Alumni calls for end to alleged racism at Masterman School in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Alumni of Masterman School, the City of Philadelphia's prestigious public institution, are coming together to combat alleged racism within the school.

On Sunday, they joined educators marching from City Hall to Philadelphia School District headquarters and branched off to host a rally on the steps of Masterman at 17th and Spring Garden streets.

Ginneh Akbar, a 1997 alumnus, said in recent weeks they have had discussions with the school but the calls for change have been ongoing for years.

"We're appalled at the casual racism the school has become now and how it's tolerated and encouraged," Akbar said. "One of the things we've been doing is pulling admissions data over the past 10-20-30 years and we've seen the number of black students decline."

Recent graduate Madison Tyler said, "So, now we've taken it upon ourselves as alumni because we can't face any consequences for our actions to stand up for the students still there. If we're not teaching students at the source how not to be racist, if we're not training teachers about anti-racism, it's not an active thought for a lot of these teachers."

Alumni say they've had recent discussions with school officials and the principal and staff have appeared receptive to change.

The School District of Philadelphia releases a statement Sunday night in response to the rally:

"There is a national conversation around race and racial equity that aims to address issues that have created injustices - actual or perceived - for far too many people, our staff and students included. We have established the Equity Coalition that will provide the District with the organizational leadership and structure needed to redesign a more equitable school district. Among the early tasks underway for the Equity Coalition are creating an equity audit and subsequent action plan that highlights our short- and long-term commitments and developing and refining policy for our district and community partners through an equity lens.

We have encouraged our staff to have conversations that can help us all better understand the many diverse communities that make up our staff and school communities. And we will have professional development sessions designed to continue these very necessary conversations to bring healing and create opportunities for change, change that eradicates racist ideologies and behaviors within our own lives in an effort to dismantle racism within our school system. This work will not be easy, nor will it be quick. But it is work that is absolutely possible when we work together and I look forward to working with the Melanated Educators Collective, the Racial Justice Organizing Committee and all members of our school communities to ensure that we create the change that is needed."
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