Concerns remain ahead of Philadelphia schools' opening day

PHILADELPHIA - September 6, 2013

More than 290 public schools open Monday, with several thousand fewer staffers than last year.

The district maintains staffing will be adequate for safe operations, but some parents are unconvinced.

"I think it's going to be understaffed," said Phillip Aiken of Parents United Philadelphia.

"Sometimes the little kids get bullied, and sometimes the big kids get bullied. It all depends. You can have a seventh grader with an eighth grader picking on him. But you still need enough staff to be around," said parent Latonia Fletcher.

Long before she started a Charter School, Veronica Joyner founded a school advocacy group. She has written to Superintendent William Hite.

She fears there could be violence in some newly-merged high schools, specifically Ben Franklin and Martin Luther King.

"My concern is that there are different turfs and different neighborhoods. And there are longstanding feuds between these particular schools," said Joyner. "It could explode. In my opinion we are putting together gasoline and fire."

That is a provocative statement. The principal of Franklin High said Friday such concerns are unfounded and there is no indication of potential turf issues.

At MLK, which is merging with Germantown High, there have been several events this summer to ease the transition.

A quartet of soccer players told us no one expects a resurgence of historic rivalries. Quite the opposite, in fact.

"We had a little block party, and everybody came to meet up and get their school uniform shirts," said Randolph Edwards.

"I don't think there's going to be any trouble at all," said Junior LaCroix. "There was no trouble at the block party. There was no trouble."

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