R2 Black Parents Association grades board incumbents

COLUMBIA – The Richland Two Black Parents Association (BPA) has released their School Board Candidates Report Card for the 2020 elections. The Report Card evaluates incumbents only, based on their past service on the board.

Lindsay Agostini got an across-the-board A and high praise from the BPA for her knowledge about the work of the board and her willingness to challenge the status quo and not ‘go along to get along.’ Dr. Monica Elkins received a B+ for her commitment, but members of the BPA said her exuberance has caused some parents pause. The board’s current chair, James Jamie Shadd, was given an NI (Needs Improvement) for his four years on the board, with no recommendation for a second term.

Here is the BPA’s perspective on the incumbent candidates’ records and platforms, as well as a cumulative score based on how members feel the incumbent candidates have addressed the issues.

Lindsay Agostini

Initially, when Ms. Agostini ran for school board in Richland School District Two, many black parents were concerned. The concern was about her level of understanding education holistically. However, we have watched her grow significantly over the last 4 years! It was obvious that being on the school board in Richland Two was a very different experience for her, as she had been a very involved parent in the district for some time. During Ms. Agostini’s first term, she spent time learning the issues, getting to know the community, and challenging the status quo. It became apparent to us that Ms. Agostini’s commitment was to the betterment of the school board and school district as a whole. She demonstrated this commitment by fighting for fairness and transparency. She has not played the game of “go along to get along” but has been willing to stand alone. Ms. Agostini has impressed us as a leader with her advocacy and voice for students, parents, teachers and taxpayers. She has boldly and rightfully questioned the policies of the administration. She has grown into a premiere board member and she undoubtedly deserves 4 more years.

Dr. Monica Elkins

Dr. Elkins has been on the school board for two consecutive terms. Dr. Elkins has always been a fighter for students, parents and teachers. She fully understands the complexities of education. She has demonstrated the ability to empathize and provide contextual understanding as a leader on the board. She has often been a lone voice for children and parents during her tenure. In her exuberance for children and families she has been overzealous at times. Dr. Elkins exuberance has caused some parents pause, yet not enough to doubt her commitment to the children and families in the district. We believe Dr. Elkin’s consistent and strong leadership garners her an opportunity to serve for an additional four more years.

 James Jamie Shadd

The annual Richland School District Report Card from the Richland 2 Black Parents Association is always a synopsis of what parents have gleaned from their current school board members. Mr. Shadd ran for school board without a clear agenda. He was elected and assiduously became Chairman of a contentious board. What does he really stand for? While he has been open to answering questions from parents, his actions to follow up or do anything substantive and hard has been questioned. Mr. Shadd seems to exalt himself as a community leader and he’s actively involved in many community activities which led us to question if he was actually going to seek office again. Mr. Shadd’s “mission” work seems to be more important to him than guiding and really leading a premier school district like Richland Two. It’s our opinion that Mr. Shadd should exert more of a voice that challenges the district, rather than “rubber stamp” all its actions. Therefore, our opinion on Mr. Shadd is… you decide!

The BPA’s conclusions were made after polling and surveying its membership as well as feedback from this year’s candidate forum and from personal conversations with the various candidates.