Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Plum Directors Voice Dissent Two School Board Members Unhappy with Plan for Reforms after Sex Scandal

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Plum Directors Voice Dissent Two School Board Members Unhappy with Plan for Reforms after Sex Scandal

Article excerpt

Two members of the Plum school board say they disagree with a board statement indicating future changes in response to the district's teacher-student sex scandal will come through the board's Safe & Supportive Schools committee and its 25-member community steering committee.

School directors Michelle Stepnick and Michele Gallagher said they believe the board should be leading the charge in implementing changes such as a policy to restrict personal social media contact between teachers and students and training courses on how to recognize predators.

"I feel like they just pushed it off on the steering committee of citizens," Mrs. Stepnick said.

In addition, the board members said, a stand supported by the majority of the board to release all statements about the district's handling and reaction to the teacher arrests only through board president Sal Colella violates their constitutional rights to free speech. Both said they plan to speak for themselves in the future.

Michele Gallagher, who chairs both the board Safe & Supportive Schools Committee and the citizen steering committee of that board, said she was not consulted before the district statement was released at 9:55 p.m. Tuesday.

The release came about an hour after a three-hour series of school board committee meetings where finances, transportation, cafeteria issues and gym lights were discussed but no mention was made of the arrests of three teachers accused of having sexual relationships with female students at Plum High School.

At the meeting's adjournment, resident Bill Chapla demanded the board outline what it had done to make the high school safe for his son and other students given that exactly one week earlier, the third teacher - a former substitute - had been arrested. Criminal affidavits in that arrest indicate that the alleged sexual activity between the teacher and student took place in classrooms at the high school on about 10 occasions. …

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