Second Plum teacher arrested, accused of sex with student
For the second time in less than a week, police have arrested and accused a Plum High School teacher of having sex with a student.
Joseph J. Ruggieri, 40, of Plum, is an English teacher and vice president of the Plum Borough Education Association that represents the district’s 268 teachers.
Plum police arrested Ruggieri about 7 p.m. Tuesday in his home, Chief Jeffrey Armstrong said. Ruggieri is charged with one count each of institutional sexual assault and corruption of minors.
The student told police she had sex with Ruggieri in his home more than once, according to a criminal complaint, which did not provide her age but said she was a minor. They began talking on the phone and sending text messages in late 2014.
The student also told police she and Ruggieri would meet in the parking lot of the Community College of Allegheny County’s Boyce Campus in Monroeville.
Armstrong said Ruggieri declined to speak with police and was transported to Allegheny County Night Court. Court officials said he likely would be arraigned Wednesday morning.
According to Ruggieri’s Facebook page, he went to Chaminade High School in Mineola, N.Y.
In a Facebook passage, he wrote: “If you really know me, you know I am unapologetic of my expectations to earn my respect as a teacher. I just read a quote that sums up my career to now and my hopeful legacy …
“The best teachers are the ones who remain students at heart, the ones who keep learning from their students, and from the world around them, and from their own drive to know even more about even more things, and who then are able to transmit that knowledge — and more important, the drive to know more — to their students.”
He makes $101,500 a year.
Armstrong said Ruggieri came under investigation as authorities were looking into allegations against fellow high school teacher Jason Edward Cooper. Police charged him Feb. 11 with one count each of institutional sexual assault, furnishing alcohol to minors and corruption of minors. Police accuse Cooper, 38, of Monroeville of having sex with a 17-year-old female student. Cooper’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 22.
Armstrong said the investigation into Ruggieri continues.
“There are additional allegations involving the same teacher with other victims spread out over a couple years,” Armstrong said. “We are treating those (allegations) as a separate investigation.”
Plum Borough Education Association President Martha Freese did not return a message for comment.
Superintendent Timothy Glasspool issued a statement that read in part: “As you can imagine, this has been a difficult time for our students and staff. We are disheartened. We ask that as the courts determine the outcome of each case, all individuals within and outside the school system limit rumors and the spread of misinformation.”
School board President Sal Colella had no comment.
Tony Raap and Karen Zapf are staff writers for Trib Total Media.