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AV vows stiff penalties for graffiti sprayers

| Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2001

Superintendent Ron Wasilak used strong words Monday to describe disciplinary action Allegheny Valley School District will take against whoever sprayed racial epithets on the high school walls more than a week ago.

'The people responsible for this were here last week, and they're here this week,' Wasilak said to about 25 residents at Monday's school board meeting. 'And they will pay.'

School officials are waiting for Allegheny County Police to finish its investigation before handing down any sanctions.

Reward offered
Allegheny Valley School District is offering a $500 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case of racial graffiti at Springdale High School.

Anyone with information is asked to call Springdale police at 724-274-9022.
After the meeting, Wasilak said police have a few pieces of evidence 'that will lead us in the direction we need to go.'

District officials said indications were that the investigation will finish this week.

The investigating officer and supervisor for Allegheny County Police were unavailable for comment Monday night.

'One of things you don't want to do is fly off and try and deal with a problem that might not be the size you think it is,' Wasilak said. 'Let's find out if there is a problem of a certain size and bring a measure of response.'

Racial epithets were discovered Sept. 9 on the school's outside wall - along with the first name of a black student and a noose. The Valley News Dispatch does not identify victims of crime in most cases.

Wasilak told students the day after the 6-foot-high racist graffiti was found on the high school that the district would not tolerate such activities.

One resident called for the district to react stronger.

'My heart goes out to these young fellas who have been racially slurred and their names posted on the walls,' said Jackie Colwes, 49, of Springdale Township. 'We have to come to some reality here. You need some multicultural education in this school district. The school district is no longer segregated.'

The district has about a 1 percent student minority population.

Colwes was disturbed by the school district's lack of minority population. Colwes teaches at Letsche Alternative Education Center in Pittsburgh's Hill District.

Wasilak said the school district has attempted to diversify its population over the years and has Asian and other minority students, although it remains largely white.

'Generally speaking, (minorities) are not attacked,' Wasilak said. 'They are not at risk. They are not at danger in our school.'

The district uses text books that teach multiculturalism, Wasilak said.

Since the incident, school officials have talked to the NAACP Alle-Kiski Chapter about inviting clergy members or students from a more diversified school district to talk with Allegheny Valley students.

The stepfather of the victim, who has a another son in the district, said his sons believe they are safe at the school.

'There have been no other incidents,' the stepfather said.

The stepfather is scheduled to meet with Principal Rich Moreschi about the incident.

Moreschi said he has established an open-door policy with the victim of the incident and talks with him daily.

In other business:

  • Springdale Councilman Dave Watts handed school board officials a petition reportedly signed by 1,028 residents opposed to relocating the Springdale High School football field and spending additional money to improve a facility in Springdale Township.

    School board member Antonio Pollino said at this point there are no plans to do anything.

    Jeff Jones can be reached at jjones@tribweb.com

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