A Richland District 2 board member has filed a harassment complaint against a citizen who has made several public comments at board meetings about ethics violations involving members of the board of trustees.
The harassment complaint was filed with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department against Blythewood resident Gus Philpott, who has called for some board members to resign from office.
It’s a continuation of a drama that has embroiled the school board for almost three months.
Philpott says he went to the sheriff’s office March 21 after he was notified of the complaint and spoke with deputies who asked for “his side of the story.” After the meeting he was told no charges would be filed against him.
He says records he examined identified board member Teresa Holmes as the person who filed the complaint.
Philpott says he has not approached Holmes “several times” at board meetings as she has alleged. He says he did approach her once at the March 12 meeting and spoke to her. A security officer was standing by at the time.
He also says he has not been sending her a lot of harassing emails, as she contends. He says all of his emails have been group messages sent to the entire board.
Philpott has called for Holmes and board chair Amelia McKie to resign their posts for failing to file Statements of Economic Interest (SEI) as required by state law.
“Having not filed, they should not take office, as both were not properly elected,” Philpott said at the March 12 board meeting.
Holmes later responded that no one advised her to file an SEC. When she was told about the requirement, she filed the document.
“I am in good standing,” she said.
Philpott contends that any votes taken by Holmes and McKie should be revisited because of their failure to meet legal requirements to hold office.
Libby Roof, chief communications officer for Richland 2, says the board has conferred with legal counsel about the allegations.
“The district has been advised by legal counsel that actions taken by the board are valid under these circumstances,” she says.
McKie made headlines earlier this year when it was revealed that she owed more than $50,000 in ethics fines for failing to file campaign disclosure reports. Several other board members were also late filing SEI forms or campaign disclosure reports.
Another controversy surrounds the board’s vice chair, Monica Elkins-Johnson, who was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after heated confrontations with Erica Davis, the sister of Sen. Mia McLeod, and McKie’s husband, Stacy McKie, following the Jan. 23 board meeting. She was released on bond and is awaiting a court hearing.