Rep. for Hawa claims he was forced to ignore orders from DA
- Updated, 4:25 p.m.: adds comment from Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan
- By Mike McGann and Kathleen Brady Shea, The Times
COATESVILLE — An attorney representing Coatesville Area School District Information Technology Abdallah Hawa and CASD Director of Middle School Education Teresa Powell called for the removal of acting Superintendent of Schools Angelo Romaniello and District Solicitor James Ellison, Sunday, alleging that his clients are being harassed — and in one case were forced to ignore the directive of the county District Attorney.
This new allegation comes just days after the Board of Education moved to accept the resignations of Superintendent Richard Como and Coatesville Area High School Athletic Director James Donato in the wake of allegations that the two engaged texting conversations using racially and sexually offensive descriptions of staff and students. Powell and Hawa were the district employees who first brought the allegations to light last month.
Further, West Chester-based attorney Sam Stretton claimed in a letter sent to the entire Board of Education and copied to various county officials and media outlets Sunday afternoon, that Romaniello had pressured Hawa Saturday night to give him “all passwords for the computer network,” seemingly in conflict with instructions given to Hawa from Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan to “lock down” the system while the DA’s office continues to investigate the school district.
Late Sunday afternoon, Hogan confirmed that he instructed Howa to make sure that evidence was preserved.
“This is an instruction that the solicitor (Ellison) should have given to the entire district,” Hogan said, adding that anyone who tampers with evidence “will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Attempts to Ellison for comment Sunday afternoon were unsuccessful.
In the letter, Stretton claimed that Romaniello instructed Hawa to “ignore the District Attorney and directed Mr. Hawa to provide the information with (sic) under the threat of insubordination.” Hawa, Stretton said, complied.
Additionally, Stretton alleged that Romaniello “harassed” Powell after she reportedly answered questions from two local ministers about the number of African-American faculty members in the district — and took issue with the official number provided by the district’s Director of Human Resources, Erika Zeigler, who allegedly reported that 10% of the faculty is African-American.
In the letter, Stretton said Powell took issue with that number.
“When Dr. Powell pointed out it was only 6.8% from black teachers, Dr. Powell was occupied for approximately five hours in meetings and providing responses to emails and requests for unnecessary questioning,” Stretton said in his letter.
Further, Stretton alleged that Romaniello was already implicated with making demeaning comments about Powell in some of the same texting conversations that led to the departures of Como and Donato. Texting excerpts provided to The Times would appear to confirm that claim, but the validity of the texting transcripts still has not been independently confirmed.
Stretton asked the board to see to it that this behavior be immediately stopped — and then called for the ouster of both Romaniello and Ellison from their current positions, claiming both remain tied to Como.