The parents of a 12-year-old girl at the South Allegheny Middle School in McKeesport, PA discovered a series of disturbing texts on their daughter’s cell phone. The sender turned out to be 23-year-old Cole McLaughlin, a first-year social studies teacher at the school.
According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, McLaughlin wrote to the girl that “I love everything. I just want you to be close to me. So badly. I love you so much…” and “I love you too angel. I miss you.” The complaint alleges that McLaughlin hugged the girl repeatedly in school and kissed her twice, but does not contain any charges of sexual assault. McLaughlin was charged with “corruption of a minor.”
In a letter posted briefly to the district Web site (and since removed), Superintendent Wayne Gdovic said that McLaughlin had been fired:
This former Middle School Teacher was no longer an employee of the South Allegheny School District as of yesterday afternoon and was a first year teacher who was hired by the School District in August of 2014 based on an exhaustive background check and interview process which provided no indication that the teacher would engage in any misconduct with a student. That former Middle School Teacher did not report for work on Monday; was not permitted to report for work yesterday; and has had no contact with any students or any teaching presence in any school buildings since the School District first became aware of alleged misconduct.
Sources report that following his arraignment on April 21, McLaughlin was being held in the Allegheny County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 5.