The departures were sudden.
After eight years serving as superintendent of the Coatesville Area School District in Pennsylvania, Richard Como announced his retirement. Athletic Director Jim Donato's resignation soon followed. Their actions were a surprise, but nothing was more shocking than the reasons behind their swift departures. According to Action News/WPVI Como and Donato were going to be fired anyway.
"Coatesville Area School District officials have confirmed that the resignations of Como and Donato were submitted after the two were informed that the legal process to fire them was already under way.
"In a statement given to Action News, the district also confirmed this is all directly linked to 'highly offensive text messages exchanged by the two men on their district phones.'
"The statement also says, 'The racist and sexist language expressed by the two men was sickening and obviously unacceptable.'"
The text messages, which were exchanged over district phones, were discovered last month by an IT employee, who was giving them an upgrade. The employee reported the texts to school board member Tonya Thames Taylor, who also happens to be the area's local NAACP chapter president. Now the scandal has reached the upper echelons of county and city leadership, according to the Delaware County Times.
"Two United States congressmen who represent portions of the Coatesville Area School District – U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-6th of West Pikeland, and U.S. Rep. Joseph R. Pitts, R-16th of East Marlborough – issued a joint statement Monday afternoon condemning the text messages.
"'Those messages are vile, disgusting, and unacceptable. There is no scenario in which it is okay to talk or to even think that way,' Pitts said. 'The students in the school district need to know that elected officials and other community leaders know right from wrong. Those text messages are very, very wrong.'"
The Chester County District Attorney's office has also begun a criminal investigation into the school district. If you want to read the text messages, a transcript has been made available, but be warned, the language is highly offensive.