Richland 2 school board chairman Bill Flemming said he hopes the public censure of board member Melinda Anderson will put an end to the controversy that began in October when Anderson allegedly was heard making threatening statements about a head football coach in the district.
The board voted 5-2 Tuesday to censure Anderson, after Flemming read a statement in which he said the board considers itself compromised and must address the matter. Barbara Specter made the motion to censure Mrs. Anderson for her words and actions referenced in her statement, which was seconded by board member Susan Brill.
I think this gave us the opportunity to make another statement and move on, Brill said Wednesday. It was a very unfortunate series of events.
Anderson and board member Monica Elkins-Johnson cast the two no votes. Efforts to reach Anderson Wednesday were unsuccessful, while Elkins-Johnson declined comment in an email.
The board had reprimanded Anderson after she vented frustration about her grandsons football coach, Rodney Summers of Westwood High School, allegedly by saying, Im so angry I just want to kill the coach and I have a gun. She was in a meeting with Richland 2 superintendent Debbie Hamm, who reported the incident to the Richland County Sheriffs Department.
Anderson apparently was upset that her grandson wasnt getting enough playing time on the field. Anderson, who has served for 23 years on the board, has denied making the inflammatory statement, and characterized the outcry as a bunch of foolishness.
Three weeks later, on Oct. 30, Westwoods school resource officer was called to the football field after Summers learned Anderson had sent someone to observe his afternoon football practice.
No charges resulted in either incident, but the widespread public outcry led Flemming to issue the first statement Nov. 5 reprimanding Anderson and distancing the board from Andersons actions.
Mondays statement was more emphatic.
While describing Anderson as a compassionate person who has served this district for many years, Flemming said the community concern and media coverage has warranted this action.
The board discussed these incidents with Ms. Anderson present on more than one occasion, in an effort to work through these issues with her, the statement read. This is not about a coach or his staff but about ownership of actions by a board member and the fallout it produced.
He said he received telephone calls, letters and emails about the incidents, none defending Andersons actions. By state law, such alleged incidents must be reported to law enforcement, he said.
They wanted to know what we were going to do as a board, he said Wednesday.
Flemming said Tuesdays formal motion was aimed at laying the situation to rest.
Basically, we just responded to the latest event, Flemming said. Our goal was to bring this to closure and that is what we felt we did.
Andersons labeling of the incident as untruths prompted Flemming to respond in the statement: We can fight against the untruths that dismiss these significant incidents as foolishness. We can fight for our code of ethics. We can fight to protect District employees from interference, harassment and threats by school board members.