Thursday, September 28, 2023

Richland 2 pays out $285,000 to settle

Yesterday's The State newspaper reports that Richland 2 School District has agreed to pay out $285,000 to settle a sexual assault lawsuit from a January 2020 locker-room assault.

The current article does not name the victim or the punks who assaulted him. Four were arrested by RCSD. An earlier article reported that the four boys were 14- and 15-years-old.

Since they were juvies, their names were withheld, and we'll never know if they skated on the charges. 

The actions of those punks sort of makes you want to vomit, don't they? 

Was there really a "history of hazing and violent abuse" in the RVHS boys' athletic programs, as the lawsuit claimed?

Was it cheaper for Richland 2 to settle than risk a court decision? Shouldn't the four kids be the ones to pay and not the taxpayers?

Lawsuits typically allege everything except rust in the kitchen sink, hoping that some of the allegations might stick. 


Friday, September 15, 2023


Board members,

When a point-of-order is called, all - ALL - conversation stops. 

It need be said only in a normal voice. All the other board members should hear it, recognize it, and honor it.

Business stops.

If the Chair doesn't hear it, repeat it. If necessary, repeat it more loudly.

If that doesn't work, stand up and say loudly, "Mr. Chair. POINT-OF-ORDER!!!"

The Chair should know what to do next.

If the Chair doesn't, then any board member should hold up a copy of Robert's Rules of Order and offer it to the Chair.

The board needs a Parliamentarian. In more ways than one. The District does not have one or anyone familiar enough with Robert's Rules to serve as one.

How do you adjourn a meeting?

As last Tuesday's school board meeting was winding up, one trustee was packing up and preparing to head out the door.

Chairman Joe Trapp called for a Motion to Adjourn. It was made (Washington) and seconded (Scott). When the vote was called for, here's what happened during the hand vote.

Six trustees voted Yes.

Chairman Trapp noticed that Trustee Washington hadn't voted. She was busy packing up and getting ready to leave. When he inquired, she raised her left hand.

Here is another way it could have gone.

Chair: "We'll take a hand vote. All in favor, raise your right hands." (6)

"All opposed?"  (none)

"Have all voted who wish to vote?" (no response)

"The vote is 6 Yes, 0 No, 1 Not Voting. The meeting is adjourned."

Release Time item removed from Agenda

Last Tuesday's school board meeting (September 12, 2023) has resulted in many people coming unglued over the Release Time for Religious Instruction (RTRI) proposal.

Trustee Angela Nash has taken to Facebook to "explain" what happened.

For simplicity, here is what happened. The Board voted to remove Item 8.1 RTRI from that night's agenda. The vote was 4-3. 

That's all that happened, but people are blowing it up all out of proportion.

Read the following from Facebook:

Jeffrey Zell

The fact of the matter, regardless of the process or technicalities of the processes (and yes, the process does matter), is that four individuals on your board killed the elective opportunity for parents to exercise their God-given, constitutionally protected, and lawfully structured freedom of religion.
That was the outcome, and no amount of technical dithering, convolution of process, and nuance will change that fact.
If those four actually believe in the Constitution and their oaths of office, one of those four will make a motion to bring this back on the agenda in the very near future for a full vote.
I have a feeling that’s not going to happen.
Whether it’s fear, hostility towards Christianity or religion in general, simple partisan politics, or personal vendettas, those four board members said collectively; ‘R2 parents, we do not value your first amendment rights, or established state law, or your right to choose.’

They can reconcile this, but if they don’t, those four “Trustees,” as far as I’m concerned, are no longer to be trusted with their word or their adherence to our founding principles. 

This is what the "Cancel Culture" does. It shames others. It does not respect "process". It reachs out far beyond reasonable lengths to blame, shame, disrespect, accuse, and irrationally question, when it disagrees with a decision.

The fact is that removing the Item 8.1 from the agenda did not kill it. It only removed it from that night's agenda. Had the Board "tabled" it, that might have killed it (for a while).

My own opinion is that RTRI is a terrible idea. I support religious instruction, if you want it for your child. There are many hours available - before school, after school, evenings, nights, and week-ends. 

Nationally, according to the proposing group's own numbers, 0.7% (350,000/4,500,000) of K-12 students in the United States take advantage of RTRI. 0.7% is less than 1 in 100. If that percentage holds true for Richland 2, then out of 28,000 students, 196 students may enroll in RTRI.

How much more time will be devoted to the desires of 196 students?

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Armed guards - every school

Texas recently passed a state law that mandates armed security in every school in the state.

That requirement can be fulfilled by a cop or even  "a school district employee who has completed school safety training and carries a handgun on their [sic] person on school premises."

The estimated cost there is $80,000/year per school. The state provides $15,000/year; the District pays the rest.

What does a Richland County Sheriff's Department SRO cost Richland 2? During one staff presentation to a past board, I recall the price tag of $150,000/year. Was that correct then? Is it correct now? Forty SROs would cost $6,000,000. That's per year.

Richland 2 used to have two employees who carried guns while working. At a school board meeting that contained an item to give the then-superintendent the authority over approvals to carry, the liberal majority on the school board decided to ban the guns from school property. Both employees were former police officers working in the District's security department. Neither works for the District now.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Richland 2 Board Meeting - the Fangs Came Out

Trustee Monica Scott

Tonight's meeting was one not to be missed! Thank goodness for Livestream.

I had registered to speak; then yesterday I canceled my registration because the Release Time for Religious Instruction item was a No Action Requested item on the agenda.

I watched from home. The first, usually brief, public session before going into Executive Session was not brief. Be sure to watch it.

The first item was to approve the agenda. Trustee Agostini made a comment and then made a Motion to remove Item 8.1 from the Agenda.

The fangs came out. Be sure to watch it. Discussion was lively and, at times, accusatory and unfriendly. Trustee Scott was dressed to the nines; not sure whether she had just come from a cocktail party or was headed to one after the meeting. 

Chair Trapp stated that a motion to remove the Item was actually a decision to kill the Release Time program. I disagree. The Motion was merely to remove it from tonight's agenda. Where did he get the idea that removing it was killing it? "Tabling" might be the equivalent of killing it, but merely removing it was not.

Item 8.1 was a No Action Required item on the Agenda. The trustees did not kill it. They voted 4-3 to remove it from the agenda. That's all they did.

Chair Trapp did a good job at riding herd on the mob tonight. He displayed his strongest stance as Chair since November. 

When he was challenged over having been one of three trustees to request the Release Time item to be on the agenda, he explained the Policy. My opinion is that, just because, as Chair, he and the superintendent create the agenda for the next meeting, why shouldn't he be able to be one of the three needed to request an item to be on the agenda? He is a trustee equal to the other six. 

Then came the absolutely best Public Participation segment I have witnessed in five years! Speakers were pro and con and because 21 speakers had signed up, each was limited to two minutes (not the usual three), by the decision of the Chair and the Superintendent. Several students spoke - and spoke very well!!! Rabbi Jonathan Case spoke again tonight and made complete sense.

The tide has changed. Whereas on previous nights, most speakers were in favor of Release Time, that was not the case tonight. Be sure to watch the Public Participation portion of the meeting. That portion starts at 1:29:13 on 

Released Time Questions for the Board

At tonight's school board meeting Release Time (R/T) will once again be on the menu (err, Agenda) for discussion. Under Old Business - No Action Requested is Item 8.1 Release Time for Religious Instruction.

This means another night of discussion or, as some might call it, argument and division. No vote tonight. How much time will be used to repeat what has been said at previous meetings? Will the Board Chair ask speakers during Public Participation to speak about "new" issues or concerns, rather than wasting everybody's time with points that have already been raised?

And will the Board  Chair do the same with the Trustees? When they drag out words and thoughts that have already been pointed out, which they ought to remember as they move toward a future night when they will actually vote on it, will the Board Chair say, "We've already heard that. Do you have something new?"

Q. How many Richland 2 students are expected to take advantage of Release Time for Religious Instruction?

Q. How many students at which schools are expected to be involved?

Q. What is the District's estimate of the cost to implement and administer the Release Time Program?

Q. What has been the cost so far?

Q. What is the real liability? The District's lawyer should provide a written opinion. The statute does not eliminate the district's liability. It says only that the (religious) sponsoring entity will be liable during the time the student is with it. A plaintiff's attorney will quickly see the District's deep pocket, when anything goes awry.

Q. What impact on teachers and staff is expected?

Q. What will be the cost for teachers to help R/T students make up their homework and missed instructional time in the classroom?

Q. How many teachers are expected to quit over the extra workload?

The school board is expected to be executives who make decisions. Why are so many trustees down in the weeds, poking around, and doing the job that staff is supposed to be doing?

Cut out the campaign speeches. Ask short, direct questions of the staff and listen to their answers.

Is all this time and expense worth letting a student out of school for one hour of religious instruction per week??? 

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Record Ethics Fine?

In an email from today I learned of an article in The State newspaper yesterday about former Richland County Councilwoman Gwendolyn Kennedy. Reporter Bristow Marchant did a great job of reporting on that case.

Kennedy hit rough waters with the S.C. Ethics Commission and got socked with a fine and penalties of $298,544.07 on August 17. She did not appear at her hearing.

That amount might be a record. The Debtors' List at the S.C. Ethics Commission now totals $2,376,862.62, as of August 24, 2023. It contains 29 pages of names of individuals and businesses that are in debt to the State of South Carolina.

Kennedy is on that list for $10,972 for the years 2012 and 2015. The new fines have not yet been added to the List.

The Ethics Commission offered a sweetheart deal to Kennedy. If she pays $25,610 plus $2,644.07 to the Children's Trust Fund, the Ethics Commission will dismiss the balance of fees and penalties. 

While not stated in the article, the Commission usually requires that smaller payment within 90 days. A deal not to be passed up; right?

Plus there is a $48,800 penalty for her P-Card problems. She can settle that debt for $4,800, if paid within 18 months.

Whose debts are the largest?

Gwendolyn Kennedy $358,316.07 ($298,544.07+$48,800+$10,972)

Torlando R. Childress $211,919.07

Richard E.R. Johnson $163,200

Paul M. Rivers $153,800.00

Stanley Pasley $148,514.25

Arnold Karr $104,674.44

Patrick R. Litman $86,033.27

Keith C. Van Winkle $69,800.00

Tony E. Lewis $60,955.00

Amelia McKie $58,035.13

The debt collector for the State is the S.C. Dept. of Revenue. The Governor should fire the DOR. It is doing a terrible job of collecting debts for the Ethics Commission.