A Northern High School teacher is facing trial on charges including child endangerment for having her ear pierced by a ninth-grader during class, then letting that student pierce a classmate's navel, according to police.
April Beard, 37, of 185 Wilson Road in Newberry Township, is free on recognizance bail, charged with endangering the welfare of a child and corruption of minors -- both first-degree misdemeanors -- and two counts of violating the state's law on body-piercing of minors, which are third-degree misdemeanors for a first offense.
"The whole incident was a lapse in judgment," said Robert Daniels, Beard's attorney. "At the time, she had no idea it was illegal to be pierced by a student."
Beard resigned, he said.
"She's not going to be a teacher anymore," Daniels said. "She's devastated she's lost a career she loves. ... She's a good person and, from what I understand, she was a good teacher."
Carroll Township Police said the piercing incidents happened two months ago in Beard's eighth-period class.
Piercing talk: According to charging documents, Beard had several conversations over a period of weeks with a student in that class about body piercing. The student has a piercing kit, documents state.
During one of those conversations Beard told the class she once had her ear cartilage pierced but allowed the piercing to grow shut and wanted to get it done again, according to documents.
On April 16, with 15 minutes left in her eighth-period class, Beard told the students, "OK, let's go," and the class went to the project room next door to Beard's classroom, police allege.
As the student pierced Beard's left ear three times, other students kept the room door closed and kept an eye out for any passing students or teachers, documents state.
After Beard's piercings were finished, another ninth-grade student lay down on a table and had her navel pierced by the student who'd just finished piercing Beard's ear, according to police.
Beard then reportedly told the class, "What just happen(ed) here does not leave the room," charging documents state.
Police said Beard paid the student $20 and gave her a homemade necklace as payment for the ear piercings.
Hearing waived: On Monday, Beard waived her right to a preliminary hearing before District Judge Richard Thomas, according to online court records. Her formal York County court arraignment is scheduled for July 19.
In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to tattoo or pierce a juvenile without the permission of that child's parent or legal guardian. It is also illegal in this state to simply be present when a juvenile is being illegally tattooed or pierced.
In an emailed statement, Northern York School District Superintendent Eric Eshbach wrote that the school board accepted Beard's resignation on May 16, and that she had been a family and consumer-science teacher.
School officials were made aware of the piercings moments after they happened, immediately began an investigation and notified police, Eshbach wrote.
"Ms. Beard did not return to class following the April 16 incident," he wrote.
Beard's "teacher page" on the Northern School District website states she was with the school for 13 years.
-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.