Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A school official’s unbelievably racist texts

Many people in top jobs at school districts have no business being there. Politics, not professionalism or even good will, rules most school districts. The Pennsylvania school superintendent in the story below was obviously very good at putting on a hail-fellow-well-met facade to hide the sickness within.

Now how do we go about replacing the other corrupt, callous and incompetent school officials? It's hard, because when administrators get in trouble, usually the problem is covered up, and they're sent on to another district with a warm recommendation. Also, since school firings are so often politically motivated, there's a good chance that the fired person is an excellent employee. Obviously, the people in power want to keep playing their game. If problems were revealed, then they'd have to clean them up. Perhaps that is why San Diego County Office of Education and Chula Vista Elementary School District are supporting the effort to shut down this blog by paying taxpayer dollars to Stutz law firm to quash subpoenas.

A school official’s unbelievably racist texts
Tip to bigots: Don't text on your work-issued phone
By Mary Elizabeth Williams
Sep 24, 2013

Not your best moment, Keystone State. Just last week, Pennsylvania was in the news when gun-loving small town police chief Mark Kessler’s expletive-infused rants against “libtards” went viral – and cost him his job. Now, Coatesville Area School District superintendent Richard Como and Director of Athletics and Activities Jim Donato have gained national attention for their abrupt departures from their positions – and the slew of hateful and racist messages discovered on their district-issued cell phones. Board president Neil Campbell has called the texts “sickening and obviously unacceptable.”

The incendiary messages, which all date from this past June, are a regular cavalcade of bigotry. And a source told the Philadelphia Inquirer Monday that “What has been made public represents a fraction of the messages between the men.” In one exchange, the two riff on how “All should have whatever first names they want… then last name is [n-word]!” Over the course of their messages, they also speculate in details on other people’s sex lives, discuss a “Jew red haired ESL” teacher, “that ape,” “cotton pickers” and a “skinny bitch,” among others. Intriguingly, there’s also a reference to a “MAJOR sneak” who “made at least 1500 – 2000 on kickback.”

But to be honest, my favorite is the damming understatement that “This fucking phone! No idea how to work!”

A district IT worker allegedly discovered the messages last month while transferring data to a new device. Superintendent Como announced his retirement shortly after on the district’s Web site – a letter that now appears to have been quietly scrubbed. Director Jim Donato resigned a few days later. On the District’s site now, there’s a new letter from Acting Superintendent Angelo Romaniello, Jr., acknowledging “inappropriate and racial comments… made by people we trusted.” The Times-Herald reports that “the departures were the direct result of discoveries found on Donato’s cell phone.” And because of questions regarding the extent to which the District was aware of the texts and whether appropriate protocols were followed in Como and Donato’s departures, the District Attorney’s office is now conducting a criminal investigation.

According to records obtained by reporters Michael N. Price and Kristina Scala, Como’s 2010 salary was $192,897 – not a bad income for someone with a barely disguised loathing for the students and faculty he works with. But a comfortable salary can’t buy basic human decency. And for that matter, it definitely can’t provide a working understanding that if you’re going to be a hateful jackass, you should really consider whether you want a text record of that hateful jackassery – or least whether you want to be mouthing off on the equipment your employer issued you.

There is so much that’s contemptible about the exchanges between Como and Donato – the simmering, near constant anger they display, the grotesque, dehumanizing way they view pretty much anybody who isn’t a white man (to their credit, though, I didn’t notice any gay slurs in the lot) and the jaw-dropping amount of arrogance and privilege it takes to speak that hatefully, that freely. But what stinks most is the betrayal it represents, the lie that their jobs were. The disgust they had for their own kids. “They were friendly to our faces,” Zhaqweyza Armstrong, a 16 year-old Coatesville High junior, told the Inquirer Monday, “and then they talked about us behind our backs.”

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream." Follow her on Twitter: @embeedub.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why not JOIN SOCIETY NOW? Become part of the colorful world. Stop feeling sorry for yourself /taking EVERYTHING seriously and personally. I know colorfull people. All talk & text racist lip each and every day. Most of the Af. Am. use (cracker, whitey, etc... in reference to cauc. And brownie, dirt skin, wetback, etc... referring to hisp.) Yet the only people to
make a BIG FUSS about it are
African American. I've never
seen, heard, or witnessed ANY
OTHER race - other than the african american race- complain
about WORDS or Name calling throwing fits is getting REAL OLD Stop taking things so personal