District’s Failure to Remedy Rampant Anti-Asian Violence at South Philadelphia High School Prompts Action
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) announced today its intention to file a complaint for civil rights violations with the U.S. Department of Justice against the Philadelphia School District for failing to address the rampant violence against Asian immigrant students at South Philadelphia High School (SPHS).
The complaint which will charge the District with violating SPHS Asian students’ Equal Protection rights under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution comes on the heels of the December 3, 2009 racial assaults at SPHS in which over two dozen Asian students were attacked throughout the day. Since December 3rd, Asian students from SPHS have boycotted the school citing fear for their safety and concern at the District’s repeated failure to address the widespread anti-Asian violence at the school.
Despite students’ attempts to meet with the Superintendent in a safe space to present their demands, Superintendent Arlene Ackerman has refused to meet with students, their parents, and community leaders. Students and school staff supportive of the students’ concerns report feeling intimidated by district officials who are seeking to downplay the hostile climate of SPHS.
AALDEF staff attorney Cecilia Chen said: “The District, Superintendent and Principal of SPHS allowed the racial violence at SPHS to escalate to this point. It is unconscionable that, even now, the Superintendent still refuses to fully acknowledge the students’ concerns for their safety and the climate of SPHS.”
For several years, AALDEF has worked with students from Lafayette High School in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn to address anti-Asian violence at the school. Lafayette entered into Consent Decree with the U.S. Department of Justice after a DOJ investigation determined that the school had remained deliberately indifferent to the severe racial harassment against Asian immigrant students.
Chen added: “The severe, rampant and unchecked nature of the racially motivated attacks against Asian students at South Philadelphia High School far exceeds what I have seen.”
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), founded in 1974, is a national organization that protects and promotes the civil rights of Asian Americans. By combining litigation, advocacy, education, and organizing, AALDEF works with Asian American communities across the country to secure human rights for all.