Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Change for the sake of change?

Why is the Richland 2 school board consumed with making so many policy changes?

Many on the board are learning about board policies, some for the first time. Four on the board took office in mid-November. This is only the end of February - three full months, including the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

I am reminded of the Federal government, where incoming presidents go nuts unwinding what their predecessor spent four years putting together. "Let's rip it up and make our own." Sound familiar?

There is a new Board Policy BBBD in the wind, thanks to that almighty SCSBA - South Carolina School Boards Association. There is NO NEED for such a policy, which would reflect the Governor's authority to remove a board member.

If the Governor proposes removal of a school board member, of what value would a Board Policy BBBD be? If the Governor is going to attempt to do that, no school board policy is going to stand in his way. 

I bailed out the first time when the revision to Board Policy BEDGA came up. I don't know how long it took, but the start indicated a lengthy, time-consuming discussion. I hope I was wrong.

According to the livestream timer, they finished tonight about 9:00PM. Maybe they'll aim for 8:30PM for the March 14th board meeting and aim for 8:00PM for the March 28th board meeting.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Baron Davis' website is back, including errors

In 2022 I tried to find Baron Davis' website for his private consulting business. It was nowhere to be seen. I had first written about his private consulting business on November 8, 2021.

Now it's back. According to the website, Davis formed The Noegenesis Group in 2018. He reported its existence on his Ethics Commission Statement of Economic Interests Report, as he was required to do. He was not required to disclose the amount of income earned from the Group.

I was amused to see Noegenesis spelled in different ways on his own website.

Its URL is www.thenoegenesisgroup.com

On the homepage in large capital letters is the name of his business:


Further down the homepage the business is spelled "Noegenesis".

Also on the homepage is this sentence: "Founded and established in 2018, The Noegenesis Group is a solutions-focused and outcomes-driven Think Tank who's [sic] philosophical orientation of support is rooted in the belief that we are at all times working toward self-actualization and continuous improvement." [emphasis added]

But was it "founded and established" in 2018? The S.C. Secretary of State records reveal that it was incorporated as a LLC on December 5, 2013. 

Have those errors been there for years? Why didn't someone, anyone, call his attention to those errors?

Open Letter to TheState.com's Reporter

On January 30, The State newspaper re-hashed old news about Richland 2. I'd like to be able to say that the reporter got it right. I'd like to, but I can't.

Here is my letter to reporter Morgan Hughes (email: mhughes@thestate.com)

Good afternoon, Morgan,

I have been attending Richland 2 board meetings since February 2018 (immediately post-Parkland, Fla. shootings) and have been writing a blog (www.Richland2.info) since March 2019. I felt the board had legitimacy problems that it was not addressing. 

"In just the past year, police have had to escort people out of board meetings," is not correct, nor is "On at least one occasion, police escorted members of the public out of a meeting." In the first, you wrote "meetings" - plural; in the second, you wrote "members" - plural. There was only one meeting (1/25/2022). I was not escorted out by police. Two security officers followed me out, after I asked them whether they were going to walk out with me. Otherwise, I could have just headed out by myself.

I heard that a deputy did accompany Gary Ginn to the exit, but I had already departed by the time Superintendent Davis reportedly went after Ginn.

Supt. Davis and Mrs. Davis were the ones who should have been escorted out for causing the disruption. You can guess why they were not.

You missed the whole point of the walk-out by Trustees Agostini, Scott, and McFadden in September 2021. The Chair (Holmes) and the superintendent had failed to provide the revisions to the superintendent's contract to the three in a timely manner. Agostini and Scott departed, but a quorum still remained. Then Chair Holmes was rude and condescending to McFadden, and she walked out, leaving the board without a quorum. Holmes continued business, until Davis finally stopped her.

I believe you don't understand this. "During a meeting soon after, in October 2021, then-Board Chair Teresa Holmes and Scott got into a shouting match over comments made by a member of the public." Holmes continually demanded that public speakers not mention "names". Nothing in Board Policy prevents a public speaker from mentioning the name of a District employee or board member. Holmes refused to understand and properly apply Board Policy BEDH, which prohibits "expression of personal complaints" about anyone associated with the District. Holmes even prevented one speaker from complimenting the principal and staff at Round Top Elementary School.

You wrote, "Almost exactly a year ago, in Jan. 2022, police got involved at a school board meeting when a district parent had a “verbal disagreement” with Davis’ wife, a Richland 2 teacher. Davis intervened, getting into his own argument with two members of the public before district security escorted the two people from the building."

There were two separate incidents. One involved the superintendent's wife, Pamela Davis, shouting at me after I politely introduced myself. What I said was, "Hello, I'm Gus Philpott." What she shouted was, "I KNOW WHO YOU ARE! DON'T TALK TO ME! STAY AWAY FROM ME!"

I was told of the second incident, which occurred after I had left the building. Mrs. Davis cussed out a 14-year-student, Ethan Lopez. (I don't say "allegedly", because the student told me the words she used.) Gary Ginn intervened and told her she could not talk to a minor and student that way. That's when the supt. charged over toward Ginn and had to be restrained by District security and board members. 

Supt. Davis did not speak to me that evening. At all!!! Nor did the District Security Director explain why he was kicking me out.

Funny how the media has not reported that accurately!

Did you listen to Manning's recording of the executive session? Did you hear Holmes' demeaning, condescending, rude, taunting, teasing remarks toward Trustee McFadden? You soft-soaped that.

Board member Scott didn't go by ("went by") another name. Elkins-Johnson was her name, before she married Mr. Scott. You make it sound like she was improperly "using" a different name.

The "conflict entrepreneurs" mentioned in the IG's Report were not Agostini, Scott and McFadden.

There is no "faction" on the board that wanted to "revisit Davis' employment". The full, legitimate board did so, and ALL SEVEN (7) board members voted to accept Davis' resignation. 

Former board member James Manning is 100% wrong to tell you that this board wants a weak leader. 

You wrote, "Manning was specifically named in the report as well for recording an executive session discussion and sharing it with media." What you failed to report was that Manning violated Board Policy BEC by so recording. That Policy reads, in part, "Board members or any other persons attending will not use tape recorders or any other means of sonic or video reproduction to record executive sessions." That is a serious violation of Board policy, but the board never sanctioned or disciplined Manning. He was on the board for many years and was Vice Chair at the time. He knew the policies. Ask him why he violated that policy.

I suggest you do some investigative reporting about P-card usage and identify who bought $873 worth of clothing at Lululemon and other P-card purchases.

Also, you should get the complete story on the McFadden childrens' meal debt. I believe she stated at a recent board meeting that she didn't even know about the increasing debt until it hit $2,000. As superintendent, Davis was ultimately responsible for administering the meal plan. 

The new board is facing a steep learning curve. They are all nice people, but with mostly without executive experience in governing a huge business entity. Richland School District Two is a business with $1 Billion in assets and a $300,000,000+ annual budget. That's why there must be a strong leader (superintendent), not a weak one.

If you ever want the truth about what has been going on at Richland 2, please contact me. Yes, I have my biases, and I'll tell you the truth.

Gus Philpott

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Circuit Court - Terrible (and wrong) Decision

Remember the 2015 incident in a classroom at Spring Valley High School. Yeah; that one.

The one where a "child" got into it with Deputy Ben Fields. Niya Kenny grabbed her phone and said some untrue things about Deputy Fields as he put the other girl on the floor. Had Kenny begun recording sooner, the public likely would have felt differently about the situation. 

Media failed to report the whole incident. Sort of like, later, when Sgt. Pentland got into it with a young black man in The Summit. I heard there were other videos in circulation about the Spring Valley incident. They were not favorable to the disruptive student. 

The incident prompted my first "nastygram" to Sheriff Lott. I believed he had fired Fields too quickly. I still believe that. I emailed him that there was no way he could have given Fields a full, fair, impartial investigation in only two days before he fired Fields.

I fully understood the racial aspects of the incident. But he threw Fields under the bus too quickly. And one of the reasons that the two girls were not prosecuted in Columbia was that Fields had been fired too quickly.

Soon after that, I talked with the son of a friend in another state about that incident. I had felt it was mishandled in the school. The son, who is a SRO, told me that the first thing that should have happened, after the Assistant Principal arrived, was that the teacher should have removed all the other students from the classroom. That would have removed the "audience" and been a good first-step in de-escalation.

The Assistant Principal should have then been able to get the minor student to leave the classroom and go to the office. If that failed, then you get the SRO.

Now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, in Richmond, Va., has ruled in an appeal, saying in part, “The disorderly conduct law fails to give South Carolina’s schoolchildren fair warning about what it prohibits and vests practically unfettered discretion in those charged with its enforcement.”

Can you believe that hogwash? Just imagine the disruption that will continue to occur after a decision like that!

Read more about it here.

Richland 2 Meal Plan Debt

Don't miss the article in the Post and Courier about Richland 2's meal plan debt! Reporter Ian Grenier nails it.

65% owe less than $25? I seriously doubt that. If that is true, just wipe it off the books and forget it. You don't pay somebody $100,000/year to collect $25.

90% owe less than $100? I doubt this, too.

Put up a sign in the lunch rooms. 
"NO MORE FREE (or Reduced Price) FOOD (unless you qualify)"

I wonder what a spreadsheet would look like, prioritized by each child's debt, after throwing out the Free Meal Plan kiddies. The kids owing the most are probably the ones with Air Jordans, the BMWs, the iPhones, etc. My guess, anyway.

Don't forget under whose administration this debt went out of control. Baron Davis was the superintendent. And you know who was on the board. Was that one of the reasons he "resigned"?

Why didn't Davis tell the board about the problem and propose a solution? He was in charge of finding a solution, not the board.

The District ought to subtract that $547,861 meal plan debt from Baron's $615,000 settlement. How would that be for "equity"?

Friday, February 24, 2023

UNC-Chapel Hill : no mo' woke

Check out this FoxNews article on the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

University of North Carolina moves to ban ‘diversity, equity and inclusion’ statements in anti-woke backlash

Ah, if only Richland 2 would follow suit.

Read the article here.

Whew!!! $615,000 to Baron Davis!!!

I spotted the termination agreement between Baron Davis and Richland 2 on Facebook, before I saw that the District had emailed its FOIA response to me at 4:06PM today.

What did it cost Richland 2 to "accept" Davis' resignation? $615,000.

$415,518.68, less normal payroll deductions; plus
$124,481.32 for 97.75 days of unused sick leave and 22 vacation days, less normal payroll deductions; plus
$  75,000.00 to settle all disputed claims. 

That's about one-half of what he could have gotten, had he held out for 100% of his contract. It was a great deal for him. A $615,000 payday and no fight about it.

Is there any doubt that the bottom drawer of his desk at home was filled with job offers? 

Now Richland 2 has to deal with the mess from the S.C. Inspector General's Report.

Remember, that Report was generated for the time that Davis was Superintendent and that the Board was dominated by four trustees who are no longer there. 

The new board has to deal with the fall-out of that Report and the costs associated with the clean-up.
Read the termination agreement. How many hours were required to negotiate, write and execute that Agreement? What did that cost Richland 2? Did they pay the whole freight or did Davis, since he "resigned", pay for it?

Dangerous? Demented?

 Am I a dangerous and demented individual?

Remember that school board meeting when I complained about too many SROs at school board meetings and too much money being wasted hiring deputies to be at school board meetings.

I think I also said that, if I saw anyone attempting to threaten or harm any member of the school board, I'd be right there to protect them - any of them!

There has not been even one Richland 2 school board meeting where trustees have had any reason to be concerned about their safety.

There was one (February 8, 2022), when school board members should have been concerned for the safety of the public - the audience. Remember that one? Remember the threats made toward the white men in the audience and toward me, even though I was not in the audience?

How did the board handle that? Not a peep out of any of them. No interruption of the speaker by the Board Chair (Holmes) or by then-Supt. Davis or by Security or by RCSD. Holmes even thanked the speaker at the end of his three-minute rant.

If you've forgotten that (or don't know about it), go to the February 8, 2022 school board meeting here and advance the timer to 1:46:03

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Black History Month - more important than I.G.'s Report?

Is Black History Month more important in Richland 2 than the Inspector General's Report?

Based on use of livestream.com by Richland 2, I say it is.

Last Tuesday there was an important meeting of a school board committee on the I.G.'s Report. Livestreaming of it had been requested. And not approved. So, if you weren't there, you don't know what happened.

But Black History Month's celebration is to be broadcast on Livestream by Richland 2. 

Re Black History Month, I encourage you to watch this PragerU video, featuring Pastor Dumisani Washington. The title of this video is "How Twisting History Has Hurt Young Black Men".

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

I.G. Report Committee Meeting - Today, 6:00PM

Why isn't this February 21st committee meeting being livestreamed?

Many community members are interested in the work of this committee. How simple it would be to livestream it, so that the community could either view it live or watch the recording at their own convenience?

Perhaps at the next board meeting someone on the committee will explain to the public why it wasn't livestreamed.

If you haven't read the Report yet, or wish to read it again, click here: 


Wednesday, February 15, 2023

At every school?

As I arrived at R2i2 last night for the school board meeting, three small flags greeted me. Are these at every school in the Richland 2 school district?

Were they placed with permission? Who paid for them?

I wondered whether there is a Board Policy or Administrative Rule (AR) about such displays. 

Frankly, I've wondered how Black History Month ever got its start - and why. History should include information about the successes and failures of men and women, regardless of color. Why is there an entire month to focus just on black history?

What if there is a Board Policy or AR at Richland 2 that prohibits such flags or other displays? Of what is "Black History Month" a symbol? Is this about color or race? Does a month for black history increase or decrease the racial divide in the United States?

Is there a White History Month? Brown History Month? Red History Month? Yellow History Month?

Comments, anyone?

In their closing comments last night, several board members mentioned Black History Month. You can listen to their comments near the end of the recording of the meeting.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

The Voice Covers Jan. 19th

There is an interesting article about me in this week's The Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County that I recommend to your reading. Just click on the title of the article "Restraining Order Ruled for Philpott".

As you read the article, ask yourself a few questions:

Can a defendant in Magistrate's Court get a fair trial if he can't hear what is being said?

If the Magistrate knows that the defendant cannot hear, should he pause the hearing until a court clerk or deputy can fetch a hearing-assistance device (which is available in the court building)?

If a person who is testifying swears to tell the truth, should only the truth be spoken?

I considered filing a Motion for Mistrial, but it had to be filed within five days, and I didn't get the recording of the hearing (and learn what was said against me until the fourth day). Such a Motion probably would have cost me $5,000 in legal fees to file.

An appeal of the finding by Magistrate Byrd was estimated by an attorney to cost me $10,-15,000, and it had to be filed in the Circuit Court within ten days.

Those estimates reinforced my belief about "justice" in the U.S.A. You can get just about all the justice that you can afford. I knew I hadn't done the things of which I was accused, and I knew I wouldn't do any of the things prohibited by the Restraining Order. 

Please comment on the article here and at the end of the article on www.blythewoodonline.com.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Favorite Caps

This is one of my favorite caps. I don't wear it often enough, but I think it's time to dust it off and wear it. After all, who could not want to Make America Great Again?

It's time to take action, folks, before that guy in The White House pushes this country past the point of no return. Biden and the Left are trying to destroy the U.S.A.

Our schools should be the front line to teaching students how to think, not what to think.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Fiscal Watch for R2?

Will the S.C. Department of Education place Richland 2 on "Fiscal Watch" for missing the December 1, 2022 filing deadline to submit its annual audit by more than two months?

Harry Miley, R2's chief financial officer, told media last week they were late because of diverting time and attention to the State Inspector General's investigation.

Didn't Miley tell then-supt. Baron Davis in the Fall that there was a deadline and they were in danger of missing it? 

Why do I feel strongly that he did, in fact, tell Davis just that?

What was Davis' response? He was superintendent then and had the responsibility for two things, among many others:

1. Davis needed to give Miley all the support he needed to meet the deadline;

2. Davis needed to inform the Board (that's the "old" board) of the danger, risk, and consequences of missing the deadline;

And then Davis needed to inform the "new" Board that the deadline had been missed.

Did he?

Why would he not do so, if he didn't?

How did that work out for him?

Monday, February 6, 2023

Donating to Act Blue? Watch out!

I don't get into political things too often here, but, if you donate to MedicareforAll or ActBlue.com, you'll want to read this carefully. Or, if you know any died-in-the-wool Democrats who might donate to them, pass this along to them.

Recently, I helped a friend resolve some tricky financial problems. When I reviewed her credit card statements, I noticed some (many) transactions involving Medicareforall and ActBlue.com

She explained that she had made occasional, small, one-time donations. 

I asked, "So what are all these?

We called her credit card company, and there were 144 transactions for over $1,300, many on the same day, two for $125, and one for $250. Her credit card company reversed all of them.

She will be writing to ActBlue's new CEO/President, Regina Wallace-Jones, and sending copies to the FBI, SLED, and the Attorneys General in South Carolina, Massachusetts (ActBlue's headquarters), and New York.

If you know anyone who might have donated, urge them to review their credit card statements very carefully for the past six months (or more). 

And review your statements as you prepare to make your payment. Often, there is a limited period for challenging fraudulent transactions.

I have long said there is a real danger in receiving only e-Statements from credit card companies. Customers often just look at the minimum-payment due and don't inspect the transactions. 

If you don't pay off your balance in full every month, check the interest rate (buried at about Page 4 of your statement) and understand what that little "(v)" means. That 29.99% interest rate on your balance is PLUS Prime Rate, so you are actually paying over 37% interest.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

"Trustes"? Richland 2 Paid for This?


As of 2/4/2023 9:00AM

How much is Richland 2 paying for a staff member to produce this title screen for a board meeting?

And, worse, nobody caught it and corrected it after Tuesday, January 31?

Is this the work of the Media Relations Department?

Somebody once said, "Don't sweat the small stuff." And somebody else said, "It's all small stuff."

Well, if people can't do the small stuff right, how are they ever going to do the big stuff right?