December 16, 2010
Justice Dept.: Philadelphia schools reaches agreement on harassment a year after Asian students were attackedAsian students may walk with a little less fear next semester, now that the US Justice Department reached an agreement with the Philadelphia School District over a series of assaults that occurred a year ago. The agreement is similar to one that South Philadelphia High School reached with the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission, and requires Philadelphia schools to come up with a a plan to combat bullying, give multicultural training; and track incidents of harassment. On Dec. 3, 2009, 26 Asian students were attacked and 13 were hospitalized after being attacked at school during the day. Some were pulled out of classes by African American students roaming the halls and assaukted, and others were attacked as they tried to leave the school cafeteria. Here's one description from the complaint:
A group of Chinese students was escorted to the cafeteria by a school security guard. After entering the cafeteria, this same group of Chinese students saw that the cafeteria was chaotic and turned around to leave the room. However, as they were leaving, a group of students attacked them from behind and began punching and kicking the Chinese students. At least one student suffered a black eye, trauma to his head, and serious bruises on his hip, arms and hand.These attacks led to a weeklong boycott of the school by Asian students, which made national headlines. It's sad that a major city's school district had to be told by the Justice Department how to handle such horrible examples of racial hatred and discrimination. Last year, it felt like the school was close to collapsing in violent chaos to anyone following the story.