Video captures a resource officer using a Taser on a student at Woodland Hills High School.

Former students sue Pittsburgh-area district over excessive force complaints

Aug. 23, 2017
Federal lawsuit says the Woodland Hills district allowed a culture of abuse that resulted in injuries to students.

Five former students and their families have sued the Woodland Hills (Pa.) School District, alleging a culture of abuse at the hands of high school administrators, security members and school resource officers.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the former students accuse former principal Kevin Murray, two police officers and a private security team of physical assault, intimidation and filing false criminal charges against them in separate incidents. They accuse the 

Todd Hollis and Timothy O’Brien, attorneys for the students, contend that district leadership and other administrators ignored the alleged abuse.

They “created and/or acquiesced in a culture of verbal abuse, excessive force and intimidation,” the suit reads.

Four students have said in recent months that they were mistreated by Murray and school resource Officer Steve Shaulis. On Wednesday, the attorneys representing the former students said that a fifth has forward with a similar story.

Murray was placed on administrative leave last year while the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office investigated allegations of mistreating students, but he was reinstated in January after investigators declined to pursue criminal charges. He was on an unpaid leave since July because of problems with his administrator certification, and last week he resigned as principal and football coach at Woodland Hills High.

One of the student plaintiffs said Shaulis hit him so hard earlier this year that his front tooth fell out. The FBI and the district attorney’s office are investigating whether Shaulis used excessive force.

In a 2015 incident, a student was pinned to the floor by Murray while the officer shocked the student with a Taser.

The suit alleges that the plaintiffs, all of whom are black, have been discriminated against because of their race; it also contends that some were discriminated against because of their disabilities.

Video from April 2017 (WTAE-TV):

Sponsored Recommendations

Providing solutions that help creativity, collaboration, and communication.

Discover why we’re a one-stop shop for all things education. See how ODP Business Solutions can help empower your students, school, and district to succeed by supporting healthier...

Building Futures: Transforming K–12 Learning Environments for Tomorrow's Leaders

Discover how ODP Business Solutions® Workspace Interiors partnered with a pioneering school system, overcoming supply chain challenges to furnish 18 new K–12 campuses across 4...

How to design flexible learning spaces that teachers love and use

Unlock the potential of flexible learning spaces with expert guidance from school districts and educational furniture providers. Discover how to seamlessly integrate adaptive ...

Blurring the Lines in Education Design: K–12 to Higher Ed to Corporate America

Discover the seamless integration of educational and corporate design principles, shaping tomorrow's leaders from kindergarten to boardroom. Explore innovative classroom layouts...