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School Board Accused Of Cover Up After Special Needs Teen Tormented And Put On A “Hit List”

Haley Kennington

A teenage girl in Delaware County was reportedly put on a public “hit list” and subject to unrelenting bullying from classmates for several years. The girl’s mother claims the school principal attempted to have her child involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility without parental knowledge or approval.

Parents are now accusing the school board of both negligence and covering up incidents perpetrated against their child.

The girl’s mother, Liz Finnegan, shared screenshots taken from a Discord server that showed her daughter had been put on a “hit list” by four girls from the local high school and middle school.

The teen spoke to a guidance counselor about the abuse she’d endured but no actions were taken to stop the ongoing harassment.

Finnegan and her husband have asked school administrators repeatedly for help. However, no tangible action has been taken against those responsible for torturing the girl every day.

On April 27, 2023, the entire family attended the Northley Middle School school board meeting in Aston, PA to address the administration’s negligence and overreach towards their daughter.

Finnegan recently shared clips on Twitter of the meeting.

“This evening I begged the school board to help my daughter, who has been viciously bullied and was put on a hit list. I paid $11 to share my statement in full here (with her permission),” she tweeted.

“A group of four district teenagers created a hit list online naming classmates, parents, and a Northley teacher as targets. Two of these teenagers are current Northley Middle School students, the other two are in high school, currently doing their schooling virtually, with a plan to return in person to Sunvalley High School next year,” the mother said.

Finnegan said that this harassment had gone on for years.

“One of the girls involved felt so uncomfortable about what was happening that she warned us about it.”

The mother gave the board additional details of the harassment her daughter had endured for years under Penn-Delco school district’s watch.

Finnegan said that after her daughter was sexually assaulted in fifth grade. The incident was reported. However, those involved rallied their friends and began harassing the victim daily. The bullying continued through both sixth and seventh grade.

This eventually spread beyond the middle school and high school students joined the ongoing harassment.

The girl’s mother stated that her daughter became so depressed she began to self-mutilate. The family made the decision to have the teen hospitalized. This was only after she had reported thoughts of suicide to a school counselor in 2020.

Finnegan said her daughter began eighth grade full of optimism, believing she would no longer be a victim of the bullies’ continued harassment.

However, after only a few weeks, her daughter was reportedly verbally harassed when classmates learned she had been hospitalized for suicidal ideations, self-harm and depression.

“One student threatened to kill my daughter and her family,” Finnegan said.

She also explains that after her daughter confided in a teacher about her feelings of depression, the school’s principal, Ryan Buterbaugh, attempted to have the teen involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital.

Buterbaugh called Finnegan in the middle of the day to inform her that her child was en route to a mental health facility. He called back moments later to say he’d made a mistake, the teen was still on school property.

“He did it so carelessly and thoughtlessly, he didn’t even realize she was still in the building,” Finnegan said.

In addition to the clip, Finnegan shared an image showing a stack of evidence she had prepared for school board members.

“I printed packets of evidence for each member of the board, and on top reference to different policies they have (and didn’t follow) with key sections highlighted. Although I truly don’t know if they each got one, the solicitor took the whole stack.”

Finnegan’s husband also addressed the board on April 27. Finnegan says the District Superintendent Dr. George Steinhoff and school board president Leon Armour laughed in response to the father’s comments.

“Her dad also spoke about what our daughter has gone through. He detailed the physical assaults of our daughter in elementary school that – until he went to the board and called them out – weren’t handled. He was kicked out for briefly mentioning how much the Superintendent makes,” Finnegan wrote.

In the four-minute clip, the girl’s father says the last time he spoke publicly to the board, they edited his comments down to two sentences and removed anything that pointed to the board’s negligent handling of what happened to his daughter on school grounds.

“No details about her being sexually assaulted or being groped. No details about how nothing was happening until I came here and went off.” the father said.

He also noted that some of the physical attacks on his daughter were “eventually handled,” but nothing to date regarding her being sexually assaulted on school property had been addressed.

It wasn’t until the father brought up Dr. Steinhoff’s yearly salary that Armour began to push back verbally.

Armour told the father, “You’re done. You’re not going to address our superintendent that way.” Mr. Finnegan had simply referred to Dr. Steinhoff as “Quarter-Million Dollar Man.”

Armour asked the father to remove himself from the board meeting.

As he left, the father held print-outs of deleted tweets and statements made by Steinhoff when students reached out concerned for their safety after a school shooting.

The father handed a copy to Steinhoff, before leaving the room.

School board’s Leon Armour (President) and Kevin Tinsley (Vice President)

The teen’s grandmother also read a statement the young girl wrote to the board, which Finnegan added to the tweet thread.

“I want to go back to school, 100 percent, but I am so, so scared. I feel like I will be physically harmed in that school. I feel so mentally drained every time I leave and I dread every time I need to enter. Every time I try to ask for help, I either back down or the teacher acts like I’m just an idiot. Even my special-ed teacher. And the fact that I have been ignored for years really sucks. I feel like my opinion, my feelings, my emotions, my hard work just doesn’t matter. And by work, I don’t mean just schoolwork. I mean driving myself in and out of the school every day. I mean fighting back against the bullies and then I get in trouble or, I’m the one who was talked about how I could change my approach. For example, the people who told me to kill myself or the people who have said to me, ‘Oh, you have barcode arms,’ and then I say eff off or something, I’m the one the teacher turns to talk to.”

The young teen says she feels lost and says it’s like “entering a maze of monsters that are out to kill me.”

The teen says she has reoccurring dreams of being killed by the bullies. “I deal with night terrors anytime I have a dream, and when it isn’t a nightmare, it’s either nothing or just no sleep,” she said.

The young girl then thanks her bus driver who she says checks in on how much sleep she’s getting, offering new ways to try to fall asleep. She says he also tells those on the bus who bully her to “knock it off.”

“The only person involved in the school that has done anything to genuinely stand up for me is my bus driver,” she says. “Thank you so much. Thank you for being there for me and helping me feel safe.”

The teen’s statement ends with her saying, “What this all comes down to is that I don’t feel safe within my own school. My eighth grade year is supposed to be the happiest year ever. But I can’t even go to school because the other kids want me dead. I can’t go back. I can’t get back the time that they have already taken from me. But hopefully, you can fix it so I can finish the rest of the school year just like other kids.”

Finnegan explained her reasoning for posting the video clips on Twitter.

“I’m posting these videos because last time we went to the board with this shit they removed the statements from the official video. Wanna make sure they’re out there this time. I have more, just have to edit the beginning of each where people state their addresses.”

Before the April 27 school board meeting, Finnegan shared a voicemail clip to Twitter that had been left for Finnegan’s daughter by the aunt of one of the bullies.

“To everyone recommending going to these girls’ parents – this is a voicemail the aunt/guardian of one of the girls left for my 13-year-old child (she forgot to block her number) so no unfortunately I don’t see that helping.”

On Twitter, Finnegan mentioned that the video from a particular meeting has not been published online yet.

In response, she submitted a Right To Know request for the full video, which should have been responded to within five business days as per the law.

However, the district informed the girl’s mother that they would need additional time to upload the videos, which normally takes only a few days.

The mother shared screenshots of YouTube censoring the family’s clips addressing the school board.

The video was edited to remove her statement and important details about in-school abuse, falsely claiming it contained privileged information about a student.

“They posted the video and cut out my statement AND left out all the information about the repeated multiyear IN SCHOOL ABUSE and also incorrectly claimed it was because I shared ‘privileged information about a student.’ I posted the entire video. I didn’t name a single person.”

“They also cut out the entire statement my daughter prepared for this meeting and my mother read for her detailing the horrific IN-SCHOOL abuse she has suffered. Again, no fucking names were mentioned. Not even her own,” Finnegan added.

Finnegan expressed frustration in the thread, emphasizing that none of the teen’s family members doxxed anyone during their address to the board.

They criticized the Penn-Delco School District for removing important statements before uploading the videos on YouTube.

During the address, the teen’s mother mentioned her daughter’s month-long absence due to safety concerns. While praising some board members’ attempts to address the situation by assigning a special bathroom and adjusting class departure times, she highlighted that it puts the burden on her daughter rather than addressing the harassment she faced.

Finnegan pointed out the limited scope of the board members’ plan and emphasized that the principal, superintendent, and board are not bound by those limitations.

The mother called for more action to protect children from abuse and harassment within the school system.

Finnegan concluded, “We need to fix this for our kids.”

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Haley Kennington

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