Philly school addresses attacks on Asians

PHILADELPHA - December 14, 2009

About 30 Asian-American students have boycotted classes at the school, which is on a "persistently dangerous" list, since December 3rd. They say that they are the targets of anti-Asian discrimination and violence.

Philadelphia Schools Superintendant Arlene Ackerman met with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations about alleged violence against Asian-American students at South Philadelphia High School. The Philadelphia HRC invited school district officials, Asian community representatives & Asian students who've boycotted class since last week after allegedly being attacked by African-American students.

The attacks reportedly occurred on December 3rd. There are some reports that it was the day after an Asian-American student attacked a disabled African-American student.

However, the boycotting students say long simmering cultural tensions at the school populated by Asian, Latino, white & African-American students have gone unaddressed by the adults charged with educating them.

The school district has suspended 6 African-American & 4 Asian-American students and has intentions of expelling them.

Speaking to Action News: "We owe it to our young people to help them get to a place where they all feel safe. And they all feel they could come to any of our schools and get a great education in a safe environment," said Philadelphia schools superintendant Arlene Ackerman.

The meeting was intended to be the HRC's effort to broker discussions and facilitate trust among various groups there.

"So they can go back to school and be there and know that regardless of the race, skin color or national origin, they have a place to go and that we care and we're taking steps," said Philadelphia Human Relations Commission Chairperson Kay Kyungsun Yu.

People leaving the meetings said they couldn't talk specifics, but they felt good and that progress had been made. Students can expect to see an increased police presence, cameras and diversity training at the school.

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