Mt. Lebanon in the News

Since I live in Mt. Lebanon, some Pittsblog readers have wondered why I haven't written about the issue that has Lebo in the news this week. I have, but not on Pittsblog. If you want to read what I have to say about "The List," go over to BlogLebo. Today's post. Wednesday's post.

I will repeat here one piece of today's post, because it dovetails with something that leaders throughout the region should take to heart:

Among the many problems here is a failure of leadership -- not only a failure of [Mt. Lebanon School] District leaders to respond swiftly to an obvious crisis situation, but a failure of those leaders to anticipate that this could happen. Read through this recent summary of the best known and most widely-studied recent episode in successful crisis management -- Johnson & Johnson's response to the Tylenol poisonings of 20+ years ago -- and watch for echoes of what MtLSD could and should have done, and should do, differently.

Effective leaders anticipate and plan, and when the worst happens, they're immediately in control of the situation. "The List" came to light in Mt. Lebanon almost three weeks ago. When it was brought to the attention of school administrators, an effective immediate response could have kept it out of the Post-Gazette, out of the Tribune-Review, out of the hands of the police, and the courts, and out of what may become the national spotlight.


6 Responses to "Mt. Lebanon in the News"

Mark Stroup said... 4/28/2006 9:59 AM

The Trib is right (there, I said it!) in that this issue is technology related.

If everyone in my high school, who ever made a comment on a girl or boy's physical aspects were punished there'd be a whole lot of paddlin' going on. (Rating, that's a paddlin'. The use of a controlled male gaze. You better believe that's a paddlin'.)

E-mail, micro-publishing, and rating systems, can be powerful tools. So now we have children with powerful tools and adults that don't really understand them or ignore them. On the "Hot or Not Scale," this issue is a five out of five.

You're right that the Mt. Lebanon School Board should have taken a cue from the Johnson & Johnson playbook. On the other hand why should a suburban school board be as astute as a multi-billion dollar corporation? Perhaps if everyone toned down their pitch on this we might learn a little more and punish a little less.

Mark Rauterkus said... 4/28/2006 11:21 AM

Okay, its a "TECH Issue."

A YOUTH TECHNOLOGY SUMMIT would be a great place to talk abou TECH issues, such as this.

I've been pushing for the formation of a YOUTH TECH SUMMIT for a few years. Other areas of the country and world have them. Ours could be the biggest annual event at the Convention Center.

But the vision of this is more than just for the youth. Parents, teachers, administrators, techies, companies and academics need to come under one roof for 3 days to deal with these types of issues.

RjE said... 4/28/2006 5:26 PM

I still don't see what makes this worth talking about on the front page, above the fold, in the Post-Gazette. Yes the school and/or the parents and/or the students should do something about this, and I'm sure they will. But what about this is news?

Mike Madison said... 4/30/2006 9:53 AM

Mark --
Given how broadly the Tylenol episode has been studied and promoted by people who study and train both for-profit and not-for-profit leaders, I'm stunned that its lessons continue to be ignored. Or perhaps I shouldn't be; the point of the New Yorker piece that I linked to is that leaders at all levels are blinded by arrogance.
RjE --
It's not news, or at least, it shouldn't have been news, and it wouldn't have been, had the whole thing been handled properly in the first place. But the issue shouldn't be trivialized, even if it doesn't belong above the fold. The P-G's original coverage didn't take the time to make that point. Today's paper does a better job of putting the episode in context.

Anonymous said... 4/30/2006 8:06 PM

the real story here is the post gazette's continual downhill slide into mediocrity.

While the trib is investigating all these shadowy state funding activities legislators are using to enrich themselves and waste taxpayer money, the pg covers high school antics...This MT Lebo incident deserved coverage, but not on the front page of the paper trying to be the regional print news outlet...perhaps in the south section or in a local paper...

The PG has been out to lunch covering the state government ---which is as corrupt and out of control as it has been in decades.

They are MIA on the mon fayette expressway...perhaps the biggest and dirtiest public project in the country...

bring back the press

Natalia said... 5/01/2006 6:58 PM

Sorry for Mt. Lebanon, but failure of public leadership or not, I have no problem about this issue being in the PG, the Trib and the national spotlight. What happened was wrong, and hopefully this will be a lesson for other students and administrations to take sexual harassment seriously. It is not a joke.

The coverage of news stories is not mutually exclusive; time spent covering this issue is not taking away from the non-coverage of the Post-Gazette.

And as far as the Youth Tech Summit, no one is stopping you from putting this together, Mark! ;)

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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