Richland 2 Board awash in discord

Members Vote 4-3 Against Removing Officers For Cause

COLUMBIA – Despite several members facing ethical and criminal sanctions, the Richland Two Board of Trustees voted against a policy designed to increase their accountability.

On Tuesday night, the board voted 4-3 against a board policy revision that would have empowered the board to discharge office holders by a supermajority vote.

​“The board may, with a vote of five members, remove a board officer from his/her office, for cause, as determined by the board,” the proposed policy change states.

“In such a case, or in any case where there is a vacancy in a board office, the board may as soon as practical elect a member to fill the vacated office for the remainder of the term.”

Board chair Amelia McKie and board members James Shadd III, Cheryl Caution-Parker and Teresa Holmes voted against the policy change.

Board members James Manning, Lindsay Agostini and Monica Elkins-Johnson voted to support the policy.

The vote comes in the wake of a disorderly conduct charge filed against board secretary Monica Elkins-Johnson.

A Richland County Sheriff’s Office report states Elkins-Johnson was involved in a shoving match with Erica Davis, the sister of state Sen. Mia McLeod, following the Jan. 22 board meeting.

A second report states that Elkins-Johnson threatened Stacy McKie, husband of Amelia McKie.

It also comes amid the S.C. Ethics Commission fining Amelia McKie $51,750 for failing to file numerous campaign disclosure reports.

Several other board members failed to file various ethics reports, doing so only after a series of investigative reports by The Voice.

Elkins-Johnson issues statement

Elkins-Johnson, 51, turned herself in to the sheriff’s office on Jan. 31 and was charged with disorderly conduct. She was released on a $237.50 personal recognizance bond, and the next court date is scheduled for March 18, according to Richland County court records.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, Elkins-Johnson read a prepared statement, her first public remarks since Jan. 31.

In her statement, she apologized for “the language that I used” following the Jan. 22 board meeting, and also thanked friends and family for their support.

However, she also placed some blame on “the misconduct of others,” though she didn’t identify those people by name. She said her behavior after the meeting was out of character.

“When several people violated my space, it took me to an unfamiliar level, which I am not proud of as a servant leader and as a result I ask for your forgiveness,” Elkins-Johnson said.

“As always I have learned from this and will certainly use this as a teachable moment. Therefore, one moment out of my character does not and will not define me.”

Caution-Parker also addressed board behavior, saying all board members are responsible for their own actions.

“When we’re going to criticize a board member, take everybody into consideration, not just one,” Caution-Parker said. “We’re responsible for our passions, no matter what we do, no matter the circumstances. We are fully grown people and we are responsible for what we do and what we don’t do.”

Board member Teresa Holmes summed up her own comments with, “Let’s just all hold hands and say kumbaya.”

Board members mull policy

Those voting against the policy Tuesday night said it was too vague. McKie took issue with the phrase “for cause.”

Shadd III, who was fined $13,000 by the ethics commission in 2014, also took issue with the “for cause” terminology.

He suggested the policy proposal was reactionary, saying sanctions for legal troubles some board members face already exist in state law.

“What does ‘just cause’ mean?” Shadd III asked. “Failing to file reports with the ethics commission; there is a consequence to that. Failure to pay fines; there is a consequence to that.”

Caution-Parker said she would only support the policy revision if it went into effect July 1. She vehemently opposed any application of the policy that went into effect immediately.

“I have a major, major problem about how this all came about,” Caution-Parker said. “It’s almost like a mob mentality. Somebody did something, so we’re going to pass this.”

Manning said all policies the board has ever passed went into effect immediately upon approval and asked why this one should be different. He also disputed assertions that the policy targets anyone. He said it has many hypothetical applications, including absenteeism, misrepresentation or other actions.

“It’s made us review the policy and realize there’s a gap in the policy that needs to be addressed,” he said. “We have a gap that needs to be corrected, not a mob mentality about any individuals.”

Agostini emphasized the policy wasn’t designed to remove a member from the board, only to strip them of officer positions, which include chair, vice-chair and secretary.

“This policy is not removing somebody from the board,” she said.

Later in the meeting, Agostini read aloud an email from a constituent who expressed embarrassment over McKie’s ethics fines amid the recently approved $468 million bond referendum funding various school construction projects.

“How can I reasonably expect that our chairwoman can manage nearly a half billion dollar bond when she cannot manage a simple ethics filing,” Agostini said, reading from the letter.

Superintendent addresses ethics

In related matters, Dr. Baron Davis, district superintendent, acknowledged a blemish existed in his own ethics filings.

Reading from a prepared statement, Davis said shortly after his hiring in 2017, he was unfamiliar with an ethics commission requirement that superintendents file Statements of Economic Interest, or SEI, forms.

Davis said while filing his 2019 forms, he noticed that he didn’t file his 2018 form (for the 2017 year) within 10 days of officially becoming superintendent.

“I did not know that and I did not file. I admitted those things once I started overlooking the process of our filings,” he said. “After realizing my oversight I quickly alerted the commission who never contacted me about the oversight.”

Davis said he’s since filed an amended SEI form and paid a $100 fine.

“I share this information on my own free will and in an effort to remain transparent and honest in my community,” he said. “That’s something I wanted to share publicly so we can close the chapter and move forward with the day to day operations of this outstanding district.”


  1. Gus Philpott says

    The proposed policy was motivated by the failures of Board Chairwoman Amelia McKie. She failed to file numerous required documents with the S.C. Ethics Commission and is thumbing her nose at the Ethics Commission by not making any payment on her fines and penalties. The confrontation that resulted in Elkins-Johnson’s arrest has not been clearly reported by the media; actions and/or remarks that provoked Elkins-Johnson will, no doubt, be revealed at the trial.
    Board members Shadd, Holmes and Caution-Parker blinked. Each should have voted FOR the proposed policy. Shadd, an attorney, knows full well what “for cause” means. Holmes’ comment is worthless. Caution-Parker added “smoke” in the room with her “mob mentality” comment. McKie voted against it because it was aimed at her; she should have recused herself, although that would not have allowed the proposal to pass.

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