Guest Editorial: Should the Richland District 2 School Board be Dissolved?

Should the State of South Carolina Department of Education dissolve the Richland 2 School Board?

That idea came to mind as I read the article in The State by Zak Koeske, published on April 18. Zak’s article described the interest of the S.C. DOE in taking over the boards of low-performing school districts.

Here’s why I think the S.C. DOE should be keeping a close eye on the Richland 2 School Board and why it should consider disbanding the school board of the Richland 2 School District.

Since November 13, 2018 the Richland 2 School Board has seated two women illegally. The two women have refused to take the oath of office legally; therefore, they are not legitimate members of the board.

The Board has condoned their illegitimacy for almost 2½ years! The remainder of the Board could have required them to take the oath of office legally. The remainder of the board (the five legal members) could have refused to allow the two women to be seated at the board until they took the oath of office legally. The legal members of the Board could have prohibited their attendance at executive sessions, could have prohibited their voting on board business including student discipline. The Board could have stopped paying them, stopped paying their expenses, stopped allowing them to represent the board. The Board could have elected one of the legitimate members as the District’s representative to the South Carolina School Boards Association (but it didn’t).

But the legal members of the Board did nothing.

Therefore, they are culpable and responsible for failing to act. They are failing in their duties and responsibilities to the taxpayers of the Richland 2 School District.

One or two of the legal board members may believe and agree that the two women do not belong on the board, but they are the minority of votes.

To become legal members of the Board, all they have to do is take the oath of office.

Each did take an oath of office on November 13, 2018, but each took it before she was legally eligible to take it. Neither had filed her Statement of Economic Interest Report (SEI) with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. Each filed her SEI on December 4, 2018. On the December 4 date, Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes first became eligible to take the oath of office.

According to South Carolina law, after you are elected, then you (1) file your SEI. Then you (2) take the oath of office, and then you (3) assume your office responsibilities. It’s as easy as that. 1-2-3.

You can’t do 2-3-1. At least, legally you cannot.

McKie or Holmes are usurping public office. This is a serious legal offense in the State of South Carolina.

Here’s what they will tell you.

“I am a legal board member.”

They are not.

“I haven’t done anything wrong.”

That’s not true.

“The Ethics Commission says I’m a legal board member.”

No, it hasn’t.

“Nobody told me about that.”

Surely, two people running for office should be able to read the rules for taking office.

The School Board refuses to address this issue in public session. The District takes a “holier than thou” position that it does not have to explain itself. Kind of reminds me of Nixon’s statement, “Trust me. I am not a crook.”

What say you? Should McKie and Holmes be blocked from continuing to act like School Board members until they take the oath of office?

As soon as they do take the oath, the School Board will then have to review every vote taken on and after November 13, 2018. The votes of McKie and Holmes will have to be removed. Some decisions will change. A 4-3 (passing) vote that includes McKie and Holmes voting For, will change to a 2-3 vote (failing). Some board meetings will not have a quorum (5 legal members) and business taken care of will be invalidated.

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