Dozens of Asian students who were attacked and beaten at South Philadelphia High School last week have opted not to return to school on Monday over concerns for their safety.
“It is our opinion that South Philadelphia High School is still not a safe place for us,” read the statement. “Because we are Asian immigrants, we are targeted. We have been working with the school a long time, but the school has failed to provide a concrete plan to address our safety inside and outside the building.”
School District officials and police held a meeting with the students on Friday evening but the group said the meeting did little to address their concerns or ease fears.
Tensions between black and Asian students at the school erupted in a series of assaults last week, leading to 10 suspensions and several students seeking medical treatment.
Asian students at the school said a lunchroom attack left them feeling unsafe and helpless, in part because they say school security guards often turn a blind eye.
School officials said last week's clashes strained efforts to improve race relations.
"What gets lost in all of this is the fact that the school, the community and the students have worked hard over the past two years to foster that kind of positive learning environment," said James Golden, the school district's chief safety executive.
The school, with some 1,200 students, is 70 percent black and 18 percent Asian. It has been labeled "persistently dangerous" by the state, even though assaults were down 50 percent from last year.