The Washington School District superintendent said Wednesday that the video footage that exonerated Zane Zebrasky as the person suspected of dropping a bag of suspected cocaine in a stairwell at Washington High School was found when one administrator was showing another how to operate the video system.
And school administrators are hoping to use that video surveillance to determine who really brought the bag containing 32.5 grams of suspected cocaine with a street value of at least $3,000 into the school May 22.
Zebrasky, 24, of 1009 Maplewood Drive, Canonsburg, was arrested Friday by Washington police on charges of possession of cocaine, possession of cocaine on school property, reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of children after surveillance video seemed to show him dropping a bag containing the drug on the stairwell the previous day.
But those charges were dropped Tuesday after surveillance video shows a small object – believed to be the bag of cocaine – thrown down the stairwell about 25 minutes prior to when Zebrasky appears. The small object was caught by a male, who immediately dropped the bag on the floor and kept walking. The bag is not in view until it appears Zebrasky kicks it while walking down the steps without realizing he had done so. A female student later picks up the bag and gives it to a teacher.
Dr. Roberta DiLorenzo, district superintendent, said that initially school officials and police had gone back from the point where the girl found the bag to when it is first seen on the stairwell.
The new evidence was discovered after two school administrators were going back further in the footage, as more of a training exercise, DiLorenzo explained. She said the dean of students was not as familiar with the operation of the system and was reviewing it with the school principal.
“They kept looking back and saw what appears to be one boy pitching it to another,” DiLorenzo said. “As soon as they found that, they immediately called police.”
The superintendent theorized the student who caught and dropped the bag may have kicked it into a crevice or corner out of view until Zebrasky stepped on it. The boys have come forward, telling officials the bag did not belong to them.
DiLorenzo said that it is “absolutely a concern” that cocaine was in the school.
“We’ll be looking at where it originated,” DiLorenzo said. “Our team and police will be going back and looking, frame by frame.”
She said the city’s new police dog was coincidentally in the school on Tuesday, conducting a previously scheduled search of the building. She said the search had nothing to do with the May 22 discovery. No drugs or contraband were found Tuesday.
“While this is heartbreaking, all procedures were followed,” DiLorenzo said.
DiLorenzo said that Zebrasky was not a school district employee and was a therapeutic support personnel assigned to the school by another agency.
“It is extremely unfortunate,” DiLorenzo said. “His mom (Kelly Zebrasky) is a dedicated employee. And he was a student in the past. It is heartbreaking.”
Mrs. Zebrasky is principal at Washington Park School.