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Suspended Penn-Trafford teacher charged with stalking student

| Friday, July 25, 2014, 11:36 a.m.

A suspended Penn-Trafford High School teacher is accused of stalking a 17-year-old student by trying to meet the student at his workplace and repeatedly inviting him to events and restaurants.

After trading messages online with Spanish teacher Michael David Garet and meeting the teacher during down times at school for a few months, the student decided Garet's attention was more than that of a concerned friend. That caused him to worry about his safety, according to a criminal complaint by Penn Township police.

School Resource Officer David Meyers last week charged Garet, 31, of Level Green, with stalking, harassment and disorderly conduct for incidents from Nov. 23 to Feb. 1.

The charges were mailed to Garet. Harrison City District Judge Helen Kistler has scheduled a Sept. 9 preliminary hearing for the case.

“There was definite, inappropriate and — in our opinion — criminal conduct on behalf of Garet,” police Chief John Otto said.

Garet did not respond to a message requesting comment.

Otto credited school officials with quickly involving police. Another teacher alerted the principal about concern expressed by the student's mother on Jan. 31, a Friday. When school was back in session on Feb. 4, after a snow day, administrators suspended Garet without pay and police escorted him from school.

“You can't take any chances, and you turn everything over immediately,” Penn-Trafford Superintendent Matt Harris said.

In the criminal complaint, Meyers said Garet began messaging the student through Google+ Hangouts, then started monitoring the student's social media accounts.

Garet invited the student to attend a University of Pittsburgh basketball game, to come to the high school when school was not in session, and to his home when his wife was away, the complaint states. He offered to make an on-campus visit to a college with the student.

“Mr. Garet continued to ask, almost daily, what he was doing for that day,” the complaint states.

In late January, Garet contacted the student's mother within an hour of her blocking his access to her Facebook page, according to the complaint. Garet sent a message to the student after the student removed a photo of him and Garet from a Twitter account, “asking, ‘Have I done anything recently to upset you at all?'”

Garet was hired at Penn-Trafford in 2010. His name was not listed on the tentative teaching assignments the school board approved in June. School officials are interviewing candidates to fill his position.

Garet, a graduate of Trinity High School and Washington and Jefferson College, was earning $51,831, records show.

He taught for five years at Washington Senior High School in Washington County and is a former boys' soccer head coach for Canon McMillan High School.

Chris Foreman is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2363 or cforeman@tribweb.com.

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