Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Philly Council to hear testimony on student safety following January’s elementary school abduction

The safety of students within the walls of Philadelphia’s schools has now come under fire. And when Philadelphia’s parents take the mic in defense of their own, the Lord himself can’t stop the blow back.

On Tuesday, March 12, Council’s committees on public safety and education will convene a specially scheduled public hearing on the Philadelphia School District’s policy for the dismissal or release of students to parents and guardians.

Hearings will begin at 1 p.m. at City Hall in room 400, in the Council chambers. Following the hearing, the joint committees will consider what action should be taken to better verify the identity of persons who remove a student from a Philadelphia public school.

There’s an unspoken societal agreement, even here in Philadelphia that once a kid enters the walls of their school, he or she is safe. Sure there’s still bullying and the occasional weapon, but by and large, schools are a safe place.

It was a Monday morning in January that started just as any other. Children across Philadelphia made their way to school, some walking, some by bus and public transportation and others taken door to door by their parents.

But on this January morning a woman disguised in a traditional Muslim head scarf entered a West Philadelphia elementary school, scribbled her name on a sign-in sheet and asked to take her daughter out for breakfast. She proceeded to the child's classroom where she asked for the girl by name. She then escorted her from the premises.

The woman did not show identification. And her decision to masquerade in an Islamic veil has enraged the Muslim community, members whom gathered at a February meeting of Philadelphia’s City Council to voice their disdain.

The unspoken societal contract has been broken. In the process, a child was abducted and brutally abused, and the Muslim community has been victimized. With hearings scheduled for Tuesday, the conversation about the security of Philadelphia’s schools is just beginning.

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