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U.S. Dept. of Justice issues complaint against School District of Philadelphia alleging bias and reaches groundbreaking settlement establishing safe schools free of bias as a right.

“The US brings this civil action pursuant to Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States to remedy and enjoin named Defendants’ unlawful discrimination against Asian students based on race, color and/or national origin at South Philadelphia High School . . . These students were repeatedly and consistently harassed based on race, color and/or national origin, which barred the students’ access to equal educational opportunities. Defendants had actual knowledge of this severe and pervasive harassment and were deliberately indifferent to the harassment . . .’
U.S. vs. School District of Philadelphia, Dec. 15, 2010

Read about it here:


We have the Power to make change!
Remembering South Philly High one year later

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Philadelphia Public School Notebook: First Steps at South Philadelphia High School: Will they lead to lasting change? – by Helen Gym, December 3, 2010

Racial violence spurred Asian students to take a stand

By Sarah Hoye, CNN.
You can also view it here.

SASA Wins City Paper Award

Philadelphia City Paper named SASA its 2010 Big Vision Award winner in the Activism/Watchdogs category, called “The Guardians.&rsdquo; Read more »


Students Prepare to Return to School – Update on South Philly High


S. Phila. High School Principal LaGreta Brown Resigns


Little Has Changed at South Philly High

16-year-old Lin De Liu arrived at South Philadelphia High School post-Dec. 3 and was assaulted in the school’s bathroom March 16. Since then he has suffered serious injury including memory loss and blurred vision. The School District however calls it a “careless” accident, and has failed to investigate. The incident shows how little has changed at S. Phila. High School.


Student cleared of gang charges

It took three months of work, the tearful testimony of a committed grandmother, dozens of supporters and front page media coverage to clear the name of a young immigrant student falsely accused of contributing to the violence at South Philadelphia High School. He was a convenient scapegoat for a District looking to avoid responsibility.

Read about it!


School District Investigation

Download the full report (pdf)

Earlier this week, Judge James Giles released the findings of a District investigation into the violence on Dec. 3 at South Philadelphia High School. Among the findings was confirmation of widespread violence at the school starting before 9 a.m. and continuing throughout the day on Dec. 3rd with clear knowledge of that violence by school officials. The violence was acknowledged to have some relationship to race. The report also revealed that it could not substantiate a highly publicized charge that Asian students had beaten up a disabled African American student the day before. That allegation was based on hearsay, according to the report, and the Judge could not determine whether the African American student was a victim or an attacker in that situation.

At the same time, Asian Americans United and advocates who have worked on addressing violence at South Philadelphia High School for more than a year raised serious concerns about the inadequacy of the Judge’s report, including:

  • the report’s focus on two dates, Dec. 2 and 3, ignoring a much longer pattern of anti-Asian/anti-immigrant violence at the school;
  • the failure to interview the majority of student victims as well as a number of witnesses on the scene Dec. 3;
  • limited attention paid to racial bias and language access concerns with regard to official school action; and
  • short-sighted recommendation that are mostly punitive towards students and fail to address how to build a more supportive and inclusive academic and social environment for all students at South Philadelphia High School.

The gravest concern, however, is that the report essentially absolves the District and school leadership of any responsibility. In fact, the report seems to imply that if we were to revisit that day on December 3rd the administration of SPHS could have made the exact same choices – and that is a frightening analysis. Without some measure of accountability and understanding of what could and should have been done differently, we have no way to move forward, as we have been urged by District officials. In fact, the refusal to address responsibility is part of the reason we have seen repeated violence at South Philadelphia High School. The report underscores that we still need an independent and thorough investigation by the Department of Justice and other entities to responsibly understand and address the violence at SPHS.

You can read a copy of the report here as well as a more extensive analysis of concerns detailed by AAU Board member Helen Gym at the Public School Notebook website: http://thenotebook.org/blog/102271/no-resolution-violence-south-philly-hs


Listen to Here and Now

Feb. 9th: Boston’s “Here and Now” radio show features Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Jeff Gammage discussing the South Philadelphia High School situation. Find it here and scroll to the story at 25:50 »

Other Phila. schools handle racial, ethnic tensions

By Kristen A. Graham, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Feb. 4, 2010
Mia-lia Kiernan makes a strong appearance in The Philadelphia Inquirer front page story on February 4, 2010, showing that one of the first steps to addressing racial violence is to recognize it then tackle it. Read the full story »

Tepid response to attacks against Asians is nothing new

By Gustavo Martínez Contreras, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook, Feb. 2010
The Public School Notebook features a retrospective on anti-Asian violence in the District, featuring Debbie Wei. Read the full story »

Philadelphia Human Relations Commission holds its first citywide school violence hearing.

  • Frustration with District failures marks public hearing on school violence
    by Helen Gym, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook, Jan. 28, 2010
    Helen Gym writes about a hearing that is a “damning indictment of the School District.” Read the full story »
  • HRC Hearing on School Violence Held in South Phila.
    By Pat Loeb, KYW1060, Jan. 28, 2010
    Fels student, Vu Le, testifies. Read the full story »
  • Commission hears of violence in many city schools
    By Kristen A. Graham, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Jan. 28, 2010
    Read the full story »
  • Violence has students attending in fear
    By Dafney Tales, Philadelphia Daily News, Jan. 29, 2010
    Read the full story »
  • Stories of Violence in Philly Schools
    NBC Philadelphia, Jan. 29, 2010
    Read the full story »

AALDEF Files Civil Rights Complaint Against Philadelphia School District

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) filed a complaint on January 19, 2010 for civil rights violations with the U.S. Department of Justice charging the School District of Philadelphia and South
Philadelphia High School (SPHS) with discrimination against Asian students on the basis of race and national origin in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Read the full press release by downloading the PDF.

MLK Day: A Call to Witness and Action
Monday, January 18, 2010

march for Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Action

Student Rally and March Against Violence, hosted by Philadelphia Student Union and including co-sponsorships by AAU, Boat People SOS, and Cambodian Association, brought together more than 600 marchers to stop school violence.


The Struggle for Safe Schools Continues

Media Coverage from Dec. 16, 2009 to Jan 22, 2010


South Philly High Students Suspend
Their Boycott on December 15th, 2009

Students of the South Philly High boycott meet with Dr. Ackerman and Mike Silverman


Citywide support for the Students of South Philly High

a show of unity and support for safe schools

crowd gathers to support students from South Philly High on Dec 13, 2009


AALDEF to File Civil Rights Complaint Against Philadelphia High School District

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).

Read the full press release here along with news from AALDEF.


Asian Students from South Philly High Testify at the School Reform Commission Meeting on Wednesday, December 9th

Asian Students from South Philadelphia High School at the School Reform Commission Meeting on Dec 9, 2009

Read Targeted because we’re Asian: South Philly students speak out about racial assaults by Helen Gym on the Young Philly Politics site.

Media Coverage


Student Walkout

Asian students from South Philly High, including members of the South Philadelphia High Chinese American Student Association (a group that Wei Chen organized last year in response to the school’s violence) are spending this week in meetings with parents, other students, and community leaders to find solutions to the long-standing issues at the school. Some of the students will testify at the School Reform Commission meeting on Dec. 9th.

Meeting with the School District

On Fri., Dec. 5th, there was a meeting with students, parents and about 20 or so officials representing the School District and South Philadelphia High School. There were additional people present including the NAACP and Philadelphia Police Deptartment.

December 3rd, 2009, 26 Asian immigrant students were attacked

Initial Media Coverage – Dec. 4, 2009