School Board Member Calls 9-1-1 on Reporter

Annie McDaniel

WINNSBORO – A Fairfield County School Board member, either unwilling or unable to answer questions from the news media Tuesday night, instead dialed 9-1-1 to report that she was being harassed.

“Yes, I am at the District Office and I am being harassed,” Board member Annie McDaniel (District 4) said into her cell phone after the 9-1-1 dispatcher answered her call.

While The Voice clearly heard the dispatcher answer McDaniel’s call, afterwards only McDaniel’s side of the conversation could be discerned for the record. It was as follows:

“The District Office at the School District. My name is Annie McDaniel. . . . Annie. McDaniel. . . . Mr. James Denton, with The Voice newspaper. . . . He’s standing right here in front of me . . . 803-960-5782 . . . He’s got on a beige jacket and a beige shirt . . . He approached me after the Board meeting, yelling at me, asking me questions . . . No, I’m sitting right here at my desk and he’s standing in front of me and he asked me a question and I told him I didn’t have an answer, and he’s yelling and harassing me. . . . OK. Thank you. Bye.”

A review of the recording of the conversation clearly shows that no voices other than McDaniel’s were raised during the question and non-answer session.

No emergency responders arrived at the District Office before the auditorium cleared, but a School Resource Office was on site throughout the entire meeting. Phyllis Watkins, Director of Fairfield County’s 9-1-1 system, said McDaniel’s choice of dialing 9-1-1 instead of answering questions from the media did not qualify as abuse of the system, but that it did exhibit a lack of understanding as to what the system should be used for.

“We prefer people call when they are facing a life-threatening emergency,” Watkins said Tuesday night. “That’s what we prefer. Unfortunately, that’s not what always happens.”

The questions that McDaniel refused to answer stemmed from accusations she had made during the meeting that J.R. Green, Superintendent of Schools, was not distributing funds from his discretionary account equitably among the District’s various clubs. McDaniel said Green’s focus appeared to be primarily on the Bow Tie Club at the expense of other clubs. Green said he had supported “a host of different clubs over the course of the year from the Superintendent’s contingency account,” and reminded McDaniel that the expenditure of those funds were, as the definition of the account would indicate, at his discretion.

“I guess the problem, Mr. Green, is that allows so much latitude for injustice to our kids in the district,” McDaniel said. “That’s like giving you a pile of money to do whatever you want to do with it. All I’m saying is that lends itself to unfairness, and if we are going to allow that to exist, there be some kind of communication on how it’s going to be used so that all our students are treated fairly, and not just one group of students that happen to be one you’re intimately involved with.”

Green said McDaniel’s statements were “pretty close to an indictment that I have been unfair to students, which I categorically reject. I guess the question is do you think I’m going to be fair to students or do you think I have been fair?”

After the meeting, The Voice asked McDaniel which clubs had received short shrift in favor of the Bow Tie Club. In lieu of an answer, McDaniel suggested The Voice obtain a list of district clubs from Green. Thinking the question had been misunderstood, The Voice restated the query, asking McDaniel directly which clubs were being treated unfairly.

“Do I need to call the Sheriff’s Department to ask them to come escort you? Because you’re really harassing me right now,” McDaniel said. “The questions you’re asking me, Mr. Green is the only person that can provide you that information.”

McDaniel could also not explain why she was the only Board member who failed to turn in her assessment worksheet for the District’s selection of a contractor for the construction of the new career and technology center, a matter the Board took up at the outset of the meeting.

“The Chair is the spokesperson for the Board, so any questions you have regarding this Board you need to ask her,” McDaniel answered. “I have no comment.”

But with six of the seven assessments delivered on time, Green recommended and the Board voted to award the contract to MB Kahn of Columbia. MB Kahn beat out Shiel Sexton, KBR Building Group and Edifice, Inc. all of Charlotte. Andrea Harrison (District 1) cast the lone dissenting vote. After the meeting, Harrison would not divulge which of the other firms she would have preferred.

Comments

  1. She is an embarrassment, yet she continually gets elected.
    Must be handing out that Howard Rich campaign money to entice voters.
    Hmmm, Howard Rich wants to do away with Public Schools and Annie is always a roadblock on the road to progress. Any logical reason????

  2. Mark Polk says

    Way to go Annie McDaniel! Don’t let the County Council get all the publicity!!

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