Pennsylvania School Officials Under Fire for 'Racist and Sexist' Text Messages

PHOTO: Coatesville Officials Resign
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A Pennsylvania school district has found itself in the center of a scandal after the discovery of egregious "racist and sexist" text messages between a school superintendent and a top deputy, according to officials.

"The racist and sexist language expressed by the two men was sickening and obviously unacceptable," board president Neil Campbell said in a statement. "The Board followed state and federal laws and moved as expeditiously as possible while simultaneously cooperating with the District Attorney."

The men allegedly made references to students and faculty members in the graphic messages.

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 ABCNews.com.

"As a result of the district attorney's investigation, these text messages and the use of the phones became known to the district attorney," Hogan said. "The district attorney requested that the information be immediately turned over to the Chester County detectives."

The school district said in a statement that copies of the text message exchanges between former Superintendent Richard Como and Athletic Director Jim Donato were provided by an unnamed person to board member Dr. Tonya Taylor. She contacted the board president, vice president and solicitor who ordered an "immediate" internal investigation.

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

Days later, both men resigned.

"The Coatesville Area School District (CASD) confirmed today that the resignations of former Superintendent Richard Como and former Athletic Director Jim Donato occurred after the two were informed that the board was commencing the legal process to terminate their employment because of highly offensive text messages exchanged by the two men on their district phones," the district said in a statement today.

ABC's Philadelphia station WPVI posted the school district's full statement on their website.

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

Guidance counselors and mental health specialists are also on-hand in schools for staff and students, some of whom have expressed disappointment in the former leaders. An uncensored transcript of the texts has circulated on the Internet, upsetting students, staff and residents.

"I looked up to the guy," high school senior Steven Reid told WPVI of Como. "He did a lot for us and to hear him talk about us like that, how he really felt inside about us ... it hurt."

Neither Como nor Donato could be reached for comment today.

"Today is a sad day for all of us in the Coatesville Area School District," acting superintendent Angelo Romaniello Jr. wrote in a letter to parents, guardians and community members. "Just yesterday our community was made aware of inappropriate and racial comments that may have been made by people we trusted."

Officials will vote on whether or not to accept the resignations at a school district meeting on Tuesday night.

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