Pittsburgh teen punished for recording alleged bullying wants policy changes, not ‘heads to roll’
Photo Courtesy: Shea Love
(FoxNews) A Pennsylvania teenager convicted of disorderly conduct for recording his alleged tormenters in class wants changes to the district’s zero tolerance policy rather than the wishes of his mother, who wants “heads to roll” for the incident.
Shea Love, 40, said her 15-year-old son, Christian, had long been victimized by fellow students in his special education math class at South Fayette High School in McDonald, Pa. So the frustrated sophomore made an audio recording of the alleged bullying using his iPad, which school officials forced him to delete upon learning of the 7-minute segment in February. He was later convicted of disorderly conduct and fined $25 plus court costs.
“What I want is for heads to roll,” Love told FoxNews.com. “But he said to me, ‘Mom, it might make you feel better if people get fired, but that won’t change anything.’ He said there needs to be more compassion for people and changes to the zero tolerance policy. I want people’s heads to roll, but my son doesn’t and I have to respect his wishes.”
Love’s son has been diagnosed with comprehension delay and anxiety disorders, as well as ADHD. Love said his special needs can be problematic to some.
“He has a low processing speed, the way he does everything is very slow,” she said. “And some people get very frustrated by that.”
Love said her only child hasn’t been the same since the alleged incident. He has lost at least 10 pounds, requires additional therapy sessions and has missed many days of school, she said.
“This has been just devastating,” Love continued. “I’m a single mom — it’s just him and I — and I feel like they were just trying to get us to shut up. Until people started caring, they didn’t care — and that’s pretty sad.”
Love said school officials, including Principal Scott Milburn and Superintendent Bille Pearce Rondinelli, contacted police for a possible violation of wiretapping laws, but did not discipline the students captured on the audio recording harassing her son.
According to a transcript of a March 19 court hearing obtained by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the teenager said he made the recording “because I always felt like it wasn’t me being heard.” He said classmates bullied him for several months.
“I wanted some help,” Christian Stanfield said. “This wasn’t just a one-time thing. This always happens every day in that class.”
According to the hearing transcript, district officials forced him to erase the recording and punished him with detention. He was charged with disorderly conduct after police decided the case did not warrant a felony wiretapping charge.
The teen is due to appear in court on April 29 at the Pittsburgh Court of Common Pleas to appeal the disorderly conduct conviction. If those charges are dropped and school officials apologize, Love said she won’t file a civil lawsuit against the district.
“Hopefully they will [apologize], but judging from past actions, I don’t think they will,” Love told FoxNews.com. “Every day he goes to school now and I just wait for a call. It sucks.”
District officials did not return messages seeking comment on Tuesday.
The boy’s attorney, Jonathan Steele, said he expects a forthcoming civil suit regardless of what happens later this month.
“The damage is done,” Steele told FoxNews.com. “In terms of an apology, that’d be great, but the student has already suffered psychological damage, emotional trauma and increased therapy, which he truly needs because of what happened to him. He feels like a criminal.”