Coatesville school board denies D.A.'s allegations

Posted: April 07, 2014

COATESVILLE The Coatesville Area School District's board denied Friday night that its suspension of its assistant superintendent was an attempt to intimidate a man who has been cooperating in a criminal investigation of district finances.

A day after Chester County District Attorney Thomas Hogan issued a highly critical statement accusing the board of trying to intimidate a witness and hinder his office's work, the board called Hogan's statement "blistering and inaccurate."

The district said it was trying to be transparent when it said last week that it was placing its assistant superintendent, Angelo Romaniello, on administrative leave because of information it had uncovered, without giving details.

Hogan called the suspension over a "noncriminal matter" an attempt to intimidate Romaniello, who, unlike some district employees, is cooperating with authorities, he said.

"We have no explanation as to why Mr. Hogan would presume, without evidence or even inquiry, that our actions were designed to interfere with his investigation or witnesses," said the district's statement. "We are at a loss to explain how reporting information, which was provided to us by the two staff members, and following up on the same, raises suspicion by law enforcement."

For the last few months, the county has been investigating whether the district's solicitor, James Ellison, overbilled the school district. The investigation stemmed from the district's texting scandal, in which its former superintendent and a former athletic director resigned early in the school year after their sexist and racist text exchanges about students and staff were discovered.

Hogan also said Ellison's second role as the district's spokesman created a conflict of interest. The district said that because the Chester County Intermediate unit helped write the news release about the suspension, there was no conflict of interest.

Hogan said in his statement Thursday that the school board "has demonstrated an unswerving instinct to do exactly the wrong thing at nearly every step of this investigation."


mbond@philly.com

610-313-8207 @MichaelleBond

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