Coatesville group protests in Harrisburg

When the Coatesville Area School District‘s board voted two weeks ago to accept the resignations of two administrators who exchanged racist and sexist text messages, some residents in the packed high school auditorium said the vote wasn’t the end.

On Monday, a handful of people chartered a bus to Harrisburg to tell the state Department of Education that they would accept nothing less than the firings of former Superintendent Richard Como and former high school athletic director James Donato.

Since the board’s vote, the two school officials who told the board about the texts said they were being harassed; two dozen people marched to the district’s headquarters to demand that the entire school board resign; and a state senator said he would introduce an amendment to the state school code to make sure no other superintendent has the option of retiring in a similar situation.

Organizers of the Harrisburg trip originally planned to fill a bus with 54 people. Jobs and prior commitments got in the way for some. So eight people boarded the 25-person bus Monday morning.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child,” said Judy Mentzer-Brown, one of the trip’s organizers. “A village of eight people went today and did what we felt we needed to do to help the people who don’t have a voice, and right now, that’s the children and the minority educators in the school district.”
Soon after the group arrived at the Department of Education, it was told it had to move its protest outside the building – and into the rain.

So the group moved to the Capitol, hoping to meet with legislators, only to find that the legislature was not in session and that it was nearly impossible to even leave a message for an elected official. “We can’t get anyone to listen to us about why we’re here,” said Teresa Smith, a mother of five children who have graduated from Coatesville schools. “This is how we feel at home. We didn’t expect to come to Harrisburg to feel the same way.”

Trip organizer Monique Butler has a 10th grader in the district. “I think Como and Donato, they owe the public, and mainly these kids, an apology,” she said. “You’re supposed to be a leader and you’re talking like this? They get rewarded with still being able to resign. They get no punishment.”

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5 responses to “Coatesville group protests in Harrisburg

  1. It’s time to move on and build for the future. Firing these people would not change their retirement one penny. It would be symbolic at best. If the DA thinks they violated the law he can prosecute and a conviction in that realm could impact their retirements. All of the protests, while heart-felt, don’t do a thing to move the district forward. Students would be much better served by parents uniting to form study groups in the community and parent support groups to help parents learn how to support their child’s education and to give support to single parent families who struggle to support their child’s education. All the members of the school board will stand for re-election and they can be voted out if and when the time comes and the majority think it appropriate. The overall performance of the school’s mission to educate is a much higher priority going forward and should be where everyone’s energy is directed now. The board wants what is best for the students and they did the best they could with a highly volatile situation.

  2. All the people of Coatesville want is a sense of accountability.

    The School Board attempted to cover up what these two jokers did, and let them try to quietly resign. That does not feel like accountability to many people.

    Now, the whistleblowers are allegedly being given a hard time. That does not feel like accountability to many people.

    It doesn’t feel like accountability if some Board members are allowed to stay in office for years until the next election, and allowed to continue to govern a government agency.

  3. Tim,
    Do you want blood or results. I agree with Dave, it’s time to move on…
    I do not condone their conduct however legally you have no right to disrupt their pension. It was the more cost effective way to deal with these jokers than to have to pay the solicitor thousand of dollars to deal with lawsuits these createns would have leveled against the district. If you look at it from an economic situation, boards decision makes sense. GOD will judge them!

  4. For me, the pension issues are separate. The District has no control over that.

    They did, however, have a choice to cover up or not cover up.

    It feels too much like the only reason anything was done was because whistleblowers were ready, willing, and able to go to the press.

    I’m not convinced the decision was economic. They both were willing to resign to avoid this all going public. What grounds would they have for wrongful termination?

  5. Not sure I understand the cover up & I’m not trying to be disrespectful. However, the IT guy found it & turned it over to board, board consults solicitor to make sure they terminated them properly w/o repercussions. Board is informed of issues, since this is about personnel issues they are not required to inform public about circumstances due to private issues. The only reason this became public was Daily Local News requested right to know act and dialog was released by whistle blowers. The board could have been sued by a defamation suit by the ex-administrators. So where was the coverup? They only have to provide dates of employment and salaries not reasons for termination. No coverup, people want blood. Be careful what you wish for since lawsuits will fly and it will be more wasted money with the only winners being the lawyers. Better to move on, save money and begin healing process. People need to remove their emotions and look at it from a business decision. Resignation for defendants was only choice they had. Think about it, a new potential employer only needs to do a google search on them to reveal their past. I wouldn’t want to trade places with them, public shame, shunning and public humiliation (respectfully deserved). Remember they are not out of the woods yet, DIstrict Attorney is not finished investigating sporting shake down for cash. Criminal charges still could come in near future.

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