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School Administrators Rally Against School Violence, For Full Funding Teamsters Pledge $10,000 Contribution to Address Crisis In SchoolsApril 19, 2007 (Philadelphia) - School principals, administrators and other supporters in the school community rallied today outside the School District of Philadelphia Education Center to address escalating school violence and to call for solutions to the education crisis.The rally was organized by Teamsters Local 502—Commonwealth Association of School Administrators (CASA) in Philadelphia, which represents more than 800 school administrators, including principals, assistant principals, school police supervisors and others.The International Brotherhood of Teamsters announced at the rally a $10,000 contribution toward finding solutions to the school violence, and called on other stakeholders in the school community to make similar commitments.“With the tragedy facing Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, we cannot and will not ignore the issue of violence in our schools,” said International Vice President Frank Gillen.“We’ve all been touched by the lack of safety in our schools,” said Robert Garner, School Police Sergeant at Germantown High School. “Violence in any school, whether it’s at an institution of higher learning or at an inner city public school, is unacceptable. Harrisburg, City Hall, I hope you are listening to us here today.”School administrators are grappling with another round of budget cuts with the district facing a $186 million shortfall, which results in fewer police officers, larger class sizes and a reduction in aides and other support staff. “We’ve already cut to the bone,” said Marie McCarthy, Principal at Farrell Elementary School, who is being forced to cut her school librarian and possibly another teacher. “Being a school administrator isn’t a job. It’s a mission. We are charged with an awesome responsibility. These budget cuts are devastating to all of us. This isn’t about bucks. It’s about students.” School administrators are on the front line of the crisis in education, continually being asked to do more with less, even as horrific incidents of violence escalate. Yet they pledged today to do whatever it takes to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for every student.“We pledge our absolute belief that all students are capable of growing in mind and spirit if they are properly nurtured,” said Sonia Rodriguez-Perez, Principal, Alternative Middle Years (AMY) at James Martin School. “We ask in return for respect for all people involved in educating our children.”The Local 502 CASA members support proposals that would:Put Philadelphia police officers in schools where they are needed; Create part-time jobs for students;Provide schools with sufficient funds to address their security and climate needs as they see fit;Provide clear, consistent rules of conduct and enforcement aimed at preventing violence and chronically disruptive behavior; andStreamline the process for moving disruptive students to alternative learning placements.“This rally is not the end, but the beginning of a concerted effort on the part of Local 502 to become an active participant in the battle to combat violence in the schools and to secure full funding for all of our students,” said Michael Lerner, Business Agent of Local 502. “The administrators of Local 502 are the backbone of the school reform movement, and the leaders in the effort to have all schools achieve Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP),” he said. “They deserve to be treated accordingly.”
Principals rally against violenceBy Martha WoodallInquirer Staff WriterClifton James, the former principal of West Philadelphia High School, said he was not upset so much by the way he was abruptly removed from the post last month after a string of student assaults on teachers in the school."That part of it didn't bother me," he said yesterday after an administrators' rally against school violence and for increased school funding. "The part that bothered me is the effect it had on the kids," James said yesterday in his first public comments since his ouster on March 7.But although James' name was not mentioned during the event, officials from the Commonwealth Association of School Administrators, a Teamsters local, said the district's shabby treatment of James had sparked yesterday's rally, which drew about 350 administrators to the front of the district's administrative offices at 440 N. Broad St.Michael Lerner, business agent of Teamsters Local 502, said what happened to James "was totally inappropriate. It is not the first time one of our administrators has been publicly disciplined in the press." He added, "One of the themes of our rally was proper respect, professional respect for our members who are out there doing their jobs every day."James was reassigned to the Southwest regional office and replaced by two administrators after a string of teacher assaults. The school of 1,100 students had 14 assaults against teachers and administrators through March 8, the most of any Philadelphia high school.Teachers complained that they were pushed, punched, slapped and threatened, sometimes without consequences for students. James was accused by the teachers' union of failing to report all the incidents.James countered yesterday by saying that the teachers' union had encouraged its members to report any incident as an assault in an effort to make him look bad. Previously, James had said he reported all incidents and followed regulations.He added: "I was the principal of the school, and anything that happens, I take full responsibility for it. I'm not trying to duck anything. Any violence, even if it was only one teacher who was subject to a violent incident, is too much."Upset by James' departure, students set a series of small blazes, and a teacher was punched in the jaw. The unrest continued for several days and resulted in several student arrests and a threat against a teacher.The rally was the first public display by the principals. Previously, their union complained in a letter to district chief Paul Vallas.James said many other students had told him that they felt hopeless at school.James said he runs into West students on the street. On Monday, he attended the funeral of a 2006 graduate who was slain on Easter, and last week he visited a West Philadelphia student who was shot while participating in a vigil for the slain graduate."There were a lot of kids at both places," he said. "And a lot of them were expressing to me how hopeless they now felt. They said they didn't have anybody to listen to them anymore, and they didn't feel that somebody really believed they could be successful."District spokesman Fernando Gallard said last night that it was natural for students to miss their principal."That shows the type of relationships he had with his students, and we want to foster that with the new staff," Gallard said.James was replaced by two interim principals. Gallard said it may be easier for students to form attachments once a permanent principal has been selected at West Philadelphia.At yesterday's rally, district administrators also said that budget cuts were harming students' education and vowed to seek additional state funding for the city's schools. And Lerner announced that the Teamsters International has contributed $10,000 for programs that stem violence and urged other unions to pledge similar amounts.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------Contact staff writer Martha Woodall at 215-854-2789 or email@example.com.
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