Because Michael Frassetto, 29, encouraged hundreds of students to walk out of Allentown School District schools on September 28, he is facing at least 38 charges of the corruption of minors.
The charges are what is known as summary offenses and are similar to criminal mischief. Frassetto claimed that the district was failing minority students, says Jacqueline Palochko of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The penalty for such offenses is typically a fine.
“Encouraging Allentown School District students to commit truancy by walking out of school during normal school hours is an unlawful disruption of the students’ educational process,” the district said in a statement released Friday.
“While the Allentown School District supports freedom of expression, the district cannot condone actions in violation of the law,” it said. “Therefore, the district’s high school and middle school administrators have taken legal action to hold the organizer, Michael Frassetto, responsible for his actions.”
In the last ten days, charges were filed at various district courts in Allentown by seven Allentown principals. Frassetto has been relieved of his duties at the Medical Academy Charter School but is still employed, according to the Catasauqua school’s CEO, Jose Rosado.
Frassetto and the students involved in the walkout have called for the resignation of Allentown Superintendent Russ Mayo, are asking for a summer employment program, and are requesting a representative on the school board who is chosen by the students.
The teacher and a group of students tried to enter an Allentown School Board meeting on September 24 but were denied access based on a fire code mandate against overcrowding. He also led hundreds of students to Allentown’s statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. for a day of protest and teaching on September 28.
Frassetto told students they would not get in trouble, but school attendance is mandated by law. The students were given unexcused absences that are a Level II minor offense. Other offenses in this category are bullying, tardiness, excessive talking, and loitering.
Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin called the teacher a “hindrance” on November 17 based on his involvement in seven teens from the Medical Academy Charter School being arrested for allegedly attacking an officer who was attempting to stop an after-school fight in south Allentown on November 13. Frassetto and some of the young people said the police were using excessive force during those arrests.
At a news conference, Martin vented his frustration with Frassetto. When Frassetto was asked to comment on Martin’s words, he said he had not heard what the attorney said, so he wouldn’t address Martin’s comments.
WFMZ-TV News reports that Frassetto is the head of the United Youth Party and that the teacher said the walkout was a call for change in the district. Martin stated that he was calling for tougher laws against young people who use violence against police officers. The attorney admitted that he would have liked to charge Frassetto in September when he contributed to the truancy of kids, but, unfortunately, he did not have the ability under the law to do so.