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Philadelphia District Settles Over Violence Against Asians

The courage of Asian students to describe the harassment and violence they experienced at South Philadelphia High School led members of the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission to act on their behalf, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The newspaper reported yesterday on a meeting that marked the settlement of the Philadelphia School District with the commission and federal government in response to complaints of violence at South Philadelphia High School on Dec. 3, 2009. Investigations determined that on that day, 30 Asian students were attacked by groups of mostly African-American classmates. The district agreed to two settlements.

Helen Gym of Asian Americans United told the commission at the meeting that the settlements came out of the students' struggle. She said, "It is their voices that transformed a school and a city," according to the Inquirer.

I've reported for EdWeek that all of the students who were attacked were English-language learners, according to the Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which filed the complaint with the federal government.

The Inquirer reports that the federal settlement requires the school district to provide interpreters to English-language learners who complain of harassment and to their parents during meetings with school staff. Interpretation must also be provided in cases of ELLs' facing disciplinary action.

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