An outburst during the superintendent’s report led to one man being escorted from the first Columbia County school board meeting Tuesday of 2022.
“You’re having conversations about our conversations with him,” said Eric Feldkamp before the board. “I have twice had to point out that the school district is in misdemeanor violation of open records law in order for them to move forward.”
Feldkamp expressed his grievance while Superintendent Steven Flynt was presenting the superintendent report. School board Chairman David Dekle said that Feldkamp was out of order, and Feldkamp was ushered out of the meeting by campus police.
Feldkamp’s accusation was in response to a portion of Flynt’s address in which the superintendent noted that the school district’s administration had received more than 60 open records requests, in correspondences comprised of over 10,000 emails, addressing over a half million items, documents and attachments.
He further stated that five individuals were responsible for the emails, but he did not name them. Flynt suggested the possibility of increasing staffing to tend such large volumes of requests, in order to comply with open records law.
Flynt addressed various related concerns that have been raised by parents in recent months, many of them regarding an enduring, overarching unease with the prospect of critical race theory being included in school curriculums. Flynt emphasized the school district’s accordance with the State Board of Education’s resolution, passed June 3, 2021, to not include critical race theory concepts and standards in the curriculum.
“Since that time in June and October and even very recently, we’ve seen an effort by some to link many other programs and specific phrases and words to these movements,” said Flynt. “I’ll once again suggest that we all be very cautious to denounce specific terms before knowing how we use it apply them in our local school district.”
Flynt mentioned the terms “diversity,” “equity” and “inclusion;” “social-emotional learning,” an education practice focused on developing social and emotional skills; and “Panorama,” a platform for assessing student behavior and progress, which Flynt described as a “comprehensive behavior intervention program” that the district ultimately decided not to use.
“I would suggest that if and when we hear concerns or rhetoric that are broadly directed toward towards what we might call public education systems that we take the time to ask, what and how does this apply here in the Columbia County School District,” he said.