Coatesville formally hires superintendent

Posted: April 10, 2014

The Coatesville Area School District formally voted to hire a new superintendent Tuesday night, seven months after its former superintendent submitted his resignation over offensive text messages he exchanged with another administrator about students and staff.

Cathy Taschner, assistant superintendent of the Susquehanna Township School District, signed a three-year contract with the district. She is to be paid $175,000 per year, with the potential for annual increases of up to 2.5 percent based on performance. She will start work on or before July 1.

The contract outlines the behavior that the district, which is trying to move on from the texting scandal, expects from its new schools chief. "The Board of School Directors desires a superintendent who will, at all times, comport herself according to both the highest standards of professional ethics and exemplary personal behavior," it says.

Superintendent Richard Como stepped down in September after the district discovered sexist and racist text messages he exchanged with athletic director James Donato, who also resigned.

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association charged the district $13,000 for its help in finding a superintendent.

Under the contract, Taschner will work at least 260 days each year. The district has paid interim Superintendent Leonard Fitts $850 per day as needed since he started at the end of October.

After the board voted to hire Taschner, resident Alain Foster read a prepared "Vote of No Confidence" statement directed at the board that requested the immediate firing of its solicitor, James Ellison, who is being investigated by the Chester County District Attorney's Office in connection with possibly overbilling the district.

"The school board operates in a nontransparent, unchanging manner that appears to hide the truth and promote bad, unplanned business decisions," the statement read. Roughly 40 people in the audience stood in agreement.

The residents are the latest to weigh in on a weeklong, back-and-forth war of accusations between the district and District Attorney Thomas Hogan. Hogan has accused the district of trying to intimidate a witness and said some school board members are not cooperating in his investigation into district finances. The district has denied Hogan's accusations.

610-313-8207 @MichaelleBond

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