South Fayette mother wants case against bullied son to be dropped
The mother of a South Fayette High School student convicted of disorderly conduct for recording classmates bullying him wants a judge to reverse the decision and the district to apologize.
Shea Love, 40, of South Fayette questioned why school officials contacted police to discuss a possible violation of wiretap laws but refused to confront the students whose voices she says were captured on an iPad tormenting her son.
Love requested the identity of her son, 15, a sophomore diagnosed with a comprehension delay disorder, ADHD, and an anxiety disorder, be kept private out of fear of retribution.
“The whole thing has been a horrible nightmare,” Love told the Tribune-Review on Sunday. “This whole ordeal has made my son miserable.”
Asked to discuss the case, school board President Len Fornella said: “I can't comment on that.”
Other school board members, Superintendent Bille P. Rondinelli, high school principal Scott Milburn and assistant principal Aaron Skrbin did not return calls or could not be reached during the weekend. South Fayette police could not be reached.
According to a transcript of a March 19 hearing before South Fayette District Judge Maureen McGraw-Desmet, the boy said he made the seven-minute recording “because I always felt like it wasn't me being heard.”
He said classmates harassed him for several months, and even though he told his mom, he didn't have anything to show for it.
“I wanted some help,” he said. “This wasn't just a one-time thing. This always happens every day in that class.”
Love testified that the recording includes one boy telling another boy to pull her son's pants down. The teacher tells them that if what they're talking about doesn't have anything to do with math, they need to stop talking.
Later in the recording, Love testified, there is a loud slam, and the teacher tells them to sit down.
Two boys ask, “What? I was just trying to scare him.”
Milburn called South Fayette police Lt. Robert Kurta on Feb. 12 requesting he come take a report because he believed he “had a wiretapping incident.” State law generally prohibits secret audio recording.
After questioning the boy, district officials forced him to erase the recording and punished him with a Saturday detention, which he served, according to the hearing transcript. Kurta, who testified that he did not hear the recording, charged him with disorderly conduct, a summary offense.
Kurta did not return calls. He told the judge that he didn't think the case warranted a felony wiretapping charge but made the decision to pursue a summary charge “because I believe that he committed a crime.”
Skrbin testified that the district had records of Love complaining about students bullying her son, including an incident in October in which a student hit her son with “spitwads,” even after her son told him to stop.
“To be blunt, I would not classifying that as bullying,” Skrbin said.
McGraw-Desmet found Love's son guilty. She fined him a minimum of $25 and ordered him to pay court costs. McGraw-Desmet could not be reached.
Love said her son is appealing the judge's decision.
A hearing is scheduled in Common Pleas Court on April 29.
Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 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.
- Board members bring business attitude to nonprofit August Wilson
- Solarize Allegheny powers up with more communities
- Penn Hills fire displaces 10
- W.Pa. to observe International Overdose Awareness Day
- Man critical after being shot in Pittsburgh’s Knoxville neighborhood
- Port Authority’s plan for car-free communities slow to bear fruit
- Animal welfare groups see opportunities in dialogue about Vick signing
- Shaler man charged with homicide, abuse of corpse in McKeesport woman’s death
- Newsmaker: Matthew Opdyke
- Newsmaker: Dr. Randy Hebert
- Vote on partnership between Wilkinsburg, Pittsburgh Public School possible in October