Mia McLeod and Joel Lourie on Spring Valley protest

Joel Lourie shared this exchange with me from over the weekend — two messages from Mia McLeod and one from him…

Rep. McLeod sent this to Sen. John Scott at 12:24 p.m. on Friday:

Senator Scott,

As you know, we are still dealing with an increasingly volatile situation at Spring Valley High School (SVHS).

From what I’m seeing on social media, in conjunction with the calls and texts I’ve received, school administrators obviously allowed some students to stage a “walk-out” in protest to Officer Fields’ firing.

Students on both sides of the issue are extremely passionate about their very different perspectives and of course, opinions and perspectives are not limited to students, parents and community members of SVHS.

As social media continues to reveal, this latest “protest” is likely to escalate already growing tensions that have been caused by Monday’s incident.

If students at SVHS and other Richland Two schools decide to do likewise, this could become a real issue for Richland Two and us.

In fact, as SVHS and Ridge View prepare to play tonight at Spring Valley, we need to understand that tensions are high and could easily play out at school events like this.

I’ve copied Richland Two so that they can advise us about District Two’s position on this and why  school administrators are approving and/or allowing any types of protests. Shouldn’t protests of any kind also be considered disruptive, since these students are missing and causing others to miss, valuable instruction? I’m concerned that this sets a very dangerous precedent.

What are we collectively planning to do about it?


Then, later on Friday, she sent this to Scott and other members of the Richland County Legislative Delegation:

From: Mia McLeod [mailto:mia@mcleodbutler.com]
Sent: Friday, October 30, 2015 2:03 PM
To: John L. Scott, Jr.
Cc: Jimmy Bales; Rep. Bales; Nathan Ballentine; Beth Bernstein; Rep. Beth Bernstein; Christopher R. “Chris” Hart; House 3M Committee; Leon Howard; Rep. Kirkman Finlay; Rep. MaryGail Douglas; MaryGail Douglas; Joseph A “Joe” McEachern; Joseph H “Joe” Neal; Rep. Rutherford; Rep. Smith; Sen Thomas McElveen, III; Senate Education Committee; Sen. Jackson; Joel Lourie; Thomas McElveen; JAMES BROWN; Kim Janha; Amelia B. McKie; James Manning; Cheryl Caution Parker;craig@craigplank.com; Susan Brill; Monica Elkins-Johnson; Calvin Chip Jackson; Debbie Hamm
Subject: Re: Spring Valley Protest

It has also come to my attention via calls and social media, that apparently, there is video footage of today’s student protest and that an SVHS Administrator is seen on that video, addressing the group of protestors and assuring them that they are not in trouble for protesting (or “disturbing schools” during the school day) and that their voices have been heard.

Can someone from Richland Two please speak to this?

I can’t imagine that the school or the District would knowingly endorse or condone this type of activity, since it clearly presents a double-standard, among other things, that is totally opposite of the school’s/district’s position concerning Monday’s incident.

Some could easily argue that the violently ejected student was also exercising her rights to protest by “sitting-in” and refusing to leave when asked by school officials. Both forms of protests should fall within the purview of “disturbing schools” when it comes to the impact on their (and other students’) classroom instruction. So why are there two extremely different outcomes?

Am I the only one who is concerned?

Sent from my iPhone

You may wonder at this point what she thought the legislative delegation, of all entities, should be doing about a walkout at a school. In his response sent on Saturday morning, Sen. Lourie seems to have wondered the same thing:

Subject: RE: Spring Valley ProtestSenator Scott, Representative McLeod, Members of the Delegation and School Board, 

This has been a very difficult week for our Richland Two Community.   Certainly the unfortunate and unnecessary actions of the School Resource Officer warrant further review of the appropriate use of officers in the classroom. I am sure there will be other policies and procedures to review as well.  We  hope and pray that the young lady involved will heal both emotionally and physically.  As a graduate of Richland Two, the parent of 2 graduates, and one of the Senators representing the area, I have been very tuned in to the events at Spring Valley and would like to offer a few comments.


Regarding Friday’s demonstration, I spoke with James Manning, Chairman of the School Board, and Dr. Debbie Hamm, the Superintendent. It is my understanding that the administration found out yesterday morning about a planned “walk-out” in support of Officer Fields.  In summary, a diverse group of approximately 100 students conducted a brief 5-10 minute peaceful “walk-out” and promptly returned to their school activities.  A good account of this can be found in this morning’s State Newspaper by clicking here: http://www.thestate.com/news/local/article41935716.html.  The videos included are also worth watching.


Personally, I see no problem with allowing students to peacefully express their opinions.  I think peaceful demonstrations are critical to our democracy, and what separates us as Americans from other countries.  The alternative of letting that tension boil inside these young students would be more destructive.  My opinion may or may not be shared with others.  However, I see no role that the legislative delegation should play in setting school board policy.  The school board is elected by the public, and therefore accountable to them as well.


I am proud of how our Sheriff and School Board and District Administration leaders have handled this week with great sensitivity.  The Sheriff moved quickly to return to Columbia from a conference and made a personnel decision within 48 hours of the incident.  The Administration and the Board have very transparent, strong and impressive in their actions to respond to the incident.  We as elected officials should rally together to look for positive ways to move forward.  Our state and community have been tested many times this year, and thus far, we have become better and stronger as a result.


Joel Lourie

28 thoughts on “Mia McLeod and Joel Lourie on Spring Valley protest

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    I called Sen. Lourie a few minutes ago and asked him how Rep. McLeod had responded to his response.

    He sent me this:

    From: Mia McLeod [mailto:mia@mcleodbutler.com]
    Sent: Saturday, October 31, 2015 10:36 AM
    To: Joel Lourie
    Cc: John L. Scott, Jr.; Jimmy Bales; Rep. Bales; Nathan Ballentine; Beth Bernstein; Rep. Beth Bernstein; Christopher R. Chris Hart; House 3M Committee; Leon Howard; Rep. Kirkman Finlay; Rep. MaryGail Douglas; MaryGail Douglas; Joseph A Joe McEachern; Joseph H Joe Neal; Rep. Rutherford; Rep. Smith; Sen Thomas McElveen, III; Senate Education Committee; Sen. Jackson; Thomas McElveen; JAMES BROWN; Kim Janha; Amelia B. McKie; James Manning; Cheryl Caution Parker; craig@craigplank.com; Susan Brill; joellourie@gmail.com; Monica Elkins-Johnson; Calvin Chip Jackson; Debbie Hamm
    Subject: Re: Spring Valley Protest

    I respectfully disagree with you, Senator Lourie. But, thank you for speaking on behalf of Richland Two and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.

    There’s a difference between trying to set school district policy and inquiring about the disparate impact of existing policies as enforced by the District on Monday and Friday. I was seeking to do the latter.

    The school board is accountable to the people of Richland Two, and to the extent that certain members of this delegation share those constituents, so are we.

    As a parent of a Richland Two grad and a current Richland Two student, I hope we can work together to ensure the safety, well-being and equal treatment of all of our students.

    If Richland Two could speak to the questions and concerns posed, I would certainly appreciate it.

    1. Barry

      Ms. McLeod, it seems to me, is trying to stir up resentment for the sake of stirring things up. That wouldn’t be the first time. It’s not very responsible. It certainly won’t solve any real problems.

      Senator Lourie’s email made sense – and of course anyone comparing what the student did in creating problems for her teacher, classmates, and an administrator to a 10 minute “walk out” where students returned to their classes when told to by the principal is purposefully trying to cause tension.

      I am sure Ms. McLeod and Mr. Scott don’t like it, but the truth is that a very diverse group of Spring Valley High School students support and like former officer Fields.

    2. Barry

      Btw- Brad- Ms. McLeod is pretty much a flamethrower. If you read her twitter feed, she’s very quick to jump to conclusions on all sorts of things (demanding answers immediately, etc)

      Not very professional for an elected rep.

  2. Bryan Caskey

    “Some could easily argue that the violently ejected student was also exercising her rights to protest by “sitting-in” and refusing to leave when asked by school officials.” -Mia McLeod

    And some (if not all) could easily refute that bird-brain argument.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      The violently ejected student was first asked by a teacher to stop an activity. She refused to comply. After awhile, an administrator was brought in. Still she refused to comply. Eventually, after refusing to comply with an administrator, law enforcement was brought in. She refused to go quietly. She was forcibly removed.

      Let’s go to the walk-out: About a hundred students walked out of class on Friday. They were told by an administrator to go back to class….and they complied – the whole episode lasted about 10 minutes.

    2. Bryan Caskey

      By the way, the “right to protest” carries with it the inherent consequence of getting arrested. That’s actually kinda the point. You’re getting arrested to show that a law is unjust and you’re willing to suffer the consequence of being arrested rather than comply with the law.

      Perhaps someone can ‘splain to me the injustice that the student was “protesting”. Oh right, the rule against having your cell phone in class. Yeah, that sounds like something Gandhi and MLK were all about. The right to play on your cell phone in school sounds like a great cause. Maybe Ms. McLeod can make that part of her campaign next time ’round.

      1. JesseS

        Yes, but in her eyes the students who walked out might as well be gun toting Red Shirts circling the stands on horseback demanding “equal time” to steal away the voice of the oppressed. They are agents of unseen, malevolent forces. They are THE White Supremacy. In the age of the Internet that sentiment easily gains traction and spreads to the national level in minutes, not hours.

    3. Barry

      Ms. McLeod doesn’t think things out too clearly. That’s what happens when you use illogical thoughts to make a point.

      The right of students to continue talking on their cell phone in class while the teacher pleads with them to put it away so as to not disturb others is obviously an important right to Ms. McLeod.

    4. Kathryn Fenner

      All right, I’ll jump in, without the pejoratives.
      The walk-out was a kind of speech—-sending a protest message through action. They could also have written letters or carried posters. The original student, I suppose, could be argued to also have been staging a sit-in—the validity of the “action/inaction as speech” doesn’t turn on the content of the speech. She could also have written a letter, but the extrinsic evidence suggests she had some family issues she was having an emotional response to, rather than that she was trying to convey any message.

      1. Barry

        pejoratives are ok. Ms. McLeod – and 99.9% of politicians are pretty quick to use them.

        I am not sure the evidence suggests anything.

        Family issues? Maybe.
        Just didn’t want to listen to the teacher? Maybe
        Both? Maybe

        1. Bryan Caskey

          Dear Barry:

          You’re doing it all wrong by trying to use evidence and logic. Just do what everyone else is doing, and rush to a judgment that supports your predetermined conclusion that supports your political viewpoint without waiting on facts or evidence.


          Everyone else.

          1. Doug Ross

            Yes, wouldn’t it be great to hear the teacher’s side of the story. Why don’t we start with that? Maybe some background on whether this was a first time incident or repeated behavior. Maybe some insight into the actions of the girl that led to the administrator being called.

            Nah, it’s just racism.

          2. Mark Stewart

            I think we are waiting for the evidence. I do not believe any more evidence was necessary to fire the SRO. The other three (student, teacher and administrator) remain under investigation as to their actions, no?

            The only other thing we “know” is the defense attorney’s posturing; and I think we all agree that is not worth any degree of evaluation in this situation.

            I trust that the review is going to be conducted with diligence, and I expect that there will, at some point, be a public accounting of the facts – hopefully after whatever punishment is appropriate has been meted out.

          3. Norm Ivey

            The student is a minor, and neither the school district nor the sheriff’s department is gong to be saying much about her or her behavior. The teacher can’t speak publicly about the student’s behavior, just as you wouldn’t want a school official talking about your child’s behavior publicly.

            The sheriff has addressed his deputy’s role in the incident. I would expect that the rest will be handled as an internal matter.

            1. Mark Stewart

              When this is settled and concluded, I think it may be material that School Districts and Sheriff’s Departments across the state might want to evaluate in policies and procedure reviews.

              1. Barry

                We will know some information about this because Todd Rutherford will tell us his side of the story countless times.

                MSNBC, I feel confident, will want to make sure everyone is aware of the facts according to Todd Rutherford.

            2. Doug Ross

              I thought the student (as well as the student who took the video) were already allowed back to school without any punishment?

              If my kid ever did what she did, I don’t care if the teacher tells everyone about it. Maybe that’s part of the problem. The fear of having bad behavior exposed is not there.

                1. Doug Ross

                  Uh, you can’t talk about kids without saying their names?

                  If that’s the case, then every teacher I have ever talked with should be facing legal action. They all talk about problem kids without naming names.

                  I’d like to see the statute that prevents speaking about students without identifying them. If there is a court case, will the teacher be prevented from testifying?

                  It’s really about the teaching profession being ultra closed in terms of discussing bad news. It’s ingrained into the profession. Never speak ill of another teacher is one commandment.

                2. Norm Ivey

                  We can’t talk about kids in a way that they can be identified in public. Neither the district nor the teacher is going to publicly speak about this individual student’s behavior in class. It’s a civil rights issue. And it’s unprofessional.

                  There are plenty of federal laws that address it. IDEA, ADA and FERPA for starters.

                  And, no, I (and most teachers) won’t speak ill of another teacher in public, because that is also unprofessional. There are plenty of folks outside of education who do it without us piling on.

                3. Doug Ross

                  Closing ranks is what leads to poor teachers staying in jobs which might lead to some of the piling on you and other teachers are overly sensitive about.

                  Can’t see how staying stating facts is unprofessional.

              1. Barry


                The students were allowed back in school with no punishment. They’ve already stated that publically.

                There is no way in the world any student in this fiasco was going to face any punishment. The district and the school is too afraid of either student at this point.

  3. Guy

    In what way does Sen. Lourie speak “on behalf of Richland Two and the Richland County Sherriff’s Department”? I am tired of representation by the idiot class at all levels of government in SC.

    In related news, was I the only one shocked by the utter mish mash that was John Adam’s self endorsement in The State? His daddy couldn’t proof it for him? Amateur hour continues…

      1. Barry

        Sorry- I see your point now – and I was mistaken. I read your post wrong.

        I wish Brad had an edit function available for posters to use.

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