A former Mt. Lebanon teacher was sentenced Monday to three years of probation and banned from classrooms for life after pleading guilty to sending sexually explicit messages and texts to a student.
Jason Greenawalt, 33 pleaded guilty to one felony charge of criminal use of communications and one misdemeanor charge of corruption of minors. Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jill E. Rangos sentenced him to three years of probation Monday, and ordered him to have no contact with the victim.
Defense attorney Phil DiLucente said he was pleased that the plea deal included dropping the felony charge of unlawful contact with a minor, since, he said, the relationship never advanced beyond texts and messages into physical contact.
"I think the most important message here is if you’re a teacher or if you’re working with children whatsoever, texting is unacceptable. Don't even get close to the line,” DiLucente said.
With his plea, Greenawalt would not have to register as a “Megan's Law” sex offender, DiLucente said.
“It was a mistake, and now he’s paying for it,” DiLucente said.
In March, police accused Greenawalt of exchanging explicit messages starting in 2010 with a then-sophomore boy at Mt. Lebanon High School, where Greenawalt directed the choir and high school musicals.
Police said the messages, which were reciprocated by the student, were sent via cellphone and the messaging feature on a website, and they continued after the student graduated in 2012.
Greenawalt claimed the text messages were “all in fun,” but the unnamed student complained that the texts went too far.
According to the criminal complaint, one of the texts read, “We can’t be anything until you graduate. When you graduate, we can do something.”
The school district suspended Greenawalt without pay following his arrest and terminated him effective May 20, said spokeswoman Cissy Bowman.
Donna Kurland, who has a teenage son in the school district, said she’s satisfied with the plea deal.
"They are legally children and they are deserving of protections,” Kurland said.
Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.