Public sounds off at Coatesville board over solicitor investigation

COATESVILLE, Pa. - October 22 2013

"Do you have any option but to suspend him immediately? That's a question," Coatesville resident Stu Deets said.

But from the board, there was only silence.

On Monday, Chester County DA Tom Hogan said he's trying to figure out if attorney James Ellison and his firm have defrauded the district out of millions in improper legal fees, but the board has only stonewalled him.

"The longer this goes on the guiltier you all look. No one in this district wants you to represent us any longer," Tom Audette of Coatesville told the board.

Ellison, meanwhile, had no comment prior to the meeting, but his law firm Rhoads & Sinon denied any wrongdoing in a statement:

"Rhoads & Sinon rejects any implication that the Chester County DA has made regarding alleged impropriety on our part. We, and the Coatesville Area School District, have cooperated and will continue to cooperate, with the D.A.'s investigation. All relevant evidence has been protected and preserved, and the School District has undertaken its own internal investigation into some of the same issues that apparently are the subject of the D.A.'s investigation.

Thousands of pages of documents have been turned over to the D.A. so far. All unprivileged documents that the D.A. has the legal authority to request have been produced to him or are in the process of being produced. Rhoads & Sinon will continue to cooperate with the D.A.'s reasonable requests as he concludes his investigation.

We are unable to comment further in light of this apparent continuing investigation."

The expanded investigation came about after a racist texting scandal broke causing the former superintendent and athletic director to resign.

Some upset residents stressed their lack of trust in the board and Ellison, others asked for cooler heads.

"Let's stop throwing darts at one another and let's get to the bottom of it and let's get it solved and move on," resident Richard Felice said.

The DA says his investigators are not getting the documents they need or the people they want to interview.

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