Philadelphia school violence report does not place blame

    A report on school violence at South Philadelphia High School recommends consistent punishment for perpetrators and improvements to the way ground rules in the classroom are conveyed to students and their parents.

    A report on school violence at South Philadelphia High School recommends consistent punishment for perpetrators and improvements to the way ground rules in the classroom are conveyed to students and their parents.

    The report stems from a series of violent incidents at the school in December.

    The Philadelphia School District hired retired federal Judge James Giles to investigate and write the report. Giles gave several recommendations, including punishment of onlookers, whom he says sometimes played a role in egging on the attacks.

    Jack Stollsteimer was the district’s safe school advocate from 2006 to 2009. Stollsteimer says during his tenure, he had a hard enough time getting the school district to punish the actual attackers.

    Stollsteimer: And I get the judge is trying to say we gotta nip this thing in the bud because these onlookers are encouraging it. But there’s a big difference between onlookers who are encouraging behavior, sort of joining a conspiracy maybe, than onlookers who just happen to be there.

    The report says 9th graders comprised the majority of the attackers. It did not place blame on any specific school employee.

    On December 3, 2009 about 26 Asian students at South Philadelphia High School were attacked, predominantly by their African American peers. It touched off an eight-day boycott by students protesting the lack of safety at the school.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.