Saturday, July 29, 2023

SCDE Loyalty Oath?

Can you believe this?

The South Carolina Department of Education will conduct an internal session for some employees, and they must stand up, introduce themselves, and complete this sentence, "I believe it is essential for SCDE to provide ______ for every child to reach their full, God-Given potential."

Or, as it says further on in the article, "...God-given potential."

Not every employee was happy about that, and at least one queried WLTX.

Be sure to read Attorney Jay Bender's comment. He hits the nail squarely on the head. Maybe he should go by SCDE and hit a few heads, too. (This statement should not be read as urging, recommending, inciting, or condoning violence on any employee of SCDE (or anyone else)).

Did Llewellyn Sheally not see anything wrong before sending out the email mentioned in the article?

The SCDE apparently tried to say, Oh, that isn't what we meant. Of course, it did. It was compelling speech! Which employee was going to be brave enough to refuse to complete the sentence? Where would s/he like to be employed next?

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

If media say it, it's true. Right?

Well, let's see about that.

In a gushy news article about Richland 2, fell all over itself to pat Richland 2 on its back. Too bad it didn't tell the story more accurately.

Here's the article:

Notice the catchy headline: 

Richland County School District Two announces systemic change ahead of school year

Now, read the article and see if you can find the "systemic change" referred to in the headline.

Did you notice the glee a couple of weeks ago when the 89% completion percentage of the IG's recommendations was mentioned at a school board meeting? And the "Nancy Pelosi" hand-clapping? Why are the trustees cheering?

The I.G. had slammed Richland 2. Sure, his report was based on the old board (the then-majority, all of whom are gone). What's happening now is that Richland 2 is cleaning up its act. So the "spin" is to say "Look what we have accomplished." 

All smoke and mirrors, folks.

Now here are a couple of statements from the WIS article. Read them and decide how you feel about the truthfulness.

Here's a quote from Supt. Moore:

“'I would describe [the progress] as exceptional. Because in seven months, we’ve reached 89% which is a result of really hard work by the entire district but some key people in particular,' continued Dr. Moore."

The Royal "We"

Notice her "... in seven months, we've reached 89%". Why is she including herself in the credit? Key people? Two of them are already gone! And she wasn't even here.

Moore was hired by Richland 2 (a Post and Courier article referred to her as "newly-minted". Not sure why a new hire would be described as "newly-minted". But that's how the reporter described her.

Her first day at work was July 3. She had no part whatsoever is the first six months of 2023. 

And a better example:

“'My focus this year has been on fiscal accountability as well as our HR practices, which is right in alignment with what the IG report states. Because we have to be very good stewards of the resources that we have, that the public has trusted us with. So, accountability and expectations are the foundation of the work we are doing here in our district,' concluded Dr. Moore."

Her focus this year? She hasn't been here a month yet. So her focus "this year" has absolutely not been on fiscal accountability. Look at the buzzwords right off the "get this right" shelf: "alignment"; "very good stewards"; "accountability"; "expectations"'; "foundation".

"My focus"? She is already claiming the prize for any accomplishment. There is no accomplishment here. It's a business. A business that was doing things wrong and got caught at it. Manpower in the District must have been stretched thin to get all the normal work done PLUS dealing with the I.G.'s critical report.

Remember when Harry Miley said his department couldn't crank out an extra paycheck to a large number of employees (but not all) before spring break? And Monica Scott said she had faith that he'd do so? Did he? How did he do it? How much overtime pay was required to send employees some vacation pay a week early? Did that pushback cost Miley his job?

Prioritizing the response to the I.G.'s Report had to cost a bundle, and no one is talking about that.

I have a personal interest in a small amount of that remaining 11%. It could have been handled in five minutes by the interim superintendent. Instead, it lingered in limbo for over two months. It should have been addressed and resolved before the new superintendent took office. It wasn't. So not she will get to deal with it. Or else Inspector General Lamkin will get to deal with it.

Friday, July 21, 2023

R2i2 Parking Alert

Sandhills Library has sent out an alert for parking problems at the Library (R2i2) on July 24 and from July 31-August 5. 

The school district expects over 300 attendees at conferences at R2i2 on those days.

The library suggests you consider the parking problem if you plan to visit the library on those days.

My reaction? The library is a full-time, year-round lessee of the District. The District should not disrupt services of the library. The District should protect some parking for library patrons.

One way to do that is to arrange off-site parking for conference attendees at Sandhills Shopping Center and to provide shuttle buses to/from R2i2.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

How did School Boards attract so much attention?

Here's an article that may interest you. The title is "How School Board Meetings Became Flashpoints for Anger and Chaos Across the Country".

ProPublica holds itself out to be "... a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power."

I didn't read all the articles connected to this, but I quickly wondered whether they supported the claim that ProPublica had found "... nearly 60 incidents that led to arrests or criminal charges. Almost all were in suburban districts, and nearly every participant was white."

For sure, I can tell you about one school board meeting (Feb. 8, 2022) when a black speaker threatened white men in the room and in the District, as he loudly blamed them, instead of blaming Pamela Davis for her outburst at the January 25, 2022 board meeting. The then-board chair or the then-superintendent should have shut him down, but neither did.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

LexRich 5 and "Between the World and Me"

According to this article, the school board of Lexington Richland 5 got a good work-out last night over the book, Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates was at the meeting to support a Chapin High School teacher who had used the book in her class last February.

The best way to find out what this book is about is to read it, so I reserved it today at the Richland Library. The library owns three copies of it (11 Holds) and an audio-book. One of these days the library will be me know that it's available. 

The publisher's description of the book on the library's website reads, 

"For Ta-Nehisi Coates, history has always been personal. At every stage of his life, he's sought in his explorations of history answers to the mysteries that surrounded him--most urgently, why he, and other black people he knew, seemed to live in fear ... In [this book], Coates takes readers along on his journey through America's history of race and its contemporary resonances through a series of awakenings--moments when he discovered some new truth about our long, tangled history of race, whether through his myth-busting professors at Howard University, a trip to a Civil War battlefield with a rogue historian, a journey to Chicago's South Side to visit aging survivors of 20th century America's 'long war on black people,' or a visit with the mother of a beloved friend who was shot down by the police" -

OK, I'm biased already by the publisher's words. 

Friday, July 14, 2023

Two key positions now vacant

Check out this page on the District's website - Senior Leadership.

There are now two key positions vacant.
1. Sr. Chief Officer for Finance and Operations
2. Sr. Chief Officer for Human Resources

Who occupied those positions?
1. Harry Miley
2. Shawn Williams

The new superintendent started July 3, 2023. Today is July 14, 2023.

Did they resign or were they given their walking papers? Was there any mention of their departure at the July 11th board meeting?

Williams was very recently recognized as the 2021-2022 South Carolina Personnel Administrator of the Year by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA).

Dr. Harry Miley was recognized by the South Carolina Association of School Business Officials as the Outstanding School Business Official.

The credentials of Miley and Williams have already been purged from the District's website.

If they were fired, how did the new superintendent complete a full, fair, and complete evaluation of their employment history and performance in such a short period of time?

Who is in charge in their absence? Does the District have employees capable of moving right into those positions without skipping a beat in the work getting done?

Earlier this year the board withheld ratification of five key employment contracts. Those two were among the five. If you have an employment contract with the District and it is not ratified, is that the same as getting fired? Dd the Board decide to kick them to the curb? 

The other interesting note (for me) is the weblink associated with the information on the page. Clearly, the senior leadership of the District is a group of administrators who are not assistant superintendents for schools.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

New Trespass Administrative Rule & Form

On June 26, 2023 Richland 2, without fanfare or announcement, revised its Trespass Policy under Administrative Rule (AR) KI-R. An appeal form has been added as File KI-E.

Supt. Moore referred to this revision at the end of the I.G. Recommendations Committee meeting on July 12, 2023.

Where do you find the revised KI-R?

Go to the District's website. Then click on EXPLORE; then click on School Board; then click on BOARD POLICIES; then click on K - SCHOOL - COMMUNITY - HOME RELATIONS; then click on Policy KI Visitors.

In AR KI-R Visitors, scroll down to Trespass Notices.

Language has been added to the Administrative Rule, Paragraph Two now reads, "A trespass notice is a written notice informing an individual that he/she has been banned from a designated property ..."

N.B., "... from a designated property..."  Singular. One property. Not ALL properties.

On July 11th I emailed Supt. Moore to request an appointment regarding the trespass policy. When no one had called to arrange it, I telephoned today and was transferred by a District operator to an extension that was answered by voicemail with a message that did not include the name of the woman speaking.

That did not please me at all! What kind of business tolerates blind voice mailboxes? Especially when the caller has been forwarded to the superintendent's office!

The school district is on a four-day workweek, so tomorrow is a dead day in the district.

I shall contact the I.G., if I don't hear early next week. 

What I want to know is whether Marq Claxton, Director of Safety & Security, is still using the trespass notice that bans the recipient from ALL District properties, as he was during the entire 2021-2022 School Year and which he continued to use into the 2022-2023 School Year.

I'd love to ask Claxton to answer, under oath, who directed him to expand the trespass letter beyond the scope of the Administrative Rule!

A blind voicemail box

Today I called for the Superintendent, and the operator transferred me to an administrator's or assistant's phone. It was answered by a woman's voice, and no name was given. Whoa! Wait a minute!

I didn't leave a message, other than a very pointed "This is NOT good service" (not to identify yourself). Why would someone not give her name in her voicemail greeting???

Is this how the new Administration wants to be known?

Friday, July 7, 2023

Here we go - - World Drumming???

Tuesday, July 11th, will be the first regular school board for the new superintendent. The agenda has been published.

I didn't get any further than Item 5.4 in the Consent Calendar before I was ready to pull out all the rest of my hair (which wouldn't take long).

Item 5.4 Local Board Approved (LBA) Course - World Drumming

Look at it. Click on the link. Who wanted that in the agenda? The agenda is planned by the Board Chair (Joe Trapp), the Superintendent, and (I think) one other board member. OK, who else was in that agenda-planning meeting?

Maybe that item is on the agenda as a joke to see who reads the agenda. Maybe it's there to push a few buttons. Will a trustee move at 5:30PM to amend the agenda and remove Item 5.4? If not, when the Consent Agenda is called, identify who wanted that item.

From the attachment to the agenda:

What is a Local Board Approved course (LBA)? A Local Board Approved (LBA) course is an elective course that is not listed in the South Carolina Department of Education’s Activity Code Book. The state allows local school districts to create Local Board Approved courses, but they must be electives only. These courses allow us flexibility to best meet school and student needs in our district. [Emphasis added] As a formality, local School Boards are required by the South Carolina Department of Education to approve these courses annually. 

There certainly aren't any "school" needs for that. What "student" needs could there be?

The only drumming needed in Richland 2 is to drum into the little brains of the students to learn the three R's and other things that will prepare them for Life and Work. 

If a few of them want to learn drumming, they can find it on their own, away from school.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

How many unnecessary departments?

Why does Richland Two have a "Communications and Strategic Partnerships Department"?

You'd think they were trying to correct a "Bud Light" problem.

Certain communications from the District are important; like, announcing a new superintendent and maybe one short message (back in January) that old one was gone.

All the other stuff? Why not just close it and use all that money in a different way?

Does the public have any idea how much money is spent by the various departments of Richland Two?

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

How many Richland 2 teachers belong to the NEA?

How many Richland 2 teachers belong to the National Education Association (NEA)?

You'll know that you can trust the NEA when you see a photo that is in the article of grinning VPOTUS Kamala Harris and the NEA president. Yeah, sure....

Who among Richland 2 parents is monitoring the books in schools like Gender Queer?