Chester County School District says politics had no role in community fundraiser

    Earlier this week, the West Chester Area School District reached out to its community to help a family displaced by a fire.

    The fire sparked a collection effort, which led to a post on the WCASD’s website, and then to an article on West Chester Patch, where some commenters wondered if the collection had anything to do with the family’s political affiliations.

    We asked readers whether school districts should take up collections for families, regardless of politics, but WCASD Communications Director Rob Partridge tells us politics doesn’t even factor into the equation.

    After fielding phone calls from district parents, Partridge wanted to set the record straight for those with lingering concerns.

    “I would like to assure any concerned parties that, at the time we posted information provided by the PTO of Hillsdale Elementary School to help, I was completely unaware of a direct or potential tie between the family whose home burned down and Republican Party figures in the area,” he told NewsWorks.

    “A click of our website’s archive link will reveal two other cases in the past year for which we posted information to help victims of a fire and a tragic car accident (Dec. 30, 2010, and January 3, 2011.) While it is rare that district families experience such tragedies to warrant outreach efforts being posted on the website, when our families are involved we have an established track record of trying to help.”

    Partridge said he was “disturbed” by some of the calls coming in to the district, after readers wondered aloud if the family’s matriarch involvement with the Chester County Republican Party had anything to do with the collection. In response, Partridge has decided to be clear about his political affiliations, or lack thereof.

    “In order to dispel any lingering belief that the posting related to political favoritism in any way, please know that my personal politics have never, and will never impact the work of our communications department. “For those who remain skeptical, however, my own political affiliation has been as a Democrat from the day I turned 18 and was eligible to register to vote.

    Partridge says he’s worked on Democratic campaigns and tends to align himself with those efforts.

    “To imply that I would ever show favoritism towards a particular district family – especially in consideration of the fact that their apparent political ties are to the Republican Party – represents a disconnect from common sense and the truth.”

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.