The principal of Woodland Hills Junior/Senior High School has been placed on paid administrative leave following accusations that he harassed a 14-year-old student with special needs for months, Woodland Hills School District officials said Wednesday.
The student recorded one of the alleged incidents, and the audio recording now has Principal Kevin Murray facing wiretap violations. Mike Manko, a spokesman for Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., issued the following statement:
"It's important to note that cases involving potential violations of the wiretap act are complicated. We have been in touch with Churchill Police and we will be detailing our own detectives to assist them. We are hopeful that the additional work will only take a couple of days after which District Attorney Zappala will inform the public about the investigation."
“I don’t need the police, man. I’ll knock your (expletive) teeth down your throat,” the principal is allegedly heard saying on the recording. “I don’t give a (expletive) if you’re 14 years old or not. I will punch you in your face, and when you go down to court, it’s your word versus mine. And mine wins every time.”
WPXI’s Marlisa Goldsmith sat down with Woodland Hills Superintendent Al Johnson Wednesday as he listened to the recording given to Channel 11 News by the student's family.
“I mean, there’s no way I’m going to say I support that. Obviously I can’t condone any administrator using that kind of language with a student in any context or for any reason,” Johnson said.
Murray has been with the school district for seven years. Johnson said minimal complaints have been filed against Murray during his time working in the district.
"Obviously, he has to go. His attitude, his behavior, is unacceptable,” said Todd Hollis, a personal injury and civil rights attorney who represents the student’s family.
Hollis said while the conversation was recorded back in April, the student’s mother just discovered the recording on her child’s phone within the week.
“This video was born because the child was reaching out for help that he couldn't get. He reached out to various counselors, he reached out to various educators and no one believed him,” Hollis said.
The student’s mother told Channel 11 News over the phone that her son had been harassed by administrators for months, and she hopes the audio recording will serve as evidence to get him the help and support he needs.
The superintendent said the internal investigation is ongoing, but he does not expect it to take long.
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