Coatesville school board firm against ouster calls

The Coatesville Area School Board stood behind the district’s acting superintendent and solicitor last week amid calls for their removal over their handling of a texting scandal involving two former administrators.

Objections were also raised over the millions of dollars in legal fees collected in recent years by District Solicitor James Ellison and his firm, Rhoads & Sinon of Harrisburg.

Samuel Stretton, the West Chester attorney who now represents Acting Assistant Superintendent Teresa Powell and Director of Technology Abdallah Hawa, repeatedly called for the dismissal of Ellison and Acting Superintendent Angelo Romaniello in response to what he called the continued harassment of his two clients.

Stretton issued two separate letters to school board members last week that accused Ellison and Romaniello of harassing his clients in retaliation for exposing the racist and sexist text messages exchanged on the district-issued cell phones of former superintendent Richard Como and former Director of Athletics and Activities Jim Donato.

Ellison flatly denied Stretton’s allegations of harassment and said Hawa and Powell continue to play important leadership roles in the district.

“Mr. Hawa’s access has not been changed. Dr. Powell’s duties have not been changed. Each of them continues to hold their important roles in the district leadership,” Ellison wrote in an email Thursday. “The district cannot continue to comment on every baseless and reckless statement Mr. Stretton makes regarding the district and its on-going effort to help heal the district and move forward.”

On Friday Stretton persisted with his claims of harassment and characterized Ellison’s position as “outrageous.”

“For him to deny that Mr. Hawa was locked out is outrageous. It’s outrageous that he would state these lies and it is outrageous that the board would allow this to happen,” Stretton said.

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