Uniontown school security guard charged with assaulting student

A security guard for a Fayette County school district is accused of shoving a 13-year-old student and slamming him to the floor when he refused an order to report to the principal’s office.

Michael Thomas Slater, 55, of Connellsville is charged by Uniontown police with simple assault and harassment in the March 4 incident at Lafayette Elementary-Middle School in the Uniontown Area School District.

Slater, who the district said is on unpaid leave, could not be reached for comment.

The boy’s mother, Kelly Blaker of Uniontown, said although her son is prone to angry outbursts, he was not aggressive and was walking away from Slater when police said Slater pushed him and slammed him to the gymnasium floor.

The whole situation is crazy, Blaker said. (He) was putting on his bookbag to remove himself from the situation, and (Slater) pushed him.

Slater went to the gymnasium at 11:20 a.m. when a teacher reported that the student was disruptive, Officer Mike Garrow said in an affidavit of probable cause.

The teen was arguing with boys who were mocking his shoes, Garrow said. He stomped across the gym floor to the stage, where he hid behind a curtain and ignored a teacher’s request to come out, Garrow said.

When Slater told the teen to report to the principal’s office, he uttered an expletive and refused, Garrow said.

The teen crossed the gym floor to get away from Slater, but Slater followed and repeated the order.

The boy swore at Slater a second time and walked to the top of bleachers to retrieve his bookbag, Garrow said in the affidavit. Slater then pushed the teen into the bleachers, Garrow said.

The two wrestled until the teen broke it off and ran across the gym floor, losing a shoe and falling. Slater caught up to him and the two wrestled again, and Slater used a leg-sweep maneuver to knock the boy to the floor.

The boy punched Slater in the face, knocking off his glasses, then throwing them across the gym floor, the complaint said.

A second security officer and a school counselor arrived and escorted the teen to the office, records show.

The student had a red mark on one shoulder, according to Garrow.

Slater was immediately suspended, said Charles D. Machesky, Uniontown Area superintendent.

Machesky said Slater’s actions were not in accordance with district policy.

Totally inappropriate. Not condoned.

Not sanctioned. Not what he was supposed to do, Machesky said.

Blaker said her son has behavioral and mental issues, but a plan is in place for employees to defuse potentially violent confrontations.

They are to give him three prompts to try to get him to stop before they remove him or take him to the office, she said.

Blaker said Slater had prior dealings with her son and was aware of the plan.

I’m just glad that it didn’t escalate, that (he) was able to keep himself calm, and did not hurt the security guard, Blaker said. It was wrong.

He knew what my son’s problems were, and he could have approached him in a better way.

School board President Kenneth G. Meadows declined comment because of the police investigation.

In general, with all of our employees, that is not something we condone, Meadows said.

Slater has worked for the district since Nov.

18, 2013, Machesky said. He completed state-required certification classes and formerly worked security for private firms.

Machesky said the district has 11 security officers, some of whom are armed.

Although a firearm is not at issue in the incident involving Slater, Machesky said the policy permitting some officers to be armed is under review.

I and other staff are re-examining it, the fact that some are armed, Machesky said. I’m not a real strong proponent of it. I don’t see an upside to it.

Slater, who doesn’t have an attorney listed, is to appear April 21 before Uniontown District Judge Michael Metros for a preliminary hearing.

Liz Zemba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or [email protected]1.

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