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South Fayette: School superintendent's car vandalized

Sunday, November 02, 2003

By Eleanor Chute, Post-Gazette Education Writer

South Fayette police are trying to track down the person who they say tampered with the wheels on the car of school Superintendent Linda Hippert.

The wheels were apparently tampered with while Hippert was attending a contentious school board meeting Tuesday night at the high school. The meeting ran until 2:45 a.m. Wednesday.

Hippert said she noticed a noise when she drove her car home but initially attributed it to new tires installed on Tuesday.

Workers at Colussy Chevrolet in Bridgeville and South Fayette police inspected the car and determined that lug nuts from two wheels had been loosened or removed.

The wheels affected were the front driver's side wheel and the rear passenger side wheel.

Two lug nuts were missing from the rear tire while three lug nuts were loosened on the front tire, police said.

Gouges were also discovered on each of the wheel locks that were not there when the new tires were installed, indicating that a tool was used to tamper with the wheels, police said.

"I kept looking for another explanation," said Hippert."I'm hoping it was someone who, for whatever reason, made a bad choice and it was not ongoing."

The school board has offered an unspecified reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible.

Surveillance video taken of the high school parking lot the evening of the meeting has been sent to the FBI to see if it can be enhanced and a suspect identified.

Also, police are reviewing the list of people who attended the meeting.

South Fayette school officials have been embroiled over a controversy involving the discipline of cheerleaders and some members of the football, soccer and golf teams following an underage drinking party the students attended on Oct. 4.

Tuesday's school board meeting was attended by a number of parents who complained that the cheerleaders received harsher discipline than the others. Sixteen students were disciplined.

Seven cheerleaders were suspended for the remainder of the fall season, and one cheerleader was removed from the squad.

Four football players were suspended for one game, and two were removed from the team for the rest of the season. A golf team member was suspended for one match, and a soccer team member was given a one-game suspension.

At Tuesday's meeting, school board members upheld the disciplinary decisions made by the students' individual coaches, taking into account each student's level of involvement.

District officials noted that prior to the season, parents and cheerleaders signed an agreement that stated that underage alcoholic consumption "will be grounds for immediate dismissal from the cheer squad."

The agreement also states that failure to leave a party where there is underage drinking also could result in dismissal.

Eleanor Chute can be reached at or 412-263-1955.

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