Pittsburgh Mifflin school parents object to volunteer with criminal record

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People with criminal records should not be allowed to work with children in Pittsburgh Public Schools, outraged parents of Pittsburgh Mifflin PreK-8 students told school board members and district officials Monday night.

About two dozen parents and grandparents attended, and more than a half-dozen -- several of them visibly angry and at least one of them in tears -- testified that a fellow parent, community activist Lutual M. Love Sr., should not be allowed to volunteer at the Lincoln Place school because of misdemeanor convictions for drug and drug paraphernalia possession in 2002 and drug possession in 1997.

"Just imagine if something happened to one of my kids," said Scott Buckley of Lincoln Place, who has two children attending Mifflin. "I'd hold every single one of the people on that board responsible."

Mr. Love also pleaded guilty in the 1960s to involuntary manslaughter and was charged in 1975 with statutory rape, corruption of minors and promoting prostitution -- charges that ultimately were dismissed and that he has said were unfounded. Although originally scheduled to speak at Monday night's hearing, Mr. Love did not appear and did not return phone calls.

Schools superintendent Linda Lane, who attended Monday's hearing, said Mr. Love apparently has clearances to work with children in spite of his criminal record; some offenses preclude volunteering in schools, but his do not, she said. District officials, she said, will meet with Mr. Love, the protesting parents and the school's principal, Edward Littlehale, to try to resolve the problem.

"Clearly, it's something where we'll have to get with parents and work through it," Ms. Lane said.

Volunteer clearance requirements apply only to volunteers who will be present in school or at school-sponsored events of 15 or more days in one school year; are serving as coaches; might provide services or attend an event where they might be alone with students; or will accompany students on an overnight trip, according to district policy. Clearances are not required for parents or other family member volunteers for supervised classroom and school activities, according to the district.

Mr. Love, vice president of Mifflin's parent-teacher association, runs an anti-bullying program at Mifflin and also volunteers as a school ambassador for A+ Schools, for the Hazelwood African-American Forum, and for the anti-bullying advocacy group Bully Police USA.

In 2010, city officials canceled a summer work program at the Hazelwood YMCA and reassigned 19 youth workers because of Mr. Love's involvement in the program. Although Mr. Love and other staffers had clearances and met the Y's criteria for employment, the city Law Department told Y officials that the city would not tolerate anything more serious than a summary offense on an employee's record, according to Y branch manager Tendai Matambanadzo.

education - neigh_city

Amy McConnell Schaarsmith: aschaarsmith@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1719.


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