New calls for R2 Chair’s resignation

Parent Asks Board If Daughter Can Ignore Her Detention

COLUMBIA – Calls for Richland Two board chair Amelia McKie to step down continued Tuesday night, with three residents saying she should step down, citing nearly $52,000 in ethics fines she owes.

Local Realtor Gary Dennis also criticized the board for shooting down a policy revision that, with cause, could have stripped board members of officer positions, such as chair or vice chair.

Dennis called the board a “laughing stock” in the state, likening recent events to a “comic strip.” He said one homebuyer interested in moving to Richland County now wants to move to Lexington or Chapin instead.

“As parents we must hold school board members to strict rules and regulations,” Dennis said. “I call on the chair to resign over the public issues that face her. Nothing is gained and everything is lost by staying on the board.”

Richland Two parent Dennis Rabon asked the board if his daughter could ignore the detention she received as punishment for a dress code violation as McKie ignored her ethics fines. He, too, called for McKie to step down.

“Character and accountability are just as important as GPAs and SATs,” Rabon said. “How can you hold your superintendent accountable when you can’t hold your board members accountable?

“In a county so rife with corruption and mismanagement, you had an opportunity to rise up and say enough,” Rabon continued.

Richland Two parent Rhonda Meisner not only called for McKie to step down, but she also accused the chair of manipulating the public input schedule in her (McKie’s) favor. She also said some of McKie’s supporters have harassed her for speaking out.

“After the [Jan. 22] meeting, several people supporting Ms. McKie verbally attacked me on several occasions,” Meisner said.

McKie did not respond to calls for her resignation, and during board member comments, she and other board members generally thanked each other and staff for their hard work.

Ethics did not get raised specifically by board members, though Lindsay Agostini thanked residents who have come to board meetings to voice their concerns. She urged others to do the same instead of resorting to posting on social media.

McKie has faced intense political pressure amid revelations in a series of investigative reports by The Voice that she owes $51,750 in unpaid ethics fines.

The S.C. Ethics Commission fined McKie for failing to file several campaign disclosure reports and statements of economic interest, or SEI, forms.

At the Feb. 12 meeting, the board voted 4-3 against a policy that would make it easier for the board to boot the chair, vice-chair or secretary from their board officer positions, but not from the board itself.

McKie would have potentially been impacted by the policy. She, Holmes, Cheryl Caution-Parker and James Shadd voted against it.  Agostoni, Monica Elkins-Johnson and James Manning voted for the policy.

Earlier in the meeting, the board spent 20 minutes debating an agenda item concerning board policy about adding agenda items.

Board member Agostini asked the board to table discussion of the policy, which empowers the superintendent and board chair to develop the agenda. Her motion failed 5-2 after substantial debate.

Agostini and board member Teresa Holmes voted for tabling the discussion. However, only Agostini voted against approving the agenda with the board policy discussion left intact.

Superintendent Dr. Baron Davis said the new policy is designed so agendas aren’t unilaterally decided. He also said nothing prevents board members from suggesting agenda items.

According to the policy, other board members and the public can suggest agenda items, but ultimately the work of crafting the agenda rests with the superintendent and board chair.

“This removes one person from driving the agenda. It also removes the superintendent having complete autonomy over the agenda,” he said.

Holmes, however, said the policy was unclear.

“I’m concerned, like Ms. Agostini, because I don’t see where it says we can vote to put a policy in. As it stands right now, it does not say that,” Holmes said.

Later in the meeting, board member Monica Elkins-Johnson tried to amend the motion to approve the policy.

She wanted board members to have the ability to help craft the agenda, but her proposed amendment wasn’t taken up. The board voted 4-3 for the policy, with Agostini, Holmes and Elkins-Johnson voting against.

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