From EAG News:
ALLENTOWN, Pa. – A Pennsylvania charter school teacher and self-professed minority rights activist will face dozens of criminal charges for leading hundreds of students on a September school walkout.
Former Medical Academy Charter School teacher Michael Frassetto, 29, faces 38 charges of corruption of minors for a Sept. 28 walkout he organized in which about 400 students ditched class to meet at the city’s Martin Luther King, Jr. monument, Philly.com reports.
Frassetto allegedly posted a video online urging students to trust him that they wouldn’t get in trouble for the walkout, and some were even apparently escorted in a limo to the statue, according to Lehigh Valley Ramblings.
Four days before the walkout, Frassetto led a group of students to an Allentown School Board meeting to air their grievances about the district’s treatment of minority students. When they were denied access for “fire code” reasons, the group allegedly banged on the glass of the meeting room to raise a ruckus.
At the student rally, some followed along with Frasseto’s chants of “they don’t care” and “We young. We strong. We marching all night long,” while others mulled around in small groups before abandoning the protest, according to the news site.
The charges against Frassetto stem from the student walkout, but other recent incidents in the district haven’t won him any fans in law enforcement, either.
“I think the man’s a hindrance,” Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin told the media following a November student fight at Medical Academy Charter School, where teens reportedly jumped police officers who responded to intervene.
The Allentown Morning Call reports Frassetto posted an edited video of the altercation repeatedly on Facebook, and released it to WFMZ, but would not turn over the footage to police investigators. Frassetto alleged the video revealed police brutality.
“That ought to tell you something,” Martin said.
“Here’s a man who purports to be a teacher and he’s encouraging kids to commit truancy back in September,” Martin said in November. “Had I had the ability, I would have charged him with something then.”
Allentown Police conducted an internal investigation into the Medical Academy fight officials contend revealed “no evidence that the officers of the Allentown Police Department that were involved acted inappropriately,” Chief Keith Morris told the Morning Call.
“Further, I believe that the officers of the Allentown Police Department showed a tremendous amount of restraint and should be commended for their hard work and dedication,” he said.
Police said officers arrived to break up a large fight involving about a dozen students shortly after 4 p.m. Nov. 13 and ordered them to disperse but were ignored.
“The students cursed and became belligerent, Morris said, and were given more opportunites to leave the area. When the students continued to disobey commands, police began to make arrests,” according to the news site.
“One of the most vocal offenders was a 17-year-old girl who punched an officer, police said …. After the girl was arrested, other juveniles humped on an officer’s back to keep the girl from getting arrested, police said. More officers arrived and ended up arresting four boys and three girls.”
Frassetto is still employed by Medical Academy but no longer teaches there, according to CEO Jose Rosado.
Rosado said the school board will discuss his fate at a meeting this evening, but would not discuss the reason for his suspension with Philly.com.
Frassetto repeatedly, unsuccessfully applied for positions with positions in the Allentown School District, and previously worked at Roberto Clemente Charter School but his contract was not renewed for the current school year, according to the news site.
The teacher’s criminal charges are summary offenses, which means he was mailed citations and will likely face a trial before a district judge. Those convicted of summary offences are typically issued a fine, Philly.com reports.
The Allentown School District issued a statement on the case Friday.
“Encouraging Allentown School District students to commit truancy by walking out of school during normal school hours is an unlawful disruption of the students’ educational process,” the statement read.
“While the Allentown School District supports freedom of expression, the district cannot condone actions in violation of the law. Therefore, the district’s high school and middle school administrators have taken legal action to hold the organizer, Michael Frassetto, responsible for his actions.”