Family claims negligence in 12-year-old’s attack at Pressley Ridge


RECOVERY—The 12-year-old received 52 stitches at Children’s Hospital.


It took doctors at Children’s Hospital 52 stitches to repair cuts on the face and neck of a 12-year-old boy whose family says was attacked at Pressley Ridge Day School in the North Side. According to the boy’s mother, Sheheda Manley, and grandmother, Tamara Bailey, he was attacked with a broken plate by a 16-year-old in the cafeteria of the school on Sept. 18.

Now his family is looking for answers.

“Our question is why was a 12-year-old in the cafeteria with a 16-year-old,” said Bailey. “It took four or five staff members to get this child off of my grandson.”

Pressley Ridge is a school and partial hospitalization program for youth with serious emotional disturbances or behavior problems.

The 16-year-old involved in the incident was placed on a 10-day hold at Shuman Juvenile Detention Center and is facing assault charges. Bailey and Manley said they are looking into suing the 16-year-old’s family and also Pressley Ridge for negligence.

“We want him not to be around children because he could do something that would be fatal,” Manley said. “My thing is to seek justice from the school for their negligence.”

The 12-year-old, who was referred to Pressley Ridge after being diagnosed with child schizophrenia, has since been removed from the school and will be homeschooled with his brother, who was also attending Pressley Ridge.

“He’s traumatized by this; he’s having nightmare,” Manley said.

In their search for answers, the 12-year-old boy’s family requested video footage of the incident from cameras stationed in the cafeteria, but say they were told the camera’s haven’t worked for five or six years.

“Why did it take so long for the staff to help my grandson? I don’t think there were enough staff members in the cafeteria,” Bailey said. “You’re supposed to watch these children every move, especially when you’re dealing with children with mental issues.”

The New Pittsburgh Courier contacted Pressley Ridge for answers to the family’s questions and information on their safety procedures.

“Our concern is with our students and families involved in this very unfortunate, but isolated incident. Pressley Ridge’s primary focus is to help children who face serious emotional and behavioral challenges. We are dedicated to protecting the safety, health and well-being of our children and families and the community,” said Kelley Reed, Pressley’s Ridge’s brand and media coordinator. “

We, at Pressley Ridge, take situations of this nature very seriously and are deeply concerned for the welfare of all of our students at all times. Pressley Ridge is working closely with the families and City of Pittsburgh Police to investigate the incident fully and determine the facts. If there are any further questions regarding this incident, individuals should contact the Pittsburgh City Police Department.”

According to Reed, Pressley Ridge is not required to have video cameras installed. With regard to staff in the cafeteria at the time of the incident, Reed said there was seven staff present to monitor the 14 students having lunch.

“Our staff is trained in Therapeutic Crisis Invention, a crisis prevention and intervention model in which each staff member must complete an additional three weeks of in-service training each year,” Reed said. “Both students involved in this incident were previously evaluated to attend the same lunch group.”

A hearing for the 16-year-old is scheduled for Sept. 26.

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