BETHEL PARK (KDKA) — A 17-year-old Bethel Park High School junior has been suspended for nine days after he posted a controversial Snapchat photo.
It shows him standing in front of a confederate flag in his room at home, with the caption, “they should all hang.”
The boy’s father, Joseph Pusateri, says his son meant no harm, and the comment was not directed at people, but, rather, it was a reference to confederate flags.
“Kids are, nowadays, listening to a lot of country music and kind of acting like rednecks and stuff like that,” he said. “And you know, they’re basically singling my son out as a racist based on a photograph.”
The boy, a special ed student, who divides his school day between regular classes and a tech program, posted the Snapchat photo after he claims he was confronted by a group of African-American students while leaving school last Wednesday, and a girl in the group punched him three times.
“I went home and then I took a Snapchat of myself in front of a confederate flag and the caption line said, ‘they should all hang,’ and I never meant that to be racist or anything — I never meant for anyone to hang,” said the student.
Pusateri’s lawyer believes the boy was denied due process by the district because hit didn’t give him a proper hearing.
“My kid’s being singled out and we’re not being treated as, like a Bethel Park parent should be treated, or family should be treated for that matter,” said Pusateri.
Attorney Karen Urbanik-Gangine says the teen has learning disabilities, and Attention Deficit Disorder, adding, “he obviously didn’t communicate effectively.”
She believes school security cameras captured his being punched on video, but she has not been allowed to see that video yet.
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