Former Penn Hills student claims he was expelled without due process
A former Penn Hills student and his mother claim in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed Tuesday that the Linton Middle School principal expelled him without a hearing or due process and, consequently, no charter school will enroll him.
Zyion Handburgh, 13, and his mother, Michelle Berish of Penn Hills, are asking a judge to reinstate him as a student.
Charles Steele, one of Handburgh's lawyers, said the teen wasn't really “expelled” because that would imply he went through the expulsion process. Instead, Principal Shaun Cooke simply told Berish that her son was no longer a student, the lawsuit says.
“I've never seen it done like that,” he said.
Handburgh and Berish are only suing the district, but the lawsuit is based on what they claim Cooke did.
District spokeswoman Teresita Kolenchak, solicitor Craig Alexander and Cooke couldn't be reached for comment.
The lawsuit claims that Handburgh suffers from emotional disturbance, behavior problems and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but the district has refused to provide him with an Individual Education Plan or other support required by federal disability and state and federal school laws.
Cooke suspended Handburgh for two days on Oct. 28 after he disrupted class during a math test on Oct. 24, according to court documents. Cooke scrawled “return to alt ed” on the back of a business card that he sent home with Handburgh, the lawsuit says.
When Berish asked Cooke on Oct. 31 what homework her son needed to make up, Cooke said he had none because he was no longer a student, the lawsuit says.
None of the surrounding charter schools will enroll Handburgh because they don't understand why Penn Hills kicked him out, according to the lawsuit.
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates storm back with late rally to defeat Diamondbacks, 9-4
- Photo gallery: Walk The Moon Gospel Tour at Stage AE
- Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble closes season with dramatic revival
- Wiz Khalifa gets fans fired up for new album in First Niagara show
- Steelers’ Blake prefers secondary job
- Inside the Ropes: Indy wrestling Q&A
- Doppelheuer chosen to lead Belle Vernon wrestling
- Pirates notebook: Cole scratched from rehab start at Indianapolis
- All in favor of sewage accord between Allegheny Valley authority, regulators
- Police supporters meeting in Ford City
- Steelers notebook: Team extends Suisham’s contract through 2018