Attacks Against Asian Students Prompt Private Meeting

By Asha Beh
|  Monday, Dec 14, 2009  |  Updated 5:15 PM EDT
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Student Speaks Out About Brutal Attack

NBCPhiladelphia.com

Angry Southern High students and their parents held signs during a school district meeting. They say officials haven't addressed their concerns over what they call racially motivated beatings at the school.

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Advocate: The Adults Made Ethnic Slurs

Ellen Somekawa, with Asian Americans United, says staff at South Philadelphia high school made ethnic slurs.

Will Students Show Up for Meeting?

Philly's school superintendent and the principal of South Philly high were set to meet privately Monday over the recent racially-motivated attacks at the school. Will the student's who've been protesting show up?
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Philadelphia's Human Relations Commission brought together the school superintendent and South Philadelphia High School's principal Monday to talk about the racial and ethnic tensions that have plagued the high school.

Officials from the commission said they were also working with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter's Commission on Asian American Affairs to contact and get commitments Sunday from parents and the students victims, Philly.com reports.

Dozens of Asian students were attacked and beaten at South Philly High School on Dec. 3 and 50 students have been boycotting the school in protest ever since, saying that the school is "still not a safe place for us."

The meeting included none of the students but it was called "a good first step" towards solving the ongoing issues at the school, said officials.

The students planned to continue their boycott despite the meeting because the still didn't see proof that the school would be safer.

The students -- and adult advocates -- have also claimed that staff allowed this to happen on their watch and added taunts of their own.

"Where you from?" "Hey, Chinese!" "Yo, Dragon Ball." "Are you Bruce Lee?" "Speak English." These are all slurs from staff, not students, at South Philadelphia high school according to Ellen Somekawa, Executive Director of Asian Americans United. She is expected to be at Monday's meeting. "Stop blaming the children and start owning the responsibility," Somekawa said last week when she spoke in front of school administrators.

The Human Relations Commission announcement came one day after the Asian American Legal Defense Fund announced it would file a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice. According to Cecilia Chen, an attorney with the defense fund, the complaint charges that the school district violated the students' rights to equal protection under the 14th Amendment.

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