Chester’s County’s first-ever black sheriff who is also a parent of a black child in Chester County schools is “very concerned” that former schools superintendent Agnes Slayman allegedly made racial comments to schools staffers and supposedly was going to “get” him, after seeing a report of alleged statements Slayman made to schools staff.
The statements were compiled by an independent consultant hired late last month by the Chester school board to investigate claims made by staff of Slayman’s alleged abusive behavior that the report said includes racial statements.
Employees at the school district allege Slayman, who is white, was “very upset” that a black security officer had been assigned to Lewisville Elementary School. Slayman allegedly told a senior administrator, “He is black; fix it!”
Sheriff Alex Underwood slammed Slayman’s alleged racial statements as both the sheriff and parent. Underwood said he was aware of alleged problems that some school officials had at Lewisville Elementary School when a black officer replaced a white officer as school resource officer before private guards were brought in this summer.
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“I am very concerned, especially as a parent, that racial comments would be made by the superintendent,” Underwood said Friday. “How can we expect our children to succeed in this kind of environment?”
Slayman’s lawyer, J. Lewis Cromer, declined to comment specifically on any allegations in the report, including racial bias claims made by employees. Cromer did reiterate that Slayman “absolutely disagrees” with any claims that Slayman was going to physically harm anyone.
Slayman may issue a statement concerning her decision to resign within days, Cromer said, but until that time she would make no comment concerning the allegations in the report or the decision to resign.
“Yogi Berra died this week. He said ‘It ain’t over ‘til it’s over,’ and we have no comment until this is over.” Cromer said.
Slayman and Underwood have disagreed for months about safety in the schools since earlier this year when Slayman and the district dumped deputies as school resource officers in favor of private security guards. Underwood blasted Slayman then, saying the decision made schools less safe.
Slayman allegedly directed several employees to interview cheerleaders in an effort to get the sponsor to resign and “get” the sheriff after the public rift over the security guard issue. Slayman allegedly said, “I will get that guy this time...”
Underwood said that he and his family are friends with the family of the cheerleading coach and that ever since the public dispute over school officer, Slayman has been “trying to stir up (a) mess,” Underwood said Friday about allegations that she would “get” him.
In another comment to schools staff that is in the report, Slayman allegedly told an employee that the state of Idaho, 95 percent white, is “heaven.”
Many details in the report came out Thursday just hours before Slayman resigned her $150,000 per year job as superintendent of the district that serves about 5,000 students. Although the school board met in private Thursday, it voted publicly late Thursday to pay Slayman $300,000 for two years of salary after she resigned. The decision Thursday came just days after Slayman was out on leave in an extended absence that neither she nor the school board has ever publicly explained.
Board Member Maggie James, one of two black board members who voted against paying Slayman the $300,000 Thursday, declined comment Friday about the any racial bias statements allegedly made by Slayman.
More, James said she “prefers not to talk about” any details on the board’s decision to part ways with Slayman, saying that board chairperson Denise Lawson is “in charge.”
Lawson could not be immediately reached Friday.
William Halligan, lawyer for the school district, said Friday morning he expects a statement from the school district and board would be released today but declined to comment further on the report or decision to accept Slayman’s resignation.
The report details allegations made by school administrative staff to a third party hired as a consultant by the school board to investigate Slayman. Slayman is accused of threatening employees with physical harm up to threats to “cut throats” as well as using a heavy-handed management style that was so terrifying that employees sought medical help.