Lawyer alleges two harassed in Coatesville

Since exposing racist and sexist texts between the former Coatesville Area School District superintendent and former high school athletic director, two district employees have been subjected to continuing harassment from administrators, including the acting superintendent, a lawyer for the two has alleged.

In an e-mail to the school board Sunday, Sam Stretton also called on acting superintendent Angelo Romaniello to step down.

In response, school board president Neil Campbell issued a statement on behalf of the district, calling Stretton’s claim of harassment “ridiculous.” The district was simply following policy regarding litigation it believed was possibly forthcoming on behalf of the two employees, technology director Abdallah Hawa and Teresa Powell, the acting assistant superintendent, Campbell said.

In a brief phone call Sunday, Romaniello said he “extremely, vehemently disagrees” with Stretton’s allegations. He would not comment further.

Stretton told the school board that Hawa, who discovered the offensive texts that led the school board last week to accept the resignations of Superintendent Richard Como and athletic director James Donato, was ordered by Romaniello late last week to turn over passwords to the district’s computer networks.

Hawa, in turn, contacted Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan, who instructed him to “lock down the systems” and ensure that no one tampered with any data, Hawa said in an interview Sunday.

Hogan’s office is conducting a criminal investigation into the district that school board officials have said was related to potential kickbacks involving high school football camps.

Hogan said Sunday his directive to Hawa to protect the computer system was “a commonsense instruction and an instruction that should have been given by the school district solicitor to the entire district as soon as he became aware there was a criminal investigation.”

Hogan added: “Anybody who tampers with evidence or intimidates witnesses relating to this investigation will be arrested and prosecuted.”

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