R2 board to discuss ethics issue again Thursday

COLUMBIA – Once again the Richland Two school board plans to discuss ongoing ethics issues behind closed doors.

Only this time the board is also slated to discuss board policies that address how board officers are chosen, suggesting changes to one or more leadership positions.

An agenda for Tuesday night’s meeting lists six executive session items, including one for the “receipt of legal advice regarding Ethics Act issues and Board Policy BD.”

Board Policy BD involves “Organization of the Board,” according to the school district’s website.

Among other things, the policy details the process for the election of officers: chairman, vice-chairman and secretary. Officer elections occur in June, the policy states.

Legally, the board couldn’t proceed with electing officers at Tuesday’s meeting.

Recent changes in state law prohibit public bodies for taking action on an executive session item without also stating on the agenda that action may be taken.

Tuesday night’s agenda lists three executive session items that may receive a vote, but the ethics discussion isn’t among them.

At the board’s Jan. 8 meeting, concerned parent Rhonda Meisner called for board chairwoman Amelia McKie to resign.

Meisner cited a section of state law that says elected officials failing to file Statements of Economic Interest forms with the S.C. Ethics Commission can’t be legally sworn in to office.

A week later, the board scheduled a special meeting that consisted of a single agenda item – an executive session to “receive legal advice concerning Ethics Act issues.” The session lasted an hour and a half. No action was taken in public session.

An investigation by The Voice found that McKie and four other board members failed to file either SEI forms or quarterly campaign disclosure reports, also required under state law.

In June 2018, the ethics commission fined McKie $41,000 and ordered her to pay half by Dec. 31, 2018. When she didn’t, the fine jumped to $51,750, agency records state.

Tuesday’s meeting will be held at the Richland Two Institute of Innovation at 763 Fashion Drive, Columbia. The executive session starts at 5:30 p.m., followed by a business meeting at 7 p.m.