e CommonSense: The Continuing Exploitation of Chester by Delco Politicians

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Continuing Exploitation of Chester by Delco Politicians

Last week's Philadelphia Inquirer had a story entitled "Chester School Has Touters, Doubters," about the Chester Community Charter School owned by Vahan Gureghian. Anyone who has lived and worked in Delaware County long enough knows that the reporter missed the story. Chester Community Charter School isn't about educating children, it's about funneling money into the hands of the politically well-connected.

Here are the Delco politicians' longstanding guiding principles when it comes to Chester:
  • those blacks have been killing each other for years, and they'll keep killing each other forever, and we don't care as long as their blood doesn't splatter on us, and as long as they keep their violence in Chester
  • nobody makes money in Chester unless we say it's OK, and we don't say it's OK unless there's something in it for us
  • you can make much more money with charter schools than you can with public education; after all, what's a few low-paying patronage jobs compared to an interest in a profitable and expanding business?
As the Inquirer says, Main Line lawyer and businessman Vahan H. Gureghian has turned Chester Community Charter School into a profitable, expanding business in the heart of the virtually bankrupt school district. Until 1999 Gureghian was a lawyer with the Philadelphia firm of Obermayer Maxwell Rebmann & Hippel. He was also a part time real estate developer who made a fortune building in Delaware County with the help of certain connections.

His prior interest or experience in education: zilch.

His shame at exploiting the children of Chester: zilch.

Michael F.X. Gillin, well known and loved by all of us who work in the Courthouse, is a lawyer who also is the Registrar of Wills (just tell that to his "assistants"!), chair of the Newtown Republican Party (where he has done a fine job; just ask the rank and file on the police force!), and Chairman of the Board of Control of the Chester Public Schools (because of his vast experience in both education and management!).

Gillin said his favorable treatment of Gureghian's business has not been influenced by past ties with Gureghian. Right. We're stupid, Mike.
  • in the spring, George P. Cordes, a lawyer who works for Gillen, represented Gureghian in the purchase of property adjoining the school (hint: one way to reward a helpful politician is to pay his law firm huge legal fees for simple work)
  • Gureghian rented office space from Gillin for two years, ending in early 2003, paying a total of $10,350 in rent (that's about $400 per month; sounds like Gureghian just wanted a presence in Media as a launching pad for his eventual takeover of the schools)
  • Gureghian's wife, Danielle Gureghian, a lawyer, had a business association with Gillin's firm that she said ended in 2002. She also gave Gillin a $1,000 contribution in 2003. She is now the attorney for the school management company.
  • Gureghian has given $115,000 in political contributions since 2000, much of it to Delaware County and state Republicans. Republican House Speaker John Perzel received the most: $20,000 in 2004, and $15,000 in 2002. (That's just the money we know about; wonder how much went to PACs and other untraceable entities?)
  • Gureghian's business is also represented in Harrisburg by lobbyist Joseph Loeper, another utterly shameless, disgraced, and still powerful guy, the former Republican majority leader of the Pennsylvania Senate who served six months in federal prison in 2001 for obstructing a tax probe.
In the meantime, the Chester public schools are languishing and the children attending those schools are at the mercy of the greed and ambitions of these people. But Vahan Gureghian and his charming wife Danielle are doing just fine, thank you very much:
  • since 1999, Chester Community has paid Gureghian and his company about $10 million in tax dollars to manage the school and about $5 million in rent for use of the school buildings, according to state and federal documents.
  • of the 95 charter schools in Pennsylvania reporting to the state, Chester Community is the only one to have spent more on administration than on instruction in 2003-04, state data show
  • Chester Community school spent 40 percent of its budget on administration and business expenses, with most going to Gureghian's management fee. Charter schools in Pennsylvania typically spent 16 percent.
How do these people sleep at night? Next time you see Mike Gillin in the hall, ask him, what's your secret, Mike?


At 12:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do you know all of that??? and How sure are you of all that you wrote???

At 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a former employee of CCCS, and I would bet that the majority of what is written above is true. Throughout the school year (07-08) promises of technology resources for our classrooms never came to fruition. Although I have no documented proof, the mismanagement of federal grant funds is clearly evident. We would hear that we received a grant but rarely see that grant money materialize into tangible, educational resources. The children and families of Chester have had tremendous disservice placed upon them by the greedy snake, Gureghian. Recently, while attending the 2008 8th grade graduation, Gureghian sat in the back chatting on his cell phone and with a Chester judge while his administration praised him for taking a financial risk in the people of Chester. BULL S@#%. Those who are in the know will rejoice when the hammer finally falls.

At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why are you "Anonymous" perhaps you should come out from the shadows !

perhaps children are receiving more and better education than they would have.. isn't that the bottom line ?

At 2:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am also a former employee of CCCS and know at least one person who still works there. For Christmas 2001, Vahan and his wife, Danielle, "gave" each teacher $500 cash to spend on their students for christmas gifts. What he didn't tell the teachers was that after we bought the toys and wrapped them (with his money), he would show up with bank representatives and media to take the credit he felt he deserved for being "Santa" to all of he beloved students. He's a horse's rectum! He has no interest in the children. He's interested only in how the school makes him look. The teachers have no contract and no union (no charter school in PA does) but they are also paid much less than most teachers in the state. It is shameless that this horse's rectum lives in such a large house and drives such a nice car and is using the school as a front! He needs to be put away for life!

At 8:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He and his wife are a complete FRAUD! They are only in it for the money. His secrets and money laundaring will one day be exposed and everyone will finally learn the TRUTH!

At 2:32 PM, Anonymous Monika said...

Please contact me if you'd like to speak to a report about how you feel about the management of Chester Community Charter School. I am a college student doing a comprehensive reporting assignment on it.

My email is mzalesk1@swarthmore.edu

Thank you and please assist us in this urgent matter, especially if you have had any contact with the school.

At 4:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trust me Him and his wife are bad news!!!! FRAUDS! Vahan is the DEVIL and his wife is not far from it! Not Good PEOPLE at all! Their Lavish spending and so called devoted acts of kindness are an ACT! Danielle is an insecure whining BRAT!
Vahan is a narcissistic arrogant A-hole!His family is so dysfunctional its not even funny!Hope his so called EMPIRE crumbles one day!


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