Updated: R2 Board meeting ends in melee

Richland Two board member Monica Elkins-Johnson, right, was denied a restraining order against Board chair’s husband. | Barbara Ball

COLUMBIA – An altercation involving a state senator, the spouse of the Richland Two school board chair and a second board member, erupted following a recent board meeting, according to public records obtained by The Voice.

The skirmish resulted in two separate police reports being filed against the subject (the reported school board member), whose name is redacted in the report, and a petition for a restraining order against Stacy McKie, spouse of board chair Amelia McKie.

A heavily redacted Richland County Sheriff’s Office report lists the incident type as “simple assault” in one report and “all other offenses” in the other. One report states the subject “was threatening to kill” McKie’s husband.

Although the police report contained significant redactions, Richland Two board member Monica Elkins-Johnson is named in the restraining order petition.

Elkins-Johnson sought a restraining order against Stacy McKie, alleging harassment, court documents state.

“I felt threatened and would ask that he not be allowed to come near me,” Elkins-Johnson wrote.

Daniel Coble, associate chief magistrate for Richland County, sided with Stacy McKie, and denied Elkins-Johnson’s petition.

Elkins-Johnson couldn’t be reached for comment. Amelia McKie, board chair, also couldn’t be reached.

In one of the police reports, McLeod and her sister are identified as saying they wish to prosecute. Attempts to reach McLeod have been unsuccessful.

Reports redacted

Sen. McLeod’s name is unredacted in the narrative. McKie, the school board chair, is also identified in the report by her elected post.

All other names of subjects, victims and witnesses were blackened. The only redactions in the restraining order petition were the plaintiff’s (Elkins-Johnson) and defendant’s (Stacy McKie) addresses and contact information.

Jay Bender, an attorney with the S.C. Press Association, of which The Voice is a member, said there’s no legitimate reason to redact the names of elected officials in any incident report, especially if they’re involved in an altercation following a school board or other public meeting.

“Taking the names out doesn’t mean it didn’t happen,” Bender said. “The law is very clear, when you’re involved in a matter of public interest and at a public meeting getting into a fracas, there is no right of privacy.”

Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Capt. Maria Yturria said the names were redacted because the investigation is ongoing. Yturria said no arrests have been made.

Bill Rogers, executive director of the S.C. Press Association, disputed the sheriff office’s interpretation of state law.

“I think this is an example of over-redaction. This is not something that’s going to hinder an investigation, it’s just covering up,” Rogers said. “These are public officials and the public has a right to know what they’re doing.”

Board members react

Things turned chippy shortly after last Tuesday’s meeting in which the board discussed proposed changes in board policy that would allow for the removal of the chairman, vice-chairman and secretary with cause.

The policy change comes in response to investigative reports by The Voice into board member ethics violations.

In June 2018, the S.C. Ethics Commission fined McKie $41,000 for failing to file several ethics reports. The fine jumped to $51,750 on Dec. 31 when she failed to pay the first $21,000 in fines.

Several other board members also failed to file various ethics reports on time during the 2018 election cycle, public records show.

At last week’s board meeting, but before the filing of police reports and restraining order petitions, board member Lindsay Agostini publicly called for McKie to step down as the board’s chairman, but not from her board post.

“After being informed by media of missing documents which took over a month for the chair to complete, she has taken no ownership of any wrongdoing,” Agostini said from the dais. “As you try to straighten things up for you and your family, I at a minimum ask that you step down as chair. A premier district deserves a premier board.”

Reached by phone Monday, Agostini declined to comment on the altercation described in the two police reports, or whether the proposed board policy changes should apply to last Tuesday’s incident as well.

Agostini would only say she’s saddened by the attention that’s being drawn to board member conduct.

“It saddens me that we are going through this experience,” she said. “I’m grateful that our administration is continuing to focus on our students and our teachers.”

Board member James Manning, who said he had no knowledge of the altercation beyond media reports, said the proposed board policy changes aren’t aimed at a specific individual or type of conduct.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s an ethics issue or some sort of police report,” he said. “The issue is when does one of our officers become ineffective in carrying out their roles and responsibilities?”

Documents detail drama

According to one incident report, as McLeod and her sister were leaving last week’s board meeting, the subject had an altercation with McKie’s spouse.

The subject, the report said, then aggressively approached one of the sisters whose name is redacted, while the other (also redacted) moved between them, the report continues.

The subject then pushed one of the sisters and cursed at McLeod and others according to the incident report. There were no injuries, but McLeod said she was in fear for her safety, and security had to restrain the subject, the report stated.

In the parking lot after the meeting, The Voice observed board member Monica Elkins-Johnson and at least one other board member near a car. Two security guards stood nearby.

Superintendent Dr. Baron Davis was present too, though he is not named in any of the police reports or court documents obtained by The Voice.

A second police report filed by a man who sources say is McKie’s spouse stated that the subject called him several “offensive words” and threatened to kill him. He said in the report that the subject also punched another person.

The altercation continued into the parking lot. When the subject approached McKie’s spouse a second time, she had to be restrained, the report continued.

“[Complainant/Victim] is concerned about the subject possibly approaching him again in a volatile and confrontational manner,” the report states.

On the following day, Elkins-Johnson sought a restraining order against Stacy McKie, saying in court records that the two were involved in a confrontation following the Jan. 22 school board meeting.

The confrontation occurred around 9:30 p.m. at the Richland Two Institute for Innovation, where board meetings are held.

“The defendant’s wife has been accused of ethics violations,” Elkins-Johnson wrote in the complaint. “Therefore, she invited her allies (about 30) to attend the meeting.”

Elkins-Johnson goes on to say in the complaint that she was speaking with some church members when she noticed Stacy McKie standing off to her left.

“I spoke to him. He loudly said to me, [expletive], don’t speak to me. I don’t [expletive] with you like that,” the document states. “The discussion continued and then he came closer to me and asked ‘what do I want to do?’”