Kevin Fisher in 2018

Kevin Fisher

“Jay Bender, a leading media law attorney in South Carolina … described the school district’s attempt to get more than $10 million out of Kim Murphy as ‘governmental bullying.’” – The State, Feb. 5

Thank you, Jay, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

But I will pick it up from there to add that I think the Richland-Lexington School District 5 board is childish, vindictive and an embarrassment to the position they hold, the students they are supposed to serve and the idea that adults should set an example for children.

In the ongoing school district soap opera, here’s the latest as reported by The State:

“Former Lexington-Richland 5 board member Kim Murphy could soon be heading back to court to fight a legal claim by the district that she owes more than $10 million for improperly delaying an expansion of Chapin High School.”

While Murphy did delay the district with environmental objections to their building plans, the “improperly” part is very much a matter of opinion. Offering his, Bender said she had “raised legitimate concerns.”

In a 2011 story, The State reported that Murphy objected to filling some 250 yards of creek and adjacent wetlands, which ironically had been the site of the Chapin High Outdoor Education Center.

Built by students and funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the outdoor learning facility had trails, bridges and signs detailing trees and plants found in the forested creek bottom. But the school board wanted to fill it in to suit their plans.

Bender says the governmental bullying of Murphy that ensued “strikes me as exactly the kind of abuse of citizens that the Bill of Rights was made to protect against.”

Again, thank you Jay, for speaking truth to punks, er, power.

And punks they are, drunken ones at that. No, not the alcoholic kind, the power trip kind.

Indeed, it is their power trip that has the Richland-Lexington 5 board operating both out of control and outside the bounds of decency.

The attempts to intimidate and financially ruin Murphy for daring to challenge their plans through legal and regulatory channels that are available to any citizen make clear that the board’s sense of power far outweighs its sense of propriety.

Further, here’s a news flash for the school board: Kim Murphy doesn’t have $10 million. Accordingly, their lawsuit isn’t about seeking victory, but rather about seeking vengeance. Now there’s a fine lesson for the district’s students to learn from the adults who lead their school system.

While their lawsuit proceeds, perhaps board members should also take a tour of district schools and lead the kids in chanting “Don’t mess with us, we’ll ruin you. And after that, we’ll sue you too!”

Maybe they could even strap Murphy into a dunking booth and have the kids fire away at the lady who dared to challenge the almighty Richland-Lexington 5 board. No doubt a good time would be had by all.

I could go on, but I hope my point has been made. Specifically: members of the Richland-Lexington 5 board need to grow up and move on.

Good lord, they won. And even removed Murphy from the board in the process. Accept victory, drop the lawsuit and get on with educating students.

But if they don’t, parents should quickly and forcefully tell those elected officials to stop bullying Murphy, stop making their district look bad and stop teaching kids that vengeance is mine, sayeth the school board.

I believe a higher authority already laid claim to that position. Which is something those school board members might want to think about.

Fisher is president of Fisher Communications, a Columbia advertising and public relations firm. He is active in local issues involving the arts, conservation, business and politics. Let us know what you think: Email editor@free-times.com.

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