Racial epithets litter text messages of Coatesville school officials

Officials say ex-Coatesville schools Superintendent Richard Como exchanged slur-filled texts with a colleague.
Officials say ex-Coatesville schools Superintendent Richard Como exchanged slur-filled texts with a colleague. (schools Superintendent Richard Como exchanged slur-filled texts with a colleague.)
Posted: September 24, 2013

IF EAGLES WIDE receiver Riley Cooper provided a viral-video reminder by dropping the n-word at a Kenny Chesney concert, the head of the Coatesville Area School District and the high-school athletic director have added the exclamation point - lots of exclamation points.

This is not the country the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream about 50 years ago. Post-racial America? Yeah, right.

Look no further than the text messages between then-Superintendent Richard Como and then- director of athletics and activities Jim Donato, which were leaked to the Chester County District Attorney's Office and include dozens of uses of racial epithets, according to a transcript.

"Being a prosecutor, I see a lot of offensive things, day in and day out. But these were taking offensiveness to a new level," District Attorney Tom Hogan told the Daily News yesterday. "You're thinking, 'This is 2013, not 1813, right?' "

Many of the alleged text messages between Como and Donato, first reported by Chester County's Daily Local News, are downright ugly. They manage to disparage not just African-Americans, but Arabs, Jews and women, too.

"All should just have whatever first names they want . . . then last name is N-----!," Donato wrote to Como, according to the Daily Local. "Leroy N-----, Preacher N-----, Night train n-----, clarence n-----, Latoya n-----, Thelma n----- and so on."

"Great idea!" Como responded. "Joe n----- bill n----- snake n----- got a nice ring to it."

Como and Donato appeared to discuss students, according to the newspaper.

"Could have whole homerooms of n-----!" Como wrote.

"Hahahahaha!" Donato responded. "Will N----- report to the office, pardon the interruption but will n----- report to nurses office. N----- to lunch now!"

The vile transcript only covers text messages sent between June 4 and 17. A woman is called an offensive term starting with a "c," and there's a reference to a "camel jockey" and "cotton pickers."

"They were not only racist, they were sexist," Hogan said. "My detectives are looking at these things, and they are appalled."

Hogan said he became aware of the text messages during the course of an ongoing investigation involving the Coatesville Area School District. He had the district turn them over to his detectives because they contain references to potential criminal conduct.

Como did not return a phone call from the Daily News yesterday, and Donato could not be reached. Members of the school board and its solicitor did not respond to requests for comment, either.

Como, the district's superintendent for eight years, unexpectedly "retired" during the first week of the school year. Donato also resigned. District officials have kept a lid on the reasons behind their departure.

"I am confident and assured," Como wrote in a letter to the school board, "that the timing is right to announce my retirement."


On Twitter: @wbender99

Blog: ph.ly/DailyDelco

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