Philly school adds security after racial attacks

SOUTH PHILADELPHIA - December 11, 2009

The announcement comes in response to recent attacks on Asian-American students.

Those students say African-American students have been targeting them because of their race.

As many as 50 Asian-American students have boycotted class this week. They claimed the school district is not taking this problem seriously.

On Friday morning, Superintendent Arlene Ackerman outlined changes, including 60 more security cameras, four more police officers inside the school.

They have even assigned a Chinese-speaking police sergeant, who the Asian students will be able to speak directly to about their problems.

"I'm aware of the problems that have existed here at South Philadelphia High this week. I welcome the opportunity to come here and assist Dr. Ackerman to straighten out these issues," said Sgt. Robert Samuels.

School officials said Friday that 10 students have been suspended over the attacks. Principal LaGreta Brown says she's meeting with families of victims..

She says some boycotting students have returned and that she hopes the rest come back Monday.

"We're hoping that the young people who have boycotted will come back. If what we needed was more security, that's fine," said Dr. Ackerman. "But what I said to the young people and the staff, we have to change our hearts and minds, and we have to change the minds of those who are now sitting in judgement of South Philadelphia."

On Friday afternoon the Asian-American legal defense and education fund announced plans to file a complaint for civil rights violations with the U.S. Justice Dept. for not acting to stop the violence sooner.

Through interpreters, several boycotting students say they still fear returning to school and want meetings with the Superintendent Ackerman, with parents and community leaders present, before they decide whether or not to end the boycott.

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