Richland 2

Richland 2 board member ripped for alleged threat

cclick@thestate.comNovember 5, 2013 

Richland 2 school board member Melinda Anderson was in a meeting with schools superintendent Debbie Hamm and others when she allegedly vented her frustration about her grandson’s football coach with these words: “I’m so angry I just want to kill the coach and I have a gun.”

But Anderson, a 23-year veteran of the school board, vehemently denies making the inflammatory statement about Westwood High School head football coach Rodney Summers, who she believed wasn’t allowing her grandson enough playing time on the field.

But the Oct. 7 incident sparked a report to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and notification of the statement to Summers, who said Tuesday night he had known that Anderson was upset with him. He said he had heard she had launched an investigation into why her grandson was spending time on the bench.

“She never once came and asked me,” said Summers, who described Anderson’s grandson as a “great kid” who simply wasn’t high up on the depth chart.

Summers said the incident was sobering but he was glad to be kept informed. “Nowadays, you can’t take anything like that lightly.”

No formal charges were filed, Sgt. Curtis Wilson, a Richland County Sheriff’s Department spokesman, said Tuesday. The report listed Hamm as the complainant and said neither Hamm nor Summers wished to prosecute.

Anderson confirmed Tuesday that Roosevelt Garrick Jr., the district’s chief human resource officer, was present at the meeting. He was listed as Roosevelt Garrett on the information report.

Anderson denied making the provocative statement about Summers and characterized the incident as a “bunch of foolishness” cooked up by some members of the Richland 2 administration to discredit her.

“I know what I said,” Anderson said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “My record has been impeccable and speaks for itself. You can’t fight untruths and I’m not going to lower my standards to do that.”

In a statement, Richland 2 board chairman Bill Flemming said, “On behalf of the board, I want to make it clear that we will not tolerate any employee being threatened or harassed in any manner. The board regrets the board member’s conduct did not reflect well on the board or the district.”

Flemming’s statement said the situation with the board member had been addressed, though no details were given, calling it a confidential personnel matter.

Flemming minced no words in describing the incident as “a situation with a board member who made a threatening remark about a district employee.” By state law, such incidents must be reported to law enforcement, he said.

Anderson, an outspoken member of the board, was first elected in 1990 and has been re-elected five times. She said Tuesday the incident would not prevent her from continuing to fulfill her term.

“I will continue to be a voice for our children,” she said. “God orders my steps, God protects me and God knows where my heart is.”

Summers said he’s turning his team’s attention to the upcoming high school football playoffs, where Westwood, which opened in 2011, will play for the first time.

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