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After scandal, Woodland Hills High principal returns to job | TribLIVE.com
Allegheny

After scandal, Woodland Hills High principal returns to job

Tribune-Review
| Monday, January 23, 2017 12:39 p.m
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Vernessa Hines, 32, of Forest Hills, and her attorney, Todd Hollis, speak with the media following a press conference outside of the Woodland Hills Administration Building on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. Hines' child, a 14-year-old, disabled student at Woodland Hills High School was verbally assaulted by the principal Kevin Murray.
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Todd Hollis, attorney for Vernessa Hines speaks with the media during a press conference outside of the Woodland Hills Administration Building on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. Hines' child, a 14-year-old, disabled student at Woodland Hills High School was verbally assaulted by the principal Kevin Murray.
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Vernessa Hines, 32, of Forest Hills, tears up during a press conference outside of the Woodland Hills Administration Building on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. Hines' child, a 14-year-old, disabled student at Woodland Hills High School was verbally assaulted by the principal Kevin Murray.
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Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Woodland Hills High School Principal Kevin Murray (left) listens to his attorney, Phillip DiLucente speak to the media at DiLucente's office downtown, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016.
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Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Kevin Murray, as seen Dec. 6, 2016.
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Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Kevin Murray, as seen Dec. 6, 2016.

Woodland Hills High School Principal Kevin Murray, who faced scrutiny after a controversial recording surfaced of him threatening a special-education student, has returned to school, the district superintendent confirmed.

Murray, who also serves as an assistant football coach, returned Wednesday.

Superintendent Alan Johnson said he disciplined Murray in connection with the recording but declined to reveal the punishment.

“I can’t really go into detail on what actions were taken from a disciplinary standpoint,” Johnson said Monday. “It was significant.”

In the recordings, which were captured by the teen on a cellphone in April and released in late November, Murray can be heard telling the 14-year-old student, “I’ll punch you right in your face, dude,” and “I’ll knock your (expletive) teeth down your throat.”

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr.’s office revealed this month that Murray would not face charges in connection with the recording. In a letter to Johnson, Zappala called Murray’s actions “inappropriate and arguably threatening.”

The incident in question stemmed from a disciplinary meeting after the student called an administrator a derogatory name, according to the teen’s attorney Todd Hollis.

However, it is illegal in Pennsylvania to record someone without permission unless there is not an expectation of privacy.

Murray was placed on paid leave Nov. 30 after the audio surfaced and stayed away from the school during criminal and administrative investigations.

Last week, the teen’s mother, Vernessa Hines, 32, told reporters, “I don’t want Murray in that school teaching or disciplining any other students.”

Hollis said the teen does not intend to return to the high school and is obtaining an education but declined to elaborate.

Murray has not returned messages left for him through his attorney, Phillip DiLucente, and Johnson.

The teen is not charged with a crime for recording Murray. However, he is accused of allegedly violating Pennsylvania’s wiretap law because of an unrelated recording authorities said he made in September during a meeting with school officials that was posted on social media. A preliminary hearing on those charges is scheduled for Feb. 27 in Allegheny County Juvenile Court.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991 or bschmitt@tribweb.com.

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