Letter: R2 Zaps Public Comment

The Richland 2 School Board stuck it to the voters, taxpayers, parents, staff and students on May 12, when it voted to suspend Board Policy BEDH – Public Participation at Meetings. Not suspend it temporarily, as Amelia McKie explained. There was no “temporarily” about it. They voted 6-1 to suspend it. That means it is no longer in effect.

Member Lindsay Agostini offered City of Columbia’s alternative that would still allow public comment during board meetings that are online. She explained the “meeting portal” (https://columbiacitysc.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx) that the City of Columbia has opened.

BEDH allowed the public to speak at board meetings. No more. BEDH allowed the public to suggest items for board consideration. No more. The Richland 2 Board suspended BEDH at the suggestion and encouragement of the S.C. School Boards Assn. Who runs the Richland 2 District? The SCSBA? No, the elected school board does. At least, it ought to.

When “temporary” was not part of the Motion, why would McKie say the suspension is temporary? Was that an attempt to mislead the public? Why didn’t the Chairman clarify before the vote that the suspension would NOT be temporary?

Trustee Elkins-Johnson wanted the suspension only through the end of the summer, but she gave up easily when she wasn’t supported. Trustee Lindsay Agostini was the only school member to vote NO. Thank you, Lindsay, for sticking up for the voters and taxpayers.

Gus Philpott

NE Columbia