The School District of Philadelphia failed to protect Asian students in South Philadelphia High School from harassment and violence, displaying "intentional disregard" for their welfare, according to a complaint filed today by Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund with the federal Department of Justice, according to The Notebook, a publication produced by the Philadelphia Public Schools.
The 11-page complaint charges that District personnel with "deliberate and discriminatory indifference" against Asian students in violation of the 14th Amendment. It asks the Justice Department to start an investigation. It describes in detail several different encounters throughout the day on December 3, when Asian students were assaulted in and around the high school, sending 13 to hospitals. One suffered a broken nose, Notebook reports.
In addition, the District sought to "cover up" and minimize the incident afterwards and downplay concerns that Asian students were the subject of harassment, according to the complaint.
More than 50 students boycotted the school for eight days, saying they didn't feel safe. They returned after Superintendent Arlene Ackerman finally agreed to meet with them, a week after the incident.
Throughout the day, and for a year before, according to AALDEF, students and Asian advocacy organizations had "urged school and District officials to address the increasingly hostile environment for Asian students without success."
The School District has not yet commented on the allegations.