Saturday, April 9, 2022

PA: Principal Charged With Wiretapping

File this under "Well At Least I'm Not Working At That School."

Edward Pietroski is the principal of Conneaut Area Senior High School (over in my northwestern corner of the state). Last November several faculty members at the school held a meeting. Months later, they learned that their principal, with the assistance of the assistance principal, had recorded the meeting without anyone's consent or knowledge. Whoops.

Last month, a criminal complaint was filed and Pietroski was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Adam Stallard, then released on non-monetary bond, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for later this month.

Pietroski is still working in the district, staying in the office, and having no contact with the four teachers who reported the recording. Other administrators within the district are being shuffled around to cover some of the workload. Pietroski has gotten himself a lawyer, but the discussion about who exactly would be funding his defense is still going on. The school website carries a message from the board:

The Board of School Directors has been fully informed regarding the matter involving the high school principal. The Board understands that the single criminal charge arises from the recording of a faculty meeting. As this involves an open and pending legal matter as well as a personnel matter, the Board cannot discuss further information at this time. The Board intends to comply with all legal requirements as this matter proceeds. For the present, the Board recognizes that under our system of justice, the principal carries a presumption of innocence. The Board will continue to assess the matter as it progresses.

What was Pietroski thinking? He's been through the wringer before (his previous gig was at a school that had a library book flap and before that he taught in Baltimore). Reportedly the investigation shows that he was recording the faculty meeting for one teacher who was not going to be able to attend. Staff members received copies of the recording; one told the teacher who had missed the meeting not to let anyone know that they had a recording. The "recording a meeting for a person who will be absent" seems innocuous, but it does raise questions. Why didn't the absent teacher just ask a colleague to record it on their phone? Why didn't anyone tell the teachers they were being recorded? And how bad do staff-administrations relations have to be (and Pietroski is a new-ish hire) for teachers to react to this news by taking it to the police? 

Right now everyone's keeping quiet. We'll see what more story comes out in the weeks ahead. The felony wiretapping charge carries a maximum penalty of seven years in jail and a $15,000 fine. 

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