Author: Michel Lee

Political leaders filmed fussin’, cussin’ and threatnin’ on school grounds

Although many municipalities reported low voter turnout for last Tuesday’s primaries, tensions were high on election day in Chester Township. A reporter observed raw, unedited video from the body camera of Joseph Colagreco, a worker at the Toby Farms Elementary School polls that double as the third and fourth voting precincts. The footage captures Township Council President Calvin Bernard, Council candidate Robert Knox and Chester Upland School Board President Anthony Johnson hurling profanities and exhibiting seemingly threatening gestures to Colagreco and a woman identified as Sandra “Misty” Purnsley on school grounds. Stemming from an argument prompted by Knox accusing Colagreco of planting trash bags and loose litter on a councilwoman’s property, the Democratic Council candidate asked Colagreco, who is white, if the reason he was wearing a body camera is because “the township is predominantly Black.” “What does race have to do with it?” Colagreco asked, to which Knox responded, “I’m Indian! What you’re not going to do is be disrespectful, I’m not Calvin…I don’t argue with people.” The exchange turned into a round of “get out of my face!” from both parties. Sources who wish to remain unidentified said the arguments could be heard from inside the polling place. At roughly 3:45 p.m., during school dismissal, Purnsley was heard yelling, “Leave me the f**k alone!” to Bernard, who was shouting back, but his responses were inaudible over Purnsley’s...

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DCIU leads effort to find new CUSD leader; few residents offer input

The hiring process for a school district’s top educator is usually the task of the elected school board members, but with the Chester-Upland School District (CUSD) currently under state receivership, the Delaware County Intermediate Unit (DCIU) is leading the national search for a permanent superintendent to succeed Dr. Juan Baughn, who is set to be relieved from his interim position in July. To keep the CUSD community voices amplified, despite state control, DCIU solicited resident input through focus groups that took place in municipalities within the district, last week. In an open forum, where respondents remained anonymous, residents at length expressed attributes and characteristics of a model superintendent. “You need to be a part of (the community), not up here and looking down here, looking at the Chester community as a poor, minority…drug infested, horrible and worst-in-the-country district. We’re not,” one respondent said at Monday night’s first focus group at Chester High School. Other residents also expressed the need for prospective candidates to have experience in navigating an urban school district, especially the only city district in the county. In the last decade, CUSD has experienced a high turnover rate in superintendents, each racked in a base salary of roughly $250,000 a year. The attractive salary and the district’s prevailing reputation led some residents to suspect that most of the educators only sought employment “to pad their resume.” The...

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Ghost Members: Members and wannabees are no-shows at school board meetings

By MichelLee The Chester Upland School District’s (CUSD) website shows a list of elected school board members that allows viewers to click on each of the nine members’ names to learn more about them and see their pictures. But you can’t. There are no pictures and no biographical information about any of them. You think you’ll catch them at a school board meeting? Wrong again. Eight of those nine elected members are consistently absent from monthly school board meeting, including its vice president, Joan Neal. The lone attendee is board President Anthony Johnson. The pattern of consistent no-shows is also apparent among both Democratic and Republican candidates campaigning for the expired terms on the school board. Chester GOP Chairman James “Jimmy” Johnson declined to comment about repeated absences among the Republican school board candidates. Chester Democratic CUSD board candidate Fred Green said he and his running mate, Christina Delva, have been “actively involved hosting youth organizations that conflict with the meetings.” “I’ll try to plan the next youth (organization meetings) around the school board meetings so I can attend,” Green told a reporter. Delva did not respond to e-mailed requests for comment, but another reporter said, last month both Green and Delva were seen at an evening youth event at Chester City Hall while the CUSD school board meeting was simultaneously taking place across the city. Apparently prompted...

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This bacteria is common, but bad

By JeanneBennett Spirit staff Pet Advocate Leptospirosis is a disease caused by infection with leptospira bacteria. These bacteria can be found worldwide in soil and water. Dogs are most commonly affected. Leptospirosis in cats is rare and appears to be mild, although very little is known about the disease in felines. Common risk factors for leptospirosis in dogs residing in the United States include exposure to, or drinking from, rivers, lakes or streams; roaming on rural properties (because of exposure to potentially infected wildlife, farm animals, or water sources); exposure to wild animal or farm animal species, even if...

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State rules against Chester in Right-to-Know case

By MichelLee Last week, the state’s Office of Open Records (OOR) found Chester City guilty for its lack of compliance for requested public information under the Right-To-Know Law (RTKL), as a result of an appeal filed by The Spirit. The appeal came as a result of requests for information that went unanswered by the city for financial records for the budget, salary ordinances, and lists of expenditures that span as far back as Dec. 2016. Under the RTKL, government agencies have five business days to respond to requested information, in writing. If needed, agencies can be granted a...

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