December 11, 2013

Richland 2 school board censures Anderson

The Richland 2 school board censured board member Melinda Anderson Monday night for an October incident in which she was heard making threatening statements about a head football coach in the district.

Board chairman Bill Flemming made the motion to censure Anderson, reading a statement in which he said the board “considers itself compromised and must address the matter.”

The board, meeting in their regular monthly meeting, approved the motion by a 5-2 vote, with Anderson and Monica Elkins-Johnson voting no.

The motion follows an incident that occurred on October 7. Anderson was in meeting with Richland 2 schools superintendent Debbie Hamm when she allegedly vented frustration about her grandson’s football coach, Rodney Summers of Westwood High School, by saying, "I’m so angry I just want to kill the coach and I have a gun."

Anderson was apparently upset that her grandson wasn't getting enough playing time on the field.

Anderson, who has served for 23 years on the board, has denied making the inflammatory statement, and characterizing the outcry as a “bunch of foolishness.” But Hamm apparently considered the threat serious enough to warrant a report to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.

Three weeks later, on Oct. 30, Westwood’s 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 a statement Nov. 5 reprimanding Anderson and distancing the board from Anderson’s actions.

Monday’s 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.

“This is not about a coach or his staff but about ownership of actions by a board member and the fallout it produced,” the statement read.

Anderson’s 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.”

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