Michelle Kovach railed at the board for more than eight minutes, describing a culture of ignorance and cover up among school officials whom she claims buried her complaints.
Kovach said recent teen suicides dredged up her daughter's horrible experiences at the school. She recalled an incident where a teacher mocked Kailee for raising her hand to answer a question. Kovach said the tipping point was when her daughter was jumped and physically attacked. That was nearly three years ago. Kailee, according to her mom, is thriving now.
Pittston Area leaders have endured a spike in bullying complaints.
Tuesday night marked the board's first official meeting since two students died last month as a result of suicide. Investigators at the district attorney's office confirmed they're still probing the deaths to determine if there was any connection to bullying.
Board members voted unanimously to hire outside legal counsel at an hourly rate of $150 to investigate a complaint against a middle school teacher who was accused of verbally deriding a student last month. Eyewitness News broke the story where it's claimed the female teacher launched into an attack on the student, telling him she and other teachers couldn't stand him. The district has not identified the teacher. The board will now utilize special counsel to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed with a hearing. The ultimate decision, including potential dismissal, will rest with school directors.
The teacher, whom Eyewitness News is not identifying, hasn't responded to requests for comment.
The parents of the student was who was allegedly bullied by the teacher removed him from Pittston Area schools.
Also a flashpoint at the meeting, a poorly written letter from the Pittston chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. Authored by Rocco D'Angelo, union vice president, the letter attacked parents for their alleged inadequacies. The document was leaked to the I-Team and followed an exclusive Eyewitness News report on the middle school teacher bullying incident. D'Angelo initially questioned how a reporter got his home phone number, which is listed in the public White Pages. He then declined to comment beyond saying he stood by what he wrote.
Two school board members last week said the union's letter would be discussed in a private executive session, which would have been a violation of the state's Sunshine Law. Eyewitness News complained to the board's attorney before the meeting. Joe Saporito said the district would follow the Sunshine Law. Board members later confirmed to Eyewitness News the executive session dealt only with personnel issues.
The letter has proved to be a wall, according to at least one parent, who claims the teachers' unions has spawned an us-against-them mentality.
Michelle Hogan called the letter "discouraging and insulting" when addressing the school board.
Others claim the unions' leadership is attempting to run from the harsh words written in the letter.
Multiple requests for interviews of union leaders D'Angelo and Meredith McGlynn, president, have been repeatedly ignored.