Post-Gazette, June 22, 2000

Principal, teacher held for court-- Student testifies he was hit with rod
By Nate Guidry, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

On a scale of one to 10, "the pain was a 10," fifth-grader Jeffery Baur testified yesterday, recalling a whipping at the hands of his school's principal and a teacher.

Baur, 11, said he was bent over a chair and teacher Stephanie Galda held his hands as Principal Stephen Lazzaro struck him across the buttocks four times with a fiberglass rod March 27. He said he fell to the floor, crying. After a while, he stood up and prayed with Galda and Lazzaro.

They were praying for him to become a better student.

After a preliminary hearing yesterday, Lazzaro, principal of Faith Christian School in Wilkins, and Galda, who teaches fifth grade, were ordered to stand trial on charges of child endangerment and conspiracy. Lazzaro also will be tried for aggravated assault.

Lazzaro, 44, of Wilkins, and Galda, 34, of Sharpsburg, were disciplining Baur for an unsatisfactory homework assignment.

"Teachers need to use common sense, too," said Forest Hills District Justice Frank Comunale III. "Everyone isn't Einstein. The kid was chastised before for his behavior and homework."

During the preliminary hearing, Baur and his mother, Rose Baur, testified. Neither Lazzaro nor Galda testified.

Baur told the court he had been paddled in school before but never hit with a fiberglass rod. He said the beating felt "worse than a wasp sting" and left his buttocks bruised. The beating also broke the skin.

"I've been spanked with a paddle approximately five times," he said. "I know people that have been hit with the rod, but not me. The rod is usually used in extreme cases."

Rose Baur testified that she took pictures of the bruises and contacted police. The next day, she said, she took her son to Forbes Regional Hospital, where he was examined, more photos were taken and a report was prepared.

During cross-examination, Stanton Levenson, Lazzaro's attorney, asked Baur if she knew of the school's discipline policy, which spells out occasions when paddling is used.

"I consented to have my son paddled when I enrolled him in school," Baur said. "He has received the paddle before and each time he came home with a slip for me to sign indicating why it had happened. But I never consented to him being spanked with a rod."

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