The Republican committee in a Philadelphia suburb is calling for the local school board president to resign or attend anger management counseling after he demanded that a mother concerned about critical race theory stop speaking at a meeting last week, grabbed her microphone, and had her escorted out by police.
In a letter released Sunday, the Republican Committee of Chester County in Pennsylvania called West Chester school board president Chris McCune’s conduct “reprehensible,” and accused him of trying to intimidate the immigrant mom. The encounter between McCune and a mom named Anita occurred at the end of last week’s two-hour board meeting, during which many parents and teachers expressed their opinions about the district’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
Anita, a mother of three and a legal immigrant from Iran, was one of the last to speak. She said she grew up in an Islamic country “ravaged by communism.” She expressed concerns about CRT and the direction of the school district. She described her home as “the International House of Pancakes,” because her children’s friends are so diverse. And she accused retiring superintendent Jim Scanlon of creating divisions and “leaving a mess.”
At the end of her allotted two minutes, McCune said, “Anita, you’re at time.” She objected, “No, no,” to which he responded angrily, “Yes you are.” McCune then stood up, approached the public speakers podium, took the microphone, faced Anita, and told her to go.
“This is shameful,” McCune told the mom, as she was being removed from the building by officers. “We’ve had a respectful meeting up until you. You bombarded up there, and now you want to monopolize the meeting. Not happening. You’re gone.” (Here is a video of the entire meeting. Anita begins speaking around 1:52:30)
Anita was not the only person at the meeting who went over the allotted two-minute time limit. Earlier in the meeting, McCune respectfully stopped other parents, both for and against the district’s equity efforts, from speaking, noting that they were out of time. He allowed the last speaker of the night – the very next speaker after Anita – to continue speaking after her time had expired. At one point, McCune told the woman speaking passionately about her experiences with racism that she had ten more seconds, but allowed her to keep speaking for more than 20 seconds.
“In our opinion, Mr. McCune should have handled this in a professional manner,” the Republican committee wrote. “Since he refuses to apologize for his behavior, we, and others in the West Chester community, are calling for his resignation from the board. … If he refuses to resign, then he should be required to attend anger management counseling at a minimum.”
Attempts by National Review to reach McCune, a Republican, on his cell phone and his district email were unsuccessful on Monday.
Concerns about critical race theory and equity efforts are increasing in West Chester, as they are in school districts nationwide. At the beginning of last week’s meeting, Scanlon addressed these concerns, and tried to explain previous comments he’d made about the issue that he said had been misunderstood. Critical race theory is not part of the district’s curriculum, Scanlon insisted, but teachers need to understand how race has impacted the nation’s history.
“History cannot be taught without mentioning how gender, ethnicity, race, religion, and/or social systems have impacted our citizens,” Scanlon said. “We’re not trying to make students feel guilty about something their ancestors did or didn’t do, or feel guilty about the color of their skin.”
More than 20 parents, students, and teachers spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting, most of them addressing either the district’s equity initiatives or mask requirements. There were more supporters of the equity initiatives than opponents.
“The teaching of diverse history has not made me feel like any of the bad things that white people have done in the past are my fault,” said one student who spoke during the meeting.
Opponents of the district’s equity initiatives warned about the consequences of pushing unqualified students into more rigorous courses based only on their race or sex. One man compared equity initiatives to a lawn mower that only cuts people down to the same size.
Beth Ann Rosica, a mother who spoke at last week’s meeting and a campaign manager for two candidates running to keep schools open, said many West Chester parents are worried about a lack of transparency from the current board.
“What’s happening in our district right now is, our school board has been dismissive of parents for the last 18 months,” she said. “I think what you’re seeing now is that is all bubbling to the surface, whether it’s around masking, whether it’s around critical race theory.”