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Wednesday
Sep252013

School Officials Resign After Discovery of Racist Messages

File photo. (Hemera/Thinkstock)(COATESVILLE, Pa.) -- A Pennsylvania school board accepted the resignations of a school superintendent and top deputy who were caught exchanging "racist and sexist text" messages. The board's decision was met with shouts and jeers from an angry community.

"You do a nice song and dance for us, but it still doesn't ease the pain of the people," resident James Jackson said at the meeting. "We are looking for some closure."

"I respectfully request the resignation of the entire school board," one parent said before the crowd erupted into cheers.

The frustrated crowd packed the Coatesville, Pa., auditorium for the four-hour meeting leading up to the vote on whether to accept the resignations of former superintendent Richard Como and athletic director Jim Donato.

The Chester County District Attorney's Office became aware of the texts during an investigation of the Coatesville Area School District, Chester County DA Tom Hogan told ABC News.

Board president Neil Campbell called the messages "racist and sexist" and said they were "sickening and obviously unacceptable."

The men allegedly made references to students and faculty members in the graphic messages exchanged on district phones.

After a preliminary investigation, Como and Donato were both told not to report to work and then advised that termination proceedings would commence immediately, the school district said.

The pair submitted their resignations just days later.

Community members accused the board of knowing about the texting for a month and not taking action. The board president revealed that the ongoing criminal investigation mentioned by the DA involved kickbacks for high school football camps unrelated to the district, according to ABC News' Philadelphia station WPVI.

Campbell said the board wanted to oust the officials out right away but also wanted to avoid potential lawsuits for not following the termination process, WPVI reported.

"The damage done to our community by these men cannot be calculated or measured," Campbell said. "Like all of you, we are thoroughly disgusted and shocked by what they did."

The board said they had no control over the pension Como can collect, which could only be taken away if he was convicted of a crime. Campbell said the superintendent would not get "one red cent of his remaining contract" and "there would be no buyouts."

The board accepted the resignations with a vote of six to one at the end of the meeting and was escorted out of the building under heavy security.

Como spent 42 years in public education and was superintendent for eight years, according to WPVI.

Neither Como nor Donato could be reached for comment Wednesday.

As a result of the incident, the district plans to provide mandatory sensitivity training for all board members, administrators, staff and faculty.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio