West Chester Making National Headlines, Time for McCune to Do the Right Thing

schoolImage by elizabethaferry
Op-Ed by Stephen Wahrhaftig, Chair of the Libertarian Party of Chester County

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. These media outlets have zeroed in on the shocking viral video of West Chester School Board Director Chris McCune and his treatment of a parent speaking at a recent school board meeting. Members of the Chester County Libertarian Party who attended that meeting have attested that this video does, in fact, accurately portray the situation and the actions of Mr. McCune.

A parent stood at the podium, visibly upset and critical of the board’s recent actions. 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, this parent was forcefully silenced, in a display of utter contempt for members of the community who do not agree with his views. In the video, Mr. McCune can be heard chastising this parent, accusing her of “bombarding” the meeting. To anyone who witnessed this moment, it was clear that the only person “bombarded” in this meeting was the parent who was literally bum-rushed, as Mr. McCune left the stage, aggressively crossed the room, and pulled the microphone from her hands.

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This type of aggression—using one’s physical size and situational authority—is called bullying. Our schools, the same schools Mr. McCune supports, have a zero-tolerance policy regarding bullying. As Mr. McCune issued a half-hearted apology and placed blameless on his own actions and more on the lack of access to remote microphone control, he acts with the same arrogance he previously displayed when, in official School Board related communications, he asserted that 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. Their letter avoided mentioning a single word of this nationally reported event. Instead, they cited “unpresented challenges over the past 18 months” as if these challenges were unique to themselves and could justify this reaction from their director.

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These actions reflect an ongoing and 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 defended himself based on the content of 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 ‘business as usual’ arrogance.

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 of much of the local community.

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The Libertarian Party of Chester County promotes individual liberty for all residents of Chester County, Pennsylvania. The members are involved in volunteer activities throughout the community, and they work with local governments to ensure that laws and regulations conform to the state constitution. Their monthly meetings are open to the public and are held at Timothy’s Restaurant in West Chester PA.

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