Target: South Fayette District Judge Maureen McGraw-Desmet
Goal: Reverse the legal ruling that punishes a high school victim of bullying
Recently, a 15-year-old student at South Lafayette High School in Pennsylvania recorded an instance of bullying on his iPad. Instead of having the proof needed to reprimand his tormentors, the high school principal turned him over to the authorities for “illegal wiretapping.” This boy tried to protect himself when the school failed to do so, and now is being charged in court for misconduct. There is something very wrong with this situation. Sign this petition to tell Judge Maureen McGraw-Desmet to reverse her ruling punishing the victim of bullying.
The 15-year-old student has ADHD, comprehension delay disorder, and an anxiety disorder, making him the target of some classroom bullies. The student spoke up before, and his mother Shea Love even reported incidents to the principal’s office to no avail. The principal and vice principal simply dismissed these events, saying it did not qualify as “bullying” according to the school. Apparently taunting, physical harm, and spitwads are not considered forms of bullying by the South Lafayette High School.
When the student finally took matters into his own hands and used his iPad to record students bullying him, he took his evidence to the principal. Students are clearly overheard threatening to pants him, and shouting at him for several minutes. Instead of taking the bullying seriously, the principal called the local police about a case of wiretapping. Lieutenant Robert Kurta told the student to get rid of the recording and charged him with disorderly conduct. From there, the case passed to Judge Maureen McGraw-Desmet, who decided to fine the boy and order him to pay all court costs.
This case was mishandled by nearly every authority in this boy’s city. By his principal, for not taking the bullying seriously; for the police, in charging this as a wiretapping case; and for the judge, who failed to recognize him as an abused victim of bullying and instead charging him with misconduct. What message does this send to suffering students? Speak up about your bullying, and the system will blame you. Sign this petition and tell Judge McGraw-Desmet to reverse her decision and extend this boy some much-needed protection.
Dear Judge McGraw-Desmet,
I recently learned about your ruling concerning the 15-year-old bullying victim who recording his tormentors on an iPad. You charged him with misconduct, ordering him to pay a fee and pay court costs. This student needed your protection and instead you gave him punishment.
Bullying is a serious issue in America; only 4% of teachers nationwide intervene in bullying situations. Students need to feel safe at school. How can anyone be expected to learn when they are constantly afraid of what their peers will do next?
Please reverse your court decision and instead support this boy who was brave enough to get evidence of his bullies and bring it to the authorities.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Virginia Sea Grant via Flickr