While we are usually excited and proud to see West Chester making headlines, recent focus on our community by national newspapers, magazines, and television has not highlighted the many wonderful aspects of our little part of Chester County. Instead, this press has been overwhelmingly negative, and for good reason. These media outlets have zeroed in on the shocking viral video of West Chester School Board Director Chris McCune’s mis-treatment of a parent.
Anita Edgarian, a mother of three local students, spoke at a recent school board meeting to voice her concerns about division in the community caused by Critical Race Theory curricula and the board’s lack of responsiveness. Members of the Chester County Libertarian Party who attended that meeting have attested that the video, which shows Mr. McCune forcibly removing the microphone from Ms. Edgarian’s hands, accurately portrays what happened.
She came to the podium, visibly upset, and criticized the board’s lack of transparency. Like several other speakers at that meeting, she exceeded her allotted time. However, while Mr. McCune politely reminded other speakers of their limits, and even let them continue to speak past their time, Ms. Edgarian was forcefully silenced. Mr. McCune’s display shows his utter contempt for members of the community who do not agree with his views.
While Mr. McCune politely reminded other speakers of their limits, and even let them continue to speak past their time, Ms. Edgarian was forcefully silenced.
In the video, Mr. McCune can be heard chastising this mother, accusing her of “bombarding” the meeting. To anyone who witnessed this moment, it was clear that the only person “bombarded” was her — Ms. Edgarian was literally bum rushed by an aggressive looking McCune.
This type of forceful silencing—using one’s physical size and situational authority—is called bullying. Our schools–the same schools Mr. McCune ostensibly serves–have a zero-tolerance policy regarding bullying. Yet, Mr. McCune has merely issued a half-hearted apology, in which he placed blame less on his own actions and more on the lack of access to remote microphone control. His actions show the same arrogance that he previously displayed when, in official School Board related communications, he asserted that being educated in the district was “a privilege, not a right.”
In the face of rising community anger, it is very sad to see the West Chester School Board members do exactly the opposite of what the public has entrusted them to do. Instead of condemning McCune’s actions, they produced a letter of support. Amazingly, their letter avoided mentioning this nationally reported event, and reason for the letter, at all. Instead, they cited “unprecedented challenges over the past 18 months” as if these challenges could justify the actions of their director.
Both the hostility presented by Mr. McCune and the audacious lack of respect for members of the community from the school board illustrate a broader problem with politicians and bureaucrats in the West Chester area and beyond. We need only look to neighboring New York state, where the governor, when faced with clear evidence of reprehensible behavior, decided to remain in his position. Like Governor Cuomo, McCune has chosen to ignore the calls for his resignation, and instead found has found it somehow excusable to defend himself by pointing at the victim’s speech.
Like Governor Cuomo, McCune has chosen to ignore the calls for his resignation, and instead found has found it somehow excusable to defend himself by pointing at the victim’s speech.
We have had enough. Many members of the Libertarian Party of Chester County currently have students in the West Chester Area School District or have had children graduate from these schools. We want this district to maintain its reputation of excellence and integrity. Therefore, we believe it is time to clean house. In November, the voters will have the ability to elect new board members who are unafraid to stand against this type of arrogance and willing to show respect to the community.
We are not calling for McCune’s immediate resignation. Instead, we expect the director to do the right thing for his community by removing himself as a candidate on the November ballot before the withdrawal deadline of 4:30 pm on Monday August 9th. We look forward to a new candidate who will bring the integrity and fairness needed to regain the lost support for the school board from much of the local community.
READ MORE — To stop Philly’s cycle of violence, D.A. Krasner must prosecute gun crimes
Stephen Wahrhaftig is the chair of the Chester County Libertarian Party.