Students, teachers and parents from Mastery Charter schools held a rally near the Philadelphia City Hall on Thursday, expressing concern for the safety of children heading to and from class.
The group has called on Mayor Jim Kenny’s administration to fill hundreds of vacancies in the police department and 911 call center, in addition to school gatekeepers.
“There are 407 corners around the city that crossing guards should have, but they don’t have them,” said Shavan Almadovar. “Thousands of children cross these busy and dangerous intersections every day without protection. This year I have personally seen two accidents in a week. I also almost got hit. “
Marquida Ross, who helped organize the rally, said their group had identified people who wanted to fill vacancies that were already funded from the city budget.
“We have proud parents who want to be security guards. We have young men and women who can be inspired to serve their communities as police officers, but we need the city to be responsible for the urgency and pace of their efforts, ”Ross said. “We need large-scale solutions to the problem.”
The call for help comes after a series of incidents of violence that occurred in schools before and after classes began.
Graz General Director Leonda Dunn recalled how one day about 30 students from another school arrived in Graz when students were fired.
When he called 911 for help, there was no help right away. Dunn said it took several 911 calls to send police because of the fighting that broke out.
“They didn’t show up for 20-30 minutes. And at that time, I, a lone director, was in the middle of the Hunting Park, tearing students away from each other, ”Dan said.
Outside the town hall, City Council members Mark Skill spoke about periodic security issues across the city.
“At every meeting we go to, people talk about public safety,” Scylla said, calling state security “the number one issue” that should be a priority for the city council. “We need to take responsibility to make sure there are resources so the administration can hire these vacancies,” Skilla said.
City council member Derek Green blamed the Kenny administration for not hiring.
“Ultimately, it’s about leadership and performance,” Green said. “We should not be in this situation. This is an issue we are talking about not only this year. “
Green’s name was among those mentioned in nearby city circles as a possible candidate for mayor next year.
The Kenny administration issued a statement saying it met with school principals last week to discuss their concerns. The statement said the city currently hires crossing guards to work in 12 police districts across the city. As for the police and 911 dispatchers, the city authorities say they are continuing to recruit and “are working hard to increase the number of police and 911 dispatchers.”
This article first appeared on WYY.org.