When the bullhorn finally arrived, Greg Brinkley let loose.
Standing in front of Thomas Mifflin Elementary in East Falls on Monday, the longtime community activist and grandfather of a Mifflin student shouted out a series of physical and mental abuses that have allegedly taken place at the public school over the last two years.
He also asked that Mifflin Principal Leslie Mason be removed from the school for not properly addressing the alleged abuses and, as Brinkley maintains, perpetrating them in some cases.
“It isn’t about us condemning every teacher and every staff [member] that’s in there because they’re not all participating in that,” said Brinkley during a small afternoon protest. “But that doesn’t change the fact that these things have happened and children are still subject to the same things with some of these same people.”
Officials with the School District of Philadelphia have deemed Brinkley’s allegations “unfounded.”
‘Everything is being sugarcoated’
A handful of residents, many from Abbotsford Homes, a nearby public-housing complex, joined Brinkley for the demonstration, the latest step in speaking out against a school where allegations of racial discrimination and teacher abuse have swirled for years.
Mifflin parent Aisha Stone maintains that her son was verbally abused by staff and that the school has not been responsive.
“It seems like nothing is being done and everything is being sugarcoated,” said Stone.
Fellow parent Catrina Rogers said Monday that her son was also verbally abused and maintains that staff members have been racially targeting African-American students.
“It seems to me like they’re trying to build up a record, a disciplinary record for these children to make it seem like there are issues, that they’re problematic, maybe because of where they live, or the color of their skin or maybe both,” said Rogers.
Many of Mifflin’s African-American students live at Abbotsford Homes.
Rogers said she is only asking for one thing: equality.
“Everyone deserves an education. Everyone deserves to go to any school they choose to go to,” she said.
School District searches for evidence
Fernando Gallard, a spokesperson with the district, said Brinkley’s allegations have no basis.
“We’re very serious when someone tells us that kids are being abused in our schools. We absolutely look into that,” said Gallard. “But it’s concerning when an adult is saying the same thing over and over again without any support or evidence. It’s just very frustrating for us.”
Mason, whose leadership has also been praised by the Mifflin community, would not comment when asked about the demonstration.