FLORENCE, S.C. — Florence One Schools board member Alexis Pipkins Sr. says he was attacked during an executive session.
Pipkins addressed the board Thursday during the public comment portion of a board meeting.
"I was attacked in an executive session," Pipkins said. "I don't recall anyone filling out a police report at that time. There were also attorneys seated at that table. If memory serves, law enforcement also came to inquire what was going on."
Pipkins said via text message that he was attacked by a board member during a Feb. 13 executive session.
That executive session was held to discuss Superintendent Richard O'Malley's evaluation. Ultimately, the board voted to change O'Malley's evaluation from satisfactory to very effective.
The original evaluation was originally voted on during a Jan. 30 board meeting. Pipkins and board member John Galloway voted against the final evaluation. Pipkins voted that he did not have any confidence in O'Malley.
At the February meeting, Pipkins said his vote of no confidence from the original evaluation remained the same after the evaluation was changed.
“My position remains the same; you’ve got some bully board members who manipulated the democratic process,” Pipkins said.
This is not the first time that Pipkins has accused a board member of attacking him.
In May 2019, Pipkins filled out a police report against board member Barry Townsend after the two had a dispute in the parking lot outside the district's offices. Pipkins said he feared for his safety, and Townsend said he had no intention of touching Pipkins. The matter was administratively closed by the Florence Police Department.
Pipkins also accused the board of ignoring his requests to place items on the agendas for discussion.
"This community has ingratiated you and given you the opportunity to serve and to lead and given you the opportunity for leading all of our children and all of our community," Pipkins said. "I have sat patiently and asked for things to be on this agenda. I want to give credit to the previous chairman [Townsend]. Many times we did not agree on things, but when things were asked to be place on the agenda, they were placed on the agenda."
Pipkins said the board is now practicing a process of shading the colors of the majority to dilute the minority opinion by not placing items on the agenda.
He said there have been numerous instances where the board has been approached by a community member, and the community member's concern never makes it to the agenda again.
Pipkins said he had asked for transportation to be placed on the agenda to make sure the district is following state law mandating care before and after school.
He also said the board had received a letter from a teacher at Delmae Heights Elementary School who alleged that the district had told employees not to report COVID-19 exposure. Pipkins said he could not sleep when he read the letter.
Florence One Schools Superintendent Richard O'Malley later said the district's No. 1 priority is the health and safety of its students and teachers.
Pipkins said he wanted the board to request an inquiry.
Pipkins also recently partnered with Next Is Now to host a community town hall regarding the district.
Pipkins said he was concerned about the teams the district put together for student reentry. He said he wanted to learn more about the group and who was on it.
He also said one local doctor said he approached the district about joining but had not heard from the board after some initial communication.
Christopher McCray of Next Is Now said the information gleaned from the town hall was eye-opening, especially that teachers weren't being directly consulted by the district on a proposed five-day option.
O'Malley said the district was trying to have those conversations happen at the building level between teachers and principals.
Two participants read the comments to the board at the meeting Thursday.
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