have hit the ground running.

They are actually doing something. Yes, there is a learning curve. Yes, some of them are catching up on parliamentary procedures. Yes, some of them don't have a corporate background or a financial background. But they are working hard and they are working together.

They are putting in many hours on behalf of the students, staff, teachers, and the public. And they aren't complaining. They aren't running off to WIS-TV or The State newespaper.

Note the unanimous decision to accept Baron Davis' resignation.

Will the public accept that it was a true resignation? Davis doesn't strike me as a guy who would get forced to do anything. Was his resignation negotiated? If so, why not? 

Some have written on Facebook about "discrimination" and "forced resignation". Where could the discrimination come from? Do those wags mean "racial discrimination"? Do they realize that five of the trustees are black?

This board (the one since Nov. 21, 2022) is color-blind; i.e., they are not making decisions based on race or color. They made a business decision to accept Davis' resignation. 

So, why did he resign? Did they ask him if he would follow the directions of the board? What was his answer? 

The terms of his resignation are not yet public. We'll probably all be surprised at the terms. How much will he be paid for leaving that board meeting unemployed? Somewhere between pay to the end of the school year (6½ months) and $1,180,000.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Duties of an Interim Superintendent

What does an Interim Superintendent do?

It's a temporary position. Very temporary.

Nancy Gregory is the INTERIM Supt. She's not there to do anything but turn the lights on and off and try to keep RSD2 from running further off the rails, until the Board can hire a new full-time Supt. 

Does she have the skill set to run a business with $1 Billion in Assets and a $300,000,000 annual budget? 

Didn't Baron Davis create any management depth to the Administration? Every major position should have a back-up ready to go, in the event of a resignation, firing, retirement, disability, or death. 

In his side-gig, The Noegenesis Group, wouldn't he train businesses to do that? Did he do it in the business that paid him more than $240,000, while he maintained several outside income streams?

His 2022 Statement of Economic Interests, available at ethics.sc.gov, discloses his $241,191 income from Richland 2 in 2021, plus his $18,000 car allowance. The value of perks, such as life, health and disability insurance, expense account, and retirement plan contributions, are not disclosed. And it reveals his side jobs:

The Noegenesis Group (his own private consulting business), which 14 months ago could be found at www.noegenesisgroup.com;

University of the Cumberlands;

University of South Carolina ($14,000).

Friday, January 20, 2023

Your Opinion, please

How would you like to show up at orientation for your administrative job at Richland 2 and have to sit through this video?

The description on YouTube is "Short film for the African American Policy Forum, showing metaphors for obstacles to equality which affirmative action tries to alleviate."

If my employer started that video and expected me to sit through without comment, he'd be sorely disappointed. I'd try to be polite on my way out the door to find a new job, but I suspect I might miss the mark.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Baron - still Supt.? see website

In most businesses, when the top dog goes out the door, the business immediately says so. One problem for District 2 is there is now no top dog.

The Deputy Superintendent ought to be in-charge, at least temporarily. There should be an automatic succession policy. Is there?

The District could take down the superintendent's Welcome and his About page and replace them with factual information about his "resignation". And file all his photos elsewhere.

There's a new guy in charge of Media Relations, and he could craft the announcement and put it out.

But anyone looking at the website today will think that Baron is still the superintendent.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Virginia School Board - 3-hr. Public Participation

Read this article about the 1st-Grader who shot his teacher in Virginia.

Read what the teachers said.

How much of that is going on right here in Richland 2?


Special-Called Board Meeting, Th., Jan. 19

The starting time for the special-called meeting is announced as 5:20PM EST. The meeting will be broadcast at   https://livestream.com/richland2/events/10746230

The agenda has not yet been published but will be by 5:20PM EST today.

My guess is that the board will appoint an Acting Superintendent.

[Edited 1/18/2023 5:13PM]

The agenda provides the purpose of the Executive Session: "Receipt of Legal Advice Regarding Acting/Interim Superintendent".

Let's hope the motion can be made clearly, correctly and briefly, "I move that we enter Executive Session for the purpose of receiving legal advice regarding an Acting/Interim superintendent."

How big will the technical problem be, if they do more than "receive" legal advice? What if they discuss structuring and offering a position? The lawyer won't tell them whom to appoint as Acting/Interim Superintendent, how to conduct a search for the successor to Baron Davis, and all those details. Does all that fit neatly under "receiving legal advice" or is the Board entering a minefield by limiting the purpose of the Executive Session?

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

IG Report Committee Meeting 1/18/2023

The Special Committee on the I.G.'s Report is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, January 17, 2023, at 6:00PM. 

The announcement, which appeared only on the school board agenda webpage, fails to announce the location - a FOIA requirement.

Members of the Special Committee are Richland 2 board members Tamika Washington (committee chair), Niki Porter and Joe Trapp.

Too bad that the Committee meeting will not be livestreamed. The public is more than interested. I wonder if the committee tried to get it livestreamed.

The public is reminded that you can record the meeting; it is a meeting of a committee of a public body. You could even publish it on Facebook LIVE, if you want to.

[Updated 1/18/2023, 12:06PM]

1/17/2023 Opening

Opening of this afternoon's board meeting?


Give the Chair a big whip!

At 10:15PM the Executive Session is still in progress. There are 265 viewers who are hanging on, waiting to hear nothing when the meeting is over. 

How many people are there in person?

Board is Correct to Understand Supt. Contract

Another school board meeting will be held for the purpose of receiving legal advice regarding the superintendent's contract. That meeting is this afternoon, Jan. 17, at 4:30PM.

And why not?

Is there some reason that the Board should not understand his multi-year contract? It represents a $1,000,000 obligation of the District - three-and-one-half  years of employment (School Years 2022-2023, 2023-2024, 2024-2025, 2025-2026) plus a severance package of 18 months' pay.

What company with $1 Billion in Assets and a $300,000,000+ Annual Budget would not want its board to understand the contract with its CEO or keyman?

Former board member and former chair James Manning waved a red flag at media earlier this month, when he surmised that the board was about to fire Baron Davis.

Now Hamilton R. Grant used yesterday's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration to defend Davis. See his post on Facebook on January 16.

Grant was "with" Terrance Cummings and Chris Leevy Johnson on Facebook when he published a long post linking Dr. King and Davis. Grant referred to Davis as "stellar", "nationally awarded", "beloved, homegrown and proven exemplary leader". Grant also wrote, "Davis has earned the respect of educators and academicians across the world." 

Come on, man.

Grant asked, "... is a stellar leader as Davis next on the preverbal [sic] chopping block?"

What is a "preverbal" chopping block?

It is the Board's right and duty to understand Davis' contract. 

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Jan. 17th Special Called Meeting - 4:30PM

Sugestions to Board Members,

At the beginning of the meeting, tell any of the public gathered that this is a Special-Called meeting and there won't be any public statement after the executive session. They are welcome to wait, but they should not expect a statement.

Set a deadline of 6:00PM for adjourning.

Show up with your written questions on 3x5 cards. Write your initials on the cards.

Appoint a time-keeper.

In Executive Session, take the first five minutes to group your questions and tape them to the wall.

Give the attorney 5-10 minutes (or less).

Then ask your questions. Limit the attorney to 60 seconds. 

Wind up at 5:45PM and determine the next steps.

At 6:00PM (or earlier), return to open session, move to adjourn, and go home.

Meal Plan Discussion

The Meal Plan got a lot of discussion at the school board meeting on January 10, 2023. The discussion starts at 4:53:26 on  https://livestream.com/richland2/events/10733970/videos/234531948

Every parent and every taxpayer should watch this discussion.

There are three levels of payers for meals. There are Free Meals. There are Reduced-Price Meals. There are Full-Pay Meals.

If the student does not qualify for Free Meals or Reduced-Price Meals, then he (she) pays for his meals. Or he should.

Except now he (she) doesn't, because there is a Moratorium on charging for meals.

How did that happen? How could that happen? Did the prior school board authorize that? Did it have the right, the authority, the power to give free meals to those who are supposed to be paying for them?

Listen carefully to Supt. Davis' comments about the Moratorium. Somebody should try to figure out what he really said. He uses the "royal We" when referring to who decided.

WHO DECIDED ON THE MORATORIUM, which has caused the debt to increase from $70,000 to OVER $340,000 and to be headed for $500,000?

If you want to know, watch the presentation. And then ask specific questions that cannot be answered with "We ...". Who? the past board? The Superintendent?

Friday, January 13, 2023

Special-Calling Board Meeting - Jan. 17

The school board has scheduled a Special-Called Meeting for Tuesday, January 17, 2022, 4:30PM.

Are you kidding me?

After the marathon on January 10 and the executive session about the superintendent's contract, now the board is going to have yet another meeting that will entirely be an executive session, for the purpose of "Receipt of Legal Advice Regarding Superintendent Contract".

What part of his contract is the board unable to understand? They've all got a copy. 

The contract IS the Contract. What can they expect to learn beyond the legal advice that they must have already received?

The Contract doesn't tell the superintendent how to run the District. It tells him that he is to run it.

If the board doesn't like how he is running it (Meal Plan, safety plan, this plan or that plan), they aren't going to get any from "legal" on that. 

The superintendent runs the district. The Trustees direct the superintendent. 

Set performance standards for the superintendent. SMART ones. You know, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Based.

For example, how much time was wasted on the Meal Plan item last week? All they needed to do was tell the superintendent, "No more free meals to those who should be paying for them. Collect from all those who owe Richland 2 money for past meals. We are not a bank." PERIOD. And then hold him accountable for doing so. He will either follow orders or he won't.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Sign up? Show up!

If you sign up to speak during Public Participation, then show up.

Whose brainchild was the electronic advance registration system? Did that person anticipate no-shows? How many times have speakers failed to approach the the microphones after their names were called?

Should registered speakers have to "check in" upon arrival? Can you still register in-person before 6:15PM?

If you change your mind, notify the Assistant to the Board, Christine Lewis, at chrislewis@richland2.org

Cancellation is a common courtesy to the board and to the public.

5:46:00 Trainwreck

The Livestream recording of last night's board meeting was 5:46:00; that's FIVE hours 46 minutes from  the beginning of the executive session to adjournment.

Subtract one hour (5:30-6:30pm), and the board went at it for four hours 46 minutes - about three hours longer than they should have.

I bailed the first time at about 6:55PM, after the super-long Inspirational "Moment". (How long is a "moment"?)

When the Minutes are incorrect, you don't approve them with known errors. You pull the Minutes from the Consent Agenda, approve the remainder of the Consent Agenda, move to correct them, and then approve them. 

Somebody made a motion "to move..." or moved to make a motion. Please! Looks like the written version of the Minutes was cleaned up, because I couldn't spot that this morning. But it's in the recording.

I returned later for the public participation. The "I Love Baron" group was certainly there. The woman who bashed Lashonda should have been interrupted and admonished. Board Policy BEDH is clear; it prohibits "any expression of personal complaints about individual school personnel or any other person connected with the school system." Lashonda is clearly a protected person.

That woman was careful to avoid reference to Teresa Holmes' taunting and baiting of Lashonda and the continual disrespect Holmes had demonstrated toward Lashonda for months. Teresa and she must be friends.

Board members must learn Robert's Rules of Order. When a Motion is under discussion, board member comments must be germane to the Motion. Bringing up the kitchen sink was out-of-order and should have been stopped.

The Public is clamoring for the board to "take action" and act on their campaign promises. The board must resist that pressure and conduct the business before them.

If meetings continue like last night's, the I.G. will probably investigate further!

Was there something about a committee of the board (three members) trying to agree on planning future agendas with the superintendent? Remember when a committee was formed to design a horse? What did they end up with?

Friday, January 6, 2023

"Work Expands To Fill the Time Allotted"

 You've heard that time-proven statement; right?

The school board proved it again last night.

The board went into Executive Session at 5:46PM and re-convened in open, public session at 9:23PM. Last night's recording (Livestream) was 4:03:08. That's OVER four hours. 

To all those who showed up expecting the board to fire the superintendent. Tough luck. You shouldn't have fallen for Manning's trick when he threw bloody meat into the water for all you sharks.

Nor should you have fallen for Chris Leevy Johnson bait. 

Be sure to thank them for wasting your Thursday evening.

Good thing that Joe Trapp moved to pull "board superintendent relations" from the Executive Committee agenda. Otherwise, you'll still be sitting there.

The board should establish not only a starting time for meetings (and then start on time), but it should decide on an Ending Time.

Set a meeting length of 90 minutes and work against a Countdown Timer. When people get long-winded and repetitive, cut 'em off.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Leevy Johnson and Manning - both wrong.

Yesterday Chris Leevy Johnson, preacher at Brookland Baptist Church Northeast and Baron Davis' preacher, posted this while at R2i2:

"There is a Special Call [sic] Meeting this Thursday at Richland County School District Two (no time has been posted yet) Please spread the word and we need the community to come out to support Dr. Davis and remind the board of the phenomenal job he is doing!"

What Johnson fails to realize is that it doesn't matter one whit whether his tribe shows up to cheer for the superintendent tomorrow night. All they'll get to do is sit on their hands and observe. If they cheer or clap when Davis' name is mentioned, they'll be escorted out of the meeting.

The chair may need to caution the audience to keep quiet, or a board member may need to make a motion for order in the peanut gallery.

Today, about 1:30PM, former board chair James Manning posted this comment to Johnson's message. (Manning has two Facebook pages. The one with 183 Friends shows that he "works at Richland School District Two". Seriously?)

"Don’t let the board make decisions in a vacuum. Show up to ensure they have to look you in the face when making decisions. There is a good chance they will fire the superintendent at this meeting. [emphasis added.] This is based on previous examples of school districts having done this same thing post elections. They want a weak leader who will do their bidding. Not be a true leader."

Read it again. And then again.

The board is not going to care who is sitting in the audience.. It will make decisions based on information and facts, not on glares and stares from Baron's buddies.

Will they fire Baron Davis tomorrow night? Not a chance. There are 360,000 reasons that will not happen tomorrow night. That's the really sweet severance package that Manning and his cohorts in the board majority gave Baron Davis when they renewed his contract (was it in 2021?).

What the board may do is remind Baron that he is am employee of the District. If he does his job well, he'll keep his job. 

The board wants, and will insist on, a strong leader. Remember - Baron is the guy who was running the District when the Inspector General investigated. If Baron had been doing a "phenomenal" job, there wouldn't have been any I.G. investigation.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Chris. 

Baron is going to find out that he is accountable to the board. He no longer will be allowed to control the board. Those days ended on November 21.

The board tells Baron what to do. His job is to do it. He plays a high-risk game to defy the board. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Special-Called Board Meeting - (this) Thursday, Jan. 5

The Richland 2 school board has announced a Special-Called Meeting for (this) Thursday, Jan. 5, at 5:30PM at R2i2.

Two items will be discussed in Executive Session: 1) the superintendent's contract and 2) superintendent board relations.

Of course, "in Executive Session" means you won't hear the good stuff.

After the Executive Session ends and the board re-convenes in open session, the board will vote on action to be taken, if any.

The board will then discuss the Inspector General's Report. This should be more than interesting.

The I.G. was critical of the (past) board, but many of the issues involved matters that the board either didn't know about or chose to keep quiet about. The only way that the board could have known about problems was if the superintendent had informed them.

The new board should be grilling the superintendent about the extent to which, if any, he informed any members of the then-majority on the board about the problems. 

Board Chair Lindsay Agostini should appoint a special committee to dig into the I.G.'s Report. Not more than two board members, plus members of the public, staff, teachers. The I.G.'s Report shouldn't consume all the time of the board, but it shouldn't get just left-overs.

Next board meeting Dec. 13, 2022 (oh, wait)

If you look at the Richland 2 homepage, you'll see that the next school board meeting is December 13, 2022. Seriously?

Obviously, that's wrong. The next Regular board meeting will be on January 10th, but you have to know where to look to find the date.

Why wasn't the December 13th meeting announcement removed on December 14?

Libby Roof left in November. Greg Turchetta doesn't start until January 9. Did Libby take the keys with her? Not likely.

Wasn't anyone in the media relations department cross-trained? There is no way that Libby would have been the one to update a routine meeting announcement on the website. That could be assigned way down the food chain.

Maybe no one gave the order to update the homepage. Maybe no one was brave enough to take the initiative and just do it. 

What happens to an employee who sticks her neck up out the foxhole and takes the initiative?

Does the superintendent ever look at the website? Didn't he notice that, with ever passing day, the information was further out-of-date?