City police said they arrived at a Hill District home yesterday morning to find two city school workers, one of them a nun, shaken and out of breath, their faces scratched and swollen.
"We were both just beaten," Patricia Helvy, a social worker at Pittsburgh Brashear High School, told officers.
Police charged Lisa Malloy, 39, of 300 Elmore Square, with two counts of aggravated assault in the attack on Ms. Helvy and Sister Christiana Danko, a nurse practitioner at the high school in Beechview.
The pair, both in their 60s, had driven one of Mrs. Malloy's daughters home from school because she was upset, shaking, unable to walk and acting erratically, according to a criminal complaint. A second daughter who attends Brashear also made the ride home.
"Miss Lisa, are you there?" Ms. Helvy reportedly shouted when she arrived at the Malloys' front door.
Mrs. Malloy appeared at the door and, as the workers began explaining the situation, she began yelling obscenities and accused the two of kidnapping her daughters, according to the complaint.
She threw Ms. Helvy to the ground, then grabbed Sister Christiana by the throat, dragged her along the sidewalk, threw her against a cyclone fence and punched her repeatedly in the face and head. She then returned to Ms. Helvy, straddled her, pulled her hair and repeatedly struck her in the head, the complaint said.
"They really were scared for their lives," Pittsburgh Public Schools spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said.
A passer-by called police, and the workers eventually made their way to the opposite side of the street, according to the complaint.
City police spokeswoman Diane Richard said the workers were treated by medics at the Zone 2 police station on Centre Avenue. Ms. Pugh said they were transported to UPMC Mercy, treated and released.
Mrs. Malloy last night was in the Allegheny County Jail, awaiting arraignment. In an interview, her husband, James Malloy, said his family has had a series of disputes with school district officials over the way his 10 children have been treated.
He said he and his wife were angry that school officials took their daughters out of school for what he said was nothing more serious than a stomachache.
Mr. Malloy said the conversation became "boisterous" and turned physical when the school workers cut short the argument and made to leave.
"They were all tussling. They were all at it," Mr. Malloy said.
Neither Ms. Helvy nor Sister Christiana could be reached last night.
Ms. Pugh said the school workers didn't believe the ill daughter needed an ambulance and decided to take her home in someone's personal vehicle after failing to reach her parents by phone. Driving a student home isn't unusual, she said, adding district officials want school workers to be visible in city neighborhoods.
Joe Smydo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1548.