A South Fayette High School kid who stood up to bullies in his class by recording them to provide evidence has been arrested by the glorious US police and charged with spying. In February, the student made an audio recording of a bullying incident during his special education math class to show his mum how bad it was. Rather than rushing to deal with the bullying, school administrators defended the rights of the bullys and threatened to charge him with felony wiretapping. Eventually the school relented and agreed to reduce the charge to disorderly conduct and he was found guilty of that charge by District Judge Maureen McGraw-Desmet.
McGraw said that she had a big problem with any kind of bullying at school, but it was up to a parent would let the school know about it. In this situation, the school administrators were not aware of what was happening. The student and his mother, Shea Love, said that the boy has been repeatedly shoved and tripped at school, and that one of the bullies attempted to burn him with a cigarette lighter. The kid was a model student according to school records, but was diagnosed with “comprehension delay disorder.” He also has ADHD, and an anxiety disorder.
On February 11, after doing research on several anti-bullying websites, he used his school iPad to make a seven-minute audio recording of his classroom experience. He played the recording at home for his mother who transcribed the audio before calling school administrators. The school board’s bullying policy promises no retribution for reporting suspected bullying. However, its policy for abuse of electronic devices is disciplinary action and confiscation of the device.
Love says that upon fielding her complaint, Principal Scott Milburn called South Fayette Township copper Robert Kurta to the school to interrogate her son. The defendant was forced to play the audio for the group and then delete it. This removed all the evidence. Principal Milburn advised Love that her son was “facing felony wiretapping charges” because he made a recording in a place with an expectation of privacy.
The student told the court that he had made the recording so his mum understood what he was going though and he was not over exaggerating it. The school took the kid from the special education math class but the bullies remain enrolled and can no doubt catch up with him in the playground later.