Black doll hung in locker room was prank
District determines incident not racially motivated
COATESVILLE » Coatesville Area School District Superintendent Cathy Taschner said that the students responsible for hanging a black baby doll from a locker room ceiling said it was a “foolish prank.”
When school officials found the doll hanging with a neck tie around it, their initial concern was that the doll was intended to cause racial intimidation. However, after investigating the matter, Taschner on Wednesday said the students described it as a “foolish prank.” She says the students will still face discipline over it.
In a letter to parents, she wrote that members of the Coatesville Area Senior High boys cross country team found the doll in a trash can at a meet in early September and began playing with it until a coach threw the doll back in the trash can. Unbeknownst to the coaches, some team members retrieved it from the trash and stuffed it into an open ceiling tile in their locker room. It
“This incident is offensive, insensitive and not reflective of the kind of behavior we expect or will tolerate from our students.”
— Cathy Taschner, Coatesville Area School District superintendent
was there for several weeks, according to school officials, until a team member used his tie to hang it down from the ceiling, where it was recently discovered.
The incident was reported to the school police for investigation and to the District Attorney’s Office.
“While team members interviewed by administrators indi-
cated this was a foolish prank and that their intent was not to cause racial intimidation, we cannot accept that reasoning,” Taschner said in the letter. “This incident is offensive, insensitive and not reflective of the kind of behavior we expect or will tolerate
from our students.”
She added that the “Coatesville Area School District does not tolerate or condone hate crimes of any kind, nor will we tolerate any kind of racial insensitivity.”
Coatesville students have recently faced such behaviors from students outside the district during school activities, and from former Coatesville administrators.
North Penn High School
students allegedly shouted racial slurs and derogatory words toward Coatesville students during a football game at North Penn in Lansdale in Montgomery County last November. Both schools investigated the matter.
The Daily Local News also reported on two former Coatesville administrators, then-superintendent Richard Como and former athletic director James
Donato III, when district officials reportedly found racist and sexist messages on their district-issued cellphones in 2013. They have since been charged with felony theft from the district and state ethics law violations. Como has an upcoming trial while Donato pleaded guilty.
“We have worked extremely hard over the last several years to ensure that we are doing our best to crethat
“We have worked extremely hard over the last several years to ensure that we are doing our best to create learning environments that support and promote tolerance, respect, and appreciation for diversity.” — Cathy Taschner, Coatesville Area School District superintendent
ate learning environments support and promote tolerance, respect, and appreciation for diversity,” Taschner said. “We focus tremendous efforts on ensuring that we have training and systems in place to stamp out racism, bigotry, and injustice.”
Administrators are meeting with cross country team members and their parents to discuss the matter, and disciplinary action will follow. The incident has been reported to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, the Mid Atlantic Equity Center, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Chester County District Attorney’s office.
Visit Daily Local News staff writer Ginger Rae Dunbar’s blog about journalism and volunteering as a firefighter at FirefighterGinger.blogspot.com.