Wednesday, June 28, 2023
Tuesday, June 27, 2023
At 5:34PM the Regular board meeting for June 27th was called to order. Forty-eight remote viewers were perched on the edges of their seats, awaiting the start of tonight's festivities. We watched the splash message that read Executive Session begins at 5:30PM. We knew that, but the Board has to first convene in Open Session before recessing to executive session.
Six trustees and the interim superintendent were present.
The board headed for executive session at 5:36PM. There were 65 remote viewers at that time.
At 6:33PM the Board reconvened in public session. The number of remote viewers was 184 - the highest in a long time. All trustees were present.
A public hearing was opened on the General Fund Budget for 2023-24. No one was present to speak. The board waited about five minutes and then closed the public hearing.
I was hoping for a short Inspirational Moment tonight. The teacher took over 2½ minutes to introduce the two students with him, both rising seniors.
Joyce Brooks was announced as the sole speaker during Public Participation. She was a no-show. The Board should develop a plan to confirm speakers who sign up online and determine whether they will be attending the meeting.
When Chair Agostini called for Item 9.1, NO Trustee spoke up. What is up with Board Members who are unwilling to speak up and make the motion called for? Finally, the Chair had to make the motion.
An option could have been, "Hearing no Motion, we'll move on to the next item, which is ___." But then there would have been no action on the Policy for "Retirement of Professional and Support Staff".
At 7:18PM the Board entered Executive Session 2 to finish what they did not complete in the first Executive Session. The last item in the first Executive Session was "Discussion of Superintendent Employment".
Since that was the most important item on the Executive Session agenda (IMHO), why didn't they schedule that one first? Or make sure they had sufficient time to "discuss" whatever they had to discuss?
7:38 Kim Moore was selected as Richland Two's next Superintendent.
Don't miss Monica Scott's comments! Scott said she was "giddy", and she was. Scott called Dr. Moore forward to speak, before she was even elected by the board.
The vote was 6-1 for her selection.
After Dr. Moore addressed the board and the community, Chair Agostini excused herself, turning the meeting over to Mrs. Gregory for the board elections.
Monica Scott and Joe Trapp were nominated for Chair. Monica said she wanted the members to write their names on their ballots! That was discussed and rejected. The vote was 3-3, and Monica stepped back. A hand vote was then taken, and the vote for Joe Trapp was 6-0. Joe Trapp is the next Board Chair.
For those who have been wondering where Finalist Benjamin Henry got his doctorate, the State of Florida has the answer.
According to the resume posted on Florida's Department of Education website, Benjamin Henry received his Education Doctorate from Argosy University* (Tampa, Fla.) in 2011. His dissertation topic was "Hopelessness and its Impact on Middle School Male Students".
His Master's degree is from University of Phoenix in 2004.
The online resume appears to be somewhat out-of-date, because it doesn't list his last four years as Regional Superintendent of Polk County (Florida) Schools.
At tonight's school board meeting, we'll learn who Candidate X is. The District's website reads, for tonight's meeting, "Richland Two Board Meeting - Will Formally Announce New Superintendent".
I read that "Will" as Candidate X has accepted the position and agreed to terms of employment.
Now the question is, Who is Candidate X?
* Argosy University closed permanently on March 8, 2019.
Saturday, June 24, 2023
Friday, June 23, 2023
And the winner is ........
At today's Special-Called Board Meeting the board voted to extend the position of superintendent to Candidate X.
The Special-Called Meeting started at 1:00PM and, after a hiccup in getting the Motion to enter executive session, the Board did so at 1:03PM. Trustee Niki Porter was absent from the meeting.
The Board returned at 3:55PM. 16 hearty souls were tuned in remotely.
After the Motion to re-convene, Chair Agostini (she must be exhausted) asked for a motion to adjourn. Oops. Then she asked for a motion for executive session.
Then Trustee Washington made a Motion to enter into contract negotiations with Candidate X. The motion was seconded by Trustee Scott.
SURPRISE! For those of us who sat around for three hours expecting to hear the name of the selected finalist, we were greatly disappointed.
The vote was 6-0-0-1 (Yea-Nay-Abstain-Not Present at Vote)
Trustee Nash moved to adjourn the June 22, 2023 special-called board meeting. She had to be corrected, because today is June 23.
To view the portion of the meeting after the executive session, go to livestream.com/richland2 and advance the timer bar to 2:59:04
Perhaps I'm the only one who mistakenly thought the board might announce its choice. Could the Chair or the interim superintendent have said earlier in the week, "So that there won't be any misunderstanding on Friday, the board will not announce the name of its choice on Friday. A contract offer will likely be extended, and the name will not be released until the offer is accepted and negotiations have been completed."
Thursday, June 22, 2023
Wednesday, June 21, 2023
Tuesday, June 20, 2023
Monday, June 19, 2023
Is the school board holding meetings on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday?
Richland 2 homepage: "Finalist Interviews for Superintendent", June 20, 21, 22
Livestream.com/Richland2: "Special-Called Board Meeting", June 20, 21, 22
The official place for announcements of board meetings is on the District's website.
If it is not announced on the webpage, will only up-to-three board members attend each night, avoiding a quorum?
Are these interview sessions open to the public?
[Edited. Agendas have now been published for the June 20, 21, and 22 Special-Called Board Meetings, and the District's website will be updated for those dates. And, finalist interviews will be conducted in Executive Session.]
Saturday, June 17, 2023
WACH.com carried this piece on June 1st about Cyrus Carmack-Belton, a 14-year-old Summit Parkway Middle School student who was shot on May 28. The reporter "conveniently" omitted from the story that Cyrus was carrying a gun. This was apparently written by someone or some people at the School.
"Cyrus Carmack-Belton, a SIDI Magnet student, has been taken from us far too soon. A light in The Nest will be missed among the faculty and staff, as well as his peers. He was intelligent, humorous with quick wit and well-liked by his classmates. We could always depend on Cyrus to ask questions beyond the scope of the topic as he often would seek to understand, rather than accept and move on. He often had conversations with members of the faculty & staff about his dreams, goals and aspirations. He dreamed of owning a tattoo shop and being famous one day. We all poured into him daily and we were pleased to see the results of his hard work when he was promoted to high school. We remember his infectious smile and tenacity. We were blessed to have Cyrus a part of The Nest and pleased to see some of the seeds that were planted grow and blossom. He will be remembered forever in our hearts. Soar high young Eagle, soar high."
There is no doubt in my mind Cyrus was liked. But his possession of a gun - illegally - was a direct contribution to his death. How do we get students, teenagers, and others to realize that, when they engage in risky behavior, they may not get another chance?
The sheriff says that Cyrus "touched" a water bottle (or bottles) in the convenience store. "Touching" would be opening the cooler door, reaching in, and touching a bottle. Another story is that Cyrus removed four water bottles from a cooler and returned them, after he saw he was being watched. That's not "touching".
After a confrontation near the exit of the store, Cyrus left the store. Another story said he ran from the store.
The sheriff said a gun was found "near the body". Exactly where was the gun? "Near the body" implies some short distance from the body. Inches? feet? arms' length?
Why hasn't the sheriff said what type of gun it was? Was it loaded? Exactly where it was found? Were Cyrus' DNA and fingerprints on it? Whose gun was it? How did Cyrus get it? Was it purchased by a family member or friend? Acquired by some other means?
Oh, I know. It's all part of an on-going investigation. Not really.
Then read the WACH.com story that is linked in that article. The headline is "Officials release more details on Cyrus Carmack-Belton case"
Thursday, June 15, 2023
Wednesday, June 14, 2023
At the June 13, 2023 school board meeting a trustee asked about the I.G. Recommendations Committee meetings and when the next meeting would be.
I think it was Niki Porter, member of the I.G. Recommendations Committee, who said it would be after the new superintendent starts.
When were the past meetings? Jan.18, Feb. 21, Mar. 21. None in April. None in May. None in June.
On May 19 the committee published a summary of actions completed by the District and claims 70% of the I.G. recommendations have been completed.
Now, what's the deal about waiting for the new superintendent? The I.G.'s Report came out in October 2022 and was based on the District then and the old board.
Why not finish cleaning up the mess, and let the superintendent start with a clean slate? Why burden the new superintendent with straightening out something of which he'll have no knowledge?
Passing the buck is a cop-out. The District, the board, and the committee have had seven months. As with most projects, the final part can be the most difficult.
So complete it!
Tuesday, June 13, 2023
Tonight's Public Participation was "interesting".
The first speaker, Irina Stevens, blasted the District for its gender-ideology practices. She begins at 1:11:50 on the Livestream recording, https://livestream.com/richland2/events/10878735/videos/236545693
Ms. Stevens, at 1:13:30, had just said, "Will Anderson diligently replied to ...", when Trustee Niki Porter interrupted her with "Point of Order".
Instead of waiting to be recognized by the Chair, Porter continued, "Our speakers are not supposed to name individuals that [sic] work in Richland Two..." (This is often the habit of Trustee Porter - to begin speaking without being recognized. She has resisted waiting to be recognized since the beginning of her term.)
Chair Agostini asked Ms. Stevens to refer to Anderson as the COO, eliciting a "I apologize" from the speaker.
No apology by the speaker was warranted, because the Point-of-Order was wrong.
Speakers are not to express complaints about people associated with the District. That is how the Board Policy BEDH reads. And Ms. Stevens had not.
Robert's Rules of Order addresses Point-of-Order. Porter should have waited to be recognized. After the Chair recognized her, then she could proceed to state her objection. The correct response from the Chair should have been to recite the applicable portion of Board Policy BEDH, explain that the speaker had not violated the BEDH, over-rule the Point-of-Order, apologize to the speaker, and invite her to continue with no penalty on time for the interruption.
I was the next speaker (starting at 1:15:37). I had prepared a request to the Board to ask the superintendent to direct staff to follow procedures laid out in Board Policies and Administrative Rules, without arbitrarily and unilaterally expanding them.
However, I was reactive to the first 12 minutes of tonight's meeting at its 5:30PM beginning.
Chair Agostini had wanted to remove discussion of Board Policy BC - Board Conduct from the Agenda and place it on a workshop agenda in August. The claws (of other board members) came out. The Chair was voted down 1-6.
I pointed out that problems with Board Conduct can be solved with "being civil, being respectful, and being polite." I asked the board members to listen to the beginning of the meeting and to listen to themselves.
The last speaker was Katie Gage. She had signed up online to speak but her name didn't make it to the list. She begins at 1:22:22. She ripped the District for the Pride event at Blythewood High School. She labeled the Pride event and sexual-identity politics as "ideological grooming". She is an eloquent and patriotic speaker.
Later in the meeting "board conduct" became an issue, when Board Policy BC - Board Conduct was discussed. Porter explained (1:34:58) why certain items were added to the proposed revision, directing her remarks toward the Chair, and saying "...so that you understand why we put these statements in place..." Why did she feel it necessary to make pointed statements toward the Chair?
Trustee and Vice-Chair Scott was worried about someone feeling "uncomfortable." Board Members, grow up! If you can't handle the heat, get out of the kitchen!
That whole discussion about BC was the exact reason it should have been handled in a workshop and not in a board meeting!
Monday, June 12, 2023
Saturday, June 10, 2023
Have you ever tried to find old "news" that you read on the District's website?
I received this helpful information from a reader. Many thanks.
"You have written previously about information being removed from the RSD2 homepage. If you click on 'View All News', you will find the (Stakeholder Input) survey as well as all of the news articles that have ever appeared on the homepage. Obviously ALL news can not remain on the homepage, but it is not deleted!"
The reader added,"I can not imagine someone being able to start as the new superintendent on July 3rd, unless they are currently employed by RSD2. It will be interesting!"
Friday, June 9, 2023
The District has moved the Stakeholder Input Report off its homepage, and one parent has told me that it is now very hard to find. (To search on the District's website, first click on EXPLORE (top right); then enter a keyword in the Search field.)
For your convenience the Stakeholder Input Report, prepared by the superintendent-search firm of McPherson & Jacobson, can be found by clicking here. (For those who don't like to click on blind links, you'll find the survey at https://www.richland2.org/News/Stakeholder-Survey-Results)
This report contains what McPherson & Jacobson heard in May from six groups: Business & Community Leaders; Classified Staff; Community Meetings; Parents; Students; and Teachers.
Read for the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Thursday, June 8, 2023
Tuesday, June 6, 2023
Did the victim report that assault and theft? Why was Abrams in school on the following day, April 25?
Monday, June 5, 2023
"When Cyrus Carmack-Belton’s mother sent this picture to me I had to do a double take because he looked so much like my middle son,” Rutherford said. “What happened to him wasn’t an accident: it’s something that the Black community has experienced for generations: being racially profiled, then shot down in the street like a dog. Words can’t describe the pain I feel having known this family for decades. One beacon of hope is seeing the resilience of the Black community as they wrap their arms around this family that has joined the club that no Black family ever wants to be a part of. As our firm moves forward with this case, we are working to ensure that justice prevails and work towards building a safer community for all residents of Columbia and the greater South Carolina area, regardless of race. This is why I can’t help but fight to ensure history isn’t whitewashed or forgotten. This isn’t an anomaly, but I know America can be better. And that is what we’re fighting for. Because no family should have to deal with this in 2023."
The first thing I noticed about this picture was "RUTHERFORD LAW". My immediate thought was, "When was such a current picture of Cyrus taken at Rutherford's office?"
Then on Friday of last week I learned of the GoFundMe account that lists Todd Rutherford as the Organizer. And there was a very similar (identical?) photo of Cyrus, but without "RUTHERFORD LAW".
Saturday, June 3, 2023
This morning turned out to be a good time to check the website for the Summit Parkway Middle School. Teachers and staff have been in the news this week.
So, what did I find on the school's website?
SUMMIT UP NEWS - where Eagles soar
The page is 18 months out-of-date!
to stay safe and be successful,
- wear face mask while on campus
- these are December 2021 events
EARLY DISSMISAL........ Seriously? Somebody needs to go back to school and repeat Third Grade.
Friday, June 2, 2023
Reporter Michael Smith of The Independent Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County contacted me for a comment after the Richland 2 Scho...
The school board has scheduled a Special-Called Meeting for Tuesday, January 17, 2022, 4:30PM. Are you kidding me? After the marathon on Jan...
On December 14th I wrote about a Blythewood Middle School teacher, Aja Adams, who was charged with four motor vehicle violations, including ...