If you think that schools are doing everything in their power to stop bullying, you’re wrong. In one case, they actually filed charges for felony wiretapping against a student for videoing others bullying him in class.
A high school sophomore at South Fayette High School in McDonald, Pennsylvania suffers from ADHD, an anxiety disorder and comprehension delay disorder (an information processing disorder). Consequently, he is the subject of a great deal of harassment and bullying from other students. For the past year, he has been constantly ridiculed, tripped, shoved, nearly burned with a cigarette lighter and more.
The student, whose family requested his name be withheld, researched anti-bullying websites for ideas on how to stop the abuse. He decided to video his harassment on a school issued iPad. Since the worst bullying takes place in his math class, he recorded 7 minutes of harassment.
The video showed his math teacher trying to help him with a math problem. On the video, other students in the class were recorded saying:
“You should pull his pants down!”
“No, man. Imagine how bad that (c**t) smells! No one wants to smell that (t**t).”
Then you hear the loud bang as a book is slammed down on a desk next to the student and everyone laughs. According to the video, the teacher did nothing to stop the harassment, but allowed it to continue.
When the student got home, he showed his mother, Shea Love, the video. She was outraged over the behavior that was allowed to take place in the classroom and took the video to school administrators. Love hoped that they would then take actions against the bullies and stop her son’s constant harassment.
However, that’s not what school officials did. Instead of punishing the guilty, they punished her son. Scott Milburn, Principal of the school, the associate principal and dean of students interrogated the boy, without his mother present and demanded that he delete the video. They called in the local police and South Fayette Township Lieutenant Robert Kurta responded to the call.
Love’s son was then told that he was going to be charged with felony wiretapping, but they decided to just charge him with disorderly conduct instead. Yeah, that’s right. The student being bullied was charged with a misdemeanor crime of disorderly conduct and the classroom bullies were charge with nothing. In fact, the bullied student was kicked out of the special education math class and the bullies remained in the class unscathed by their actions.
Now you would expect that when the 15 year old’s case was sent to court that the charges would be thrown out, but again, that was not the case. District Judge Maureen McGraw-Desmet ruled that the boy was guilty of the disorderly conduct charge. The bullied student and his mother are appealing the judge’s ruling.
There are so many things wrong about this case that I don’t know where to start. Since when is videoing a crime a crime? Why didn’t the teacher stop the bullying when she was right there? Why didn’t the school take action against the teacher or those caught on the video? Why did they punish the victim?
In the end, the faculty at South Fayette High School just sent a message throughout the school that it is okay to bully anyone you want and if you are being bullied, you could be charged with a crime for reporting it. That’s the exact opposite of what should be taking place and the message sent to the students.
If I were the boy’s parent, I would not only appeal the judge’s ruling but I would be filing a lawsuit against the students involved in the harassment, the math teacher for not stopping it and the school administration for their wrongful behavior in punishing the victim and not the perpetrators. I would love to see one of the legal defense groups like Alliance Defending Freedom, American Center for Law and Justice or the Liberty Counsel to get involved. In the end, I believe the teacher, principal, associate principal and dean of students should all lose their jobs and that the rest of the faculty are ordered to attend anti-bullying classes.