Coatesville school district controversy – commentary by Enrique Latoison

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Now, more on this story we told you about earlier in the news cast, another controversy surrounding the Coatesville area school district. First, we learned two top administrators resigned after they allegedly sent racist emails about students and staff. Now, other messages are being scrutinized by the district attorney as part of an investigation into missing money in the school district. Joining us now in the digital operations center is legal expert Enrique Latoison. Enrique, we know the district attorney’s office is looking into this case. What are the possible charges that could be brought?

Well, I mean, you have two issues here. You have the racist text messages that they uncovered. I mean, with this particular issue, there could be possible charges for ethic intimidation or harassment. The district attorney’s office is looking very carefully. I’m sure they are back tracking their actions and see if the actions are consistent with their behavior of how they were speaking about the students. And, then, of course, you have the issue with the theft. If it turns out, because they brought attention to themselves based on these text messages, they could be charged for theft, receiving stolen property, fraud, and conspiracy to those charges.

These were the district issued phones. Is it illegal for people in their position to send and transmit those types of racist text messages?

Well, it’s not illegal. I mean, you have a first amendment right to be a bigot or to say these kinds of things. I mean, they are very distasteful, they are very hurtful, very hurtful to the coastal community, to the students at large, but it’s not illegal. If you talk to this way and then your actions indicate some sort of mistreatment or harassment or intimidation upon the people that you’re speaking about, that could be illegal, your actions could be. But simply just using those foul words and that bad language in itself is not illegal.

What do you see you see happening in this case and the potential for any civil suits?

Well, I mean, the district attorney’s office is carefully looking over their actions and to see if, you know, this speaking of possible kickbacks or theft, and I’m sure they are going to look at it very carefully. If they are able to uncover evidence, they are definitely going to be charged criminally. Now, as far as civilly, now I’m sure the attorneys will be looking to see whether or not somehow were these students mistreated or were they treated in a way that put them in a disadvantage due to the way they were viewed by these two, was there any kind of negligence involved by the school district, were they closely monitoring these two. I would think that a civil suit would be hard to prove in this case but I do think they brought a lot of attention to themselves and I think the district attorney’s office, based on what they have so far, will carefully go over what they did financially or any possible improprieties for any possible theft charges.

We will continue to watch what happens to these top administrators and whether any charges are to come. Legal expert, Enrique Latoison, thank you.

Thank you.

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