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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

School District Of Pickens County May Ask Children To Verbally Refuse Tests After Parental Letters ...

Today it was confirmed to me by Wanda Davis of the SC. Dept of Education that it is NOT the State’s mandate that the SC Ready Test be placed in front of the child on the testing dates and that the child has to verbally refuse the test. 
This means that Superintendent Danny Merck has lied to me.

He sent me the following message when I inquired about why the schools were telling parents in Pickens that their child will have to verbally refuse the test and their parental letter of intent to refuse on behalf of their child is not enough.
"At present, SC requires its schools to administer certain tests to students, and our state does not have a formal “opt-out” provision. From time to time, we do have students who refuse to test. Refusing to test is different from opting-out of testing. Districts must make an attempt to test all students who are required to take state tests. If the student is present at school the day of the test or during the testing window, we must attempt to test. The SCDE has told us that we would have to offer the assessment to the student. Offering the assessment means that the assessment must be put in front of the student for an attempt to test. SDPC would deal with a refusal to test in the least disruptive way possible by handling each case individually based on the circumstances. In some cases, a student may be moved to an alternate location while in other cases the student may have to quietly remain in the testing site. The school administration and testing coordinator will have to make that call based on the availability of staff members for monitoring students and administering the test. Like the email Ms. Raines received from the state said, it may not be possible for a school to provide instruction during that time due to constraints with their staffing and duties. 

Please note that students who refuse to test will be not receive a score for the assessment. It is important to note that in the case of High School End-of-Course Exams, the state test accounts for 20% of a student’s final grade and without that score, the final grade would be impacted."

Not only did the Superintendent lie to me …it is my opinion they are breaking the Safe Schools Act that was passed back during Gov. Mark Sanford’s term. Which states, 

Since students learn by example, school administrators, faculty, staff, and volunteers should be commended for demonstrating appropriate behavior, treating others with civility and respect, and refusing to tolerate harassment, intimidation, or bullying.”  

I have contacted a law firm for advice.

submitted by: Johnnelle Raines 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Notes from the April 2016 COTU Meeting ...

Our meeting last night was a real good one. It featured two candidates: Tim Morgan for Sheriff and Allen Quinn for The District 2 Senate seat currently held by Larry Martin. Before we get into last night's meeting, I want to praise our group for the presentations that were made at the meeting to save our schools.  Johnnelle Raines led off the meeting with an impassioned speech on "who is the boss of your children, you or the schools".  Of course we at the Conservatives of the Upstate believe that our parents must be charge and a good way to show who is in charge is to refuse the ungodly tests that are being demanded of our children.  She also made a strong case against parents for not attending these meetings after displaying such anger and emotion when the School Board conducted their Delphi Technique loaded meetings.  Also donations for a lawyer have been slow and need to pick up so we can achieve our goal of $7,500.  You see, we are trying to do something real while the School Board is playing tricks a smoke and mirrors game.  They have already made a bunch of personnel moves to close these schools, so the faster we get the money for an attorney, the faster we can let them know we won't tolerate this plan of ignoring the people's wishes.  Congratulations Johnnelle and thank you from those of us who know how hard you have worked to save these schools.

Then there was Deana McAnulty who reported expertly on the new Charter school that is to be built in Easley. It is to be called Clearview Collegic Academy.  Deana pointed out that a student wishing to go to college could achieve 60 credit hours of college work in Clearview which would put them nearly half way through college and save the parents a tremendous amount of money, and that these credits are acceptable to both Clemson and Carolina and all other state universities and colleges.  Deana also reported that Clearview would supply an excellent sports program, and that many of their students at the other two schools in Columbia and Charleston had many students to earn scholarships.  Sports are not a requirement though.  The academic schedules for students could be in the morning or the afternoon and that generally the students that participate in sports would get their academic work in the morning while those not in sports do their academic work in the afternoon.  School would be available from 6 through the 12th grades.  Emphasis will be placed on the business model.  Thanks Deana for you covering both of the charter school meetings and presenting a great report.

Don Joslyn presented the progress made in hiring an attorney to sue the school board for various violations of constitutional and statutory laws.  We need to thank Don for his diligence in this endeavor, and it is our hope that we will prevail over this tyranny of school closings in court since the School Board will not listen to the people.  Thanks very much Don.

The meeting with candidates was begun with Tim Morgan.  He described his background and experience with the former sheriff, David Stone.  He emphasized that he believed in the team approach to the job he was running for.  He spent several minutes explaining his plan for implementing his idea of the approach, which got a warm reception for the audience. He explained his position on a new jail, which he said would probably be needed down the road, but first the judicial system needed to be corrected by the General Assembly so that the constitution could be lived up to on timeliness of trials.  He was not sure exactly what would be the course of action, but that it would be cheaper to hire another prosecutor and maybe a defending attorney than it would be to build another jail right now.  This would take care of the overcrowding.  He said that the sewage system in the current jail needs to be redone because it was made out of terracotta pipe and continually had to be worked on.  There were too many other items that were discussed to write here, but it was a very productive meeting.  I am sure Tim would be glad to discuss his candidacy with you over the phone.  Thanks Tim for coming and sharing your thoughts with us.

Next, we heard from Allen Quinn, Candidate for the District 2 Senate Seat.  He told us about himself. He is from Easley, loves animals and had been very active in rodeo in the area.  He was in textiles for a period and was very sorry that the industry and all its jobs had left Pickens County for good.  He was critical of the current General Assembly and our local politicians for not doing a better job of securing jobs for the people of Pickens County.  He had a plan to help correct this problem if he is elected.  Another one of his plans was to fix the road maintenance without raising taxes by creating some fairness in the way money was being allocated in Columbia and eliminating waste and fraud.  He believes that politicians in Columbia should follow the constitution of this state, and the federal government as they have taken an oath to do so.  He believes that the constitution should be followed in funding our schools and spending the money taken in which is not happening now. Mr. Quinn spoke of other things and he would be glad to discuss them with you.  Thanks to Mr. Quinn for coming to speak with us.

Any candidate that would like to come to our May meeting the second Thursday in May at 6:30 PM at the Blue Ridge Bible Church at 769 Belle Shoals Road is welcome.  We will give everyone an equal chance to speak and answer questions.  

Just call 868-9298 and ask for Junius Smith.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

April 2016 COTU Meeting ...

Just a reminder that Conservatives of the Upstate has an important meeting at 6:30PM

Blue Ridge Bible Church
769 Belle Shoals Rd.
Pickens SC 29671

 There will be two candidates speaking and answering questions.  They are Tim Morgan, candidate for Sheriff and former Assistant Sheriff under David Stone and Allen Quinn, citizen, who is running for the Senate seat in Pickens County.  

Please come and find out where these two candidates stand on the issues.

Junius Smith

Excerpts from School District Protest & Legal Action Meeting:

Fox Carolina featured excerpts from Pickens County School District protest:

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Pickens County Council in charge or the United Nations?

My understanding was the Pickens County Comprehensive Plan was shelved and was not ever approved. But yet the County Council is getting ready to amend it. Pickens County Taxpayer Association and Conservatives of the Upstate members vehemently opposed the Comprehensive Plan several years ago, as it is a danger to Pickens County citizenry’s rights.

By amending this supposedly “shelved plan”…does this make it valid now?

Both PCTA and COTU have spoken numerous times on our disapproval of any Comprehensive Plan that weakens citizenry’s rights especially in the area of property rights. There was objectionable language in the plan that we brought attention to several years ago.

The council members are our only defense against this United Nations Agenda 21 of developing “comprehensive plans.” By passing this amendment, I am assuming the plan now is being taken off the shelf and given teeth.

I oppose taking this Comprehensive Plan off the shelf along with Conservatives of the Upstate members. We were assured it didn't have any teeth and just sat on a shelf...

Council’s number one priority should be protecting Pickens’ citizenry’s rights…and I truly understand the safety issue of the coal ash. But by amending the plan …I fear this gives the "shelved plan" teeth for misuse by other forces such as HUD and the EPA as well as non-governmental groups like Ten at the Top and Upstate Forever, etc…to have ammo to further their agenda.

Sustainable development encompasses every aspect of our lives and its goal is social equity. It is a political movement to replace capitalism with government control of EVERYTHING!  It is a relentless attack of property rights and freedom.

Please ask our council to be vigilant on what they are about to do by opening the door to this document by amending it. Taking it off the it new life.  The United Nations, EPA, and HUD are watching I am sure to gain footholds wherever they can.

Are we not sovereign? Do we truly want to open the door to the United Nations dictating the guidelines of what we can grow, eat, where we can live, the method of transportation we use to get to work, what jobs we can have, how many children we can have, and what kind of education our children can have?

Written by Johnnelle Raines

Pickens County Residents Weigh Lawsuit Against School District ...

"We operate in Pickens County on fear," said Johnnelle Raines, a Pickens County resident and organizer of the meeting. "It's tyranny. They just wanted you to think you had some input. They thumbed their nose to the will of the people to keep those schools open."

As a way to fight back against the school district, Raines is asking parents to opt out of the standardized testing given in schools. As a former teacher, she said she saw the effects of pressure of standardized testing on students, teachers and administrators.

"What a child knows and doesn't know should be qualified over a whole year based on a series of tests, not just one test at the end of the year," Raines said. "Some teachers recognize this, but they have their hands tied. Parental right is something that is needed. Schools will tell you they are required to administer the tests, but they don't have the right force the child to take the test."

Read the full article here:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
                             ~ Isaiah 40:31 

Monday, April 4, 2016

April 2016 COTU Meeting ...

Conservatives of the Upstate will have two guest speakers for its April meeting. Tim Morgan, candidate for Pickens County Sheriff, and Allan Quinn, candidate for the SC Senate District 2 seat, will explain their positions to the group and anyone who cares to attend the meeting. 

Mr. Morgan served as Assistant Sheriff under former Sheriff David Stone. 

Mr. Quinn is a local business man in the Easley area. Both men are running for their respective offices in the upcoming Republican primary on June 14, 2016.  

The public is invited to attend the meeting and encouraged to ask the candidates questions. 

The meeting will be held on Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 6:30 PM. 

The location is:
Blue Ridge Bible Church
769 Belle Shoals Rd
Pickens SC 29671.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Notes about the April 2016 County Council Meeting ...

Just a reminder:  The County Council will meet Monday at 6:30PM.  The budget for 2016-17 will get its first reading.  You need to understand that there is a new jail being considered and God knows how much the Council will want  to spend on that.  The way I read the SC Constitution is that Pickens County can borrow 8% of the value of the property in Pickens County, but some people on the Council believe that every political subdivision in the county can borrow the 8%.  This would mean another $35 or so million dollars the County can borrow.  Mind you: There are some balloon payments coming due on the new school construction.  Seeing these facts and conditions, it is recognized that the County Council used to be responsible for all school buildings and new construction, so the intent of the law was to allow only 8%.  So 16 % plus balloon payments, if any, would mean a large tax increase.   The cities could then add 8% under this thinking for a total of 24% of bonded indebtedness. The Council has seen fit to spend lots of money on recreation that does not benefit the citizens in the county but only those that live in the cities.

Another factor involving the construction of a jail is that the cities use the county jail and pay a fee that does not meet expenses and construction costs.  In my opinion, there should be a calculation to see how much each entity has used the facilities over the past five years or so and the cities should pay for that much of the new construction with the county paying for county housing only.  There is no incentive for the cities to reduce crime when they can send the problem to the County and for a fee get rid of the problem.

The judicial system in Pickens County has been a failure in moving out inmates for trial.  This is costing Pickens County a fortune and is unconstitutional in that people accused of a crime should be expeditiously tried under the 6th Constitutional amendment.

My last comment is that all these taxes have impeded the economic growth of Pickens County, and there has been very little economic growth over the past 5 years.  The school population has grown so little that some schools are now being closed for lack of population of students.

Please come and make your thoughts known.

Junius Smith
President, Conservatives of the Upstate

Monday April 4, 2016 6:30PM
 County Admin Building / Auditorium
222 McDaniel Ave
Pickens Sc 29671

Friday, April 1, 2016

Easley Rep Neal Collins Proposes Vague Bill About "Imposter LegalRepresentation" ...

South Carolina General Assembly
121st Session, 2015-2016

H. 5036
General Bill
Sponsors: Reps. Goldfinch, J.E. Smith, Bannister, Fry, Johnson, Jordan, Horne, Stavrinakis, McCoy, Murphy, Collins, Clemmons, Bernstein, Brannon, Norrell, Atwater, Newton, Cole, Delleney, Hicks, Pope, G.M. Smith and Weeks

The dangerous aspect of this bill?

Most of the representatives (including Collins) are attorneys. What they'd love to see is you scared to challenge them or any politician's illegal activities because you're afraid of this law or afraid you couldn't afford an attorney in order to be compliant with this law. You have a first amendment right to "redress your grievances with the government". That should be read as "any peaceable means necessary to counteract government tyranny or undue burden". Legal action is a peaceable means. One does not have to have a lawyer to travel to court. One can represent themselves Pro Se (meaning "representing self).

Another intimidating component to this bill is that it could catch you on a technicality. While an attorney would likely be excused from court technicalities and allowed to correct their mistakes, one representing themselves Pro Se likely would be fined or found in violation of this law were it to be signed.

"Section 16-17-770.    It is unlawful for a person other than a lawyer, who is licensed to practice law in this State or in another state or jurisdiction in the United States and not disbarred or suspended from the practice of law in any state or jurisdiction, to represent to any person that he is a lawyer for the purpose of soliciting business, obtaining anything of value, or providing legal advice or assistance.