Coatesville racist text messages are especially shocking

By now, most of Chester County, and in fact, the great Philadelphia area knows that Coatesville School District Superintendent Rich Como and Athletic Director Jim Donato are engaged in shocking scandal involving racist and sexist text messages sent between them.

That they must be terminated goes without saying. That their behavior is unconscionable is self-evident.

While they are not the first racists or sexists to achieve positions of power in a community, the discovery and publicizing of their communication at this time and place is a historical landmark for various reasons.

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The first is that they are the leaders in an institution that is in place to serve the multicultural community. They were not selected to turn a profit, raise a crop or produce a product. They were not in an enterprise that involved meeting a bottom line at all costs to pay off stockholders.

They were hired to serve and embrace the children of their town, and the main qualification is that they sincerely support the kids whose lives they are entrusted with.

In that respect, they have shown allegedly by their texts, that they have failed.

But it gets worse. Even if they harbored in their minds a dislike for certain of their students, they are bound by the honor of their positions to keep those feelings to themselves.

They did not.

According to the reports in the Daily Local News and other media outlets, they used derogatory epithets on phones that were owned by the school district -- not themselves.

They were also indiscrete enough to put the words into a medium that could be retrieved by others, and once retrieved, it was shared with anyone who cared to access it on the Internet.

If anything, that was just stupid.

There are those who are calling for the mass resignation of the Coatesville Area School Board. That is because they are reported to have known about the content of the texts.

But those who would, out-of-hand, toss them out must consider the positions they are in.

They had to get their proverbial “ducks in order” before they entered into a legal battle that would cost the district great sums of money.

They had to make a case, seal it up and act upon it in the right order.

It is not likely that anyone on that board condoned the behavior, any more than the critics in the public are doing now.

With that said, it must be remembered that Richard Como and Jim Donato are not the first racists that the public has faced, nor will they be the last.

Consider the school superintendents and boards of the past who have promoted and even fought for segregation.

Consider the boards that have sent the used books from the white elementary schools over to the school in the black neighborhood after the white kids got new ones.

Consider the country clubs that seem strangely to have no black members or the genteel garden clubs with lily-white elder women.

And even more, remember that real estate agents and banks until recently have had the nasty habit of red-lining and refusing loans when it comes to people of the wrong skin shade.

This country is moving in the direction of equal opportunity for all, but the legacy of slavery, separation and discrimination still lies just under the surface.

Let the tragedy of the Coatesville situation be a lesson to all that this kind of behavior is not only inhumane but stupid. And it must be stopped.