SC Board of Education members accused of illegal meeting at Waffle House

After a regular meeting of the Lexington-Richland 5 Board of Education last week, a majority of the seven boards reunited at the nearby Waffle House.

image Post to Facebook The dinner included Jan Hammond, Chairman of the Board, Ken Loveless, Vice Chairman, Nikki Gardner, Secretary, Catherine Huddle, Director, and Jondy Loveless, wife of two former Directors Kim Murphy and Loveless.

An online commenter pointed out that state law requires a fixed number of boards to present meetings when members discuss or act on public issues.What was pointed out Guidance issued by the SC School Boards Association A “general” breach of the requirements of a public meeting is “to have dinner at the board before and after the meeting and to negotiate at that point.”

Some were critical of Murphy’s existence, which arrived last year. Settlement with District in $ 10 Million Proceedings The district blamed Murphy’s opposition over the delay in the construction project. Murphy was on the board of education in 2013 when a fellow board member determined that she lived in Lexington County while she was elected to one of the board’s Richland County office locations. I left from.

Board members contacted by the state dismissed the criticism and explained that the instant supper was a purely sociable gathering.

Hammond said he expects a few members to come out and eat after the board breaks up relatively early at 9:30 pm on Monday. The minimum required to do business — to appear. The district’s business was not discussed and some members of the board brought their spouse.

“I thought it was a bit comical for someone to come and take a picture of us,” Hammond said. “Some of the members of the board waved at them.”

Loveless said he and his wife took advantage of the opportunity to share photos of their newborn grandchildren, rather than discussing board issues. Murphy happened to be in the same Waffle House, Loveless said.

“We didn’t do anything we shouldn’t do,” Loveless said. “Next time I’ll publish it in the newspaper, but it’s just boring.”

According to Gardner, board members meet on many occasions beyond formal meetings and are conscious of meeting the rules by doing so.

Hammond said he avoids participating in political debates on Facebook and feels that the majority of the board’s opposition is trying to gather more than justification.

“Some people just want to cause confusion,” she said. “They are then looking to make something, and it’s the people who lost the election … I want to focus on what we’re doing for our students. “

Board of Education control reversed in November elections After many years of defeat in a sometimes controversial race involving candidates from both Richland and Lexington counties. School board elections are nonpartisan, but the Lexington-Richland 5 board has been divided over the years by factions that disagree on district priorities and directions.

“If we thought we were doing something wrong, we would have got up and left,” Gardner said.

Bill Rogers, Secretary-General of the SC Press Association, said such gatherings would only violate the law if they included discussions about school operations. But he said the public would ultimately have to rely on the members involved to not raise the issue of the district.

“If they didn’t, it would be unnatural,” Rogers said. “Even if it isn’t, it’s dangerous because it can seem to circumvent the conferencing law. You shouldn’t do that.”