Guns in Charter Schools Challenge Perception of Safety

Guns in two different charter schools in Philadelphia in one week challenge the notion that the independently-funded institutions are less dangerous than the city's public schools.

"They've traditionally been seen as a 'safer' alternative to Philly public schools," said Helen Gym, co-founder of Parents United for Public Education. "There are perceptions of difference, but I don't know that they bear themselves out in the schools."

Two students were rushed to Albert Einstein Medical Center this afternoon following a shooting at the Delaware Valley Charter School at 5201 Old York Road in the city's Olney neighborhood.

Police believe at least two and possibly three teens may be involved in the shooting.

"We will go through obviously an investigation," said Mayor Michael Nutter. "Try to piece together what happened, how did it happen, how was the weapon in the school in the first place."

Earlier this week, a teenage boy brought a gun to the Knowledge is Power Program's DuBois Collegiate Academy (KIPP) at 5070 Parkside Ave. in the Parkside section of Philadelphia. 

Other students at KIPP alerted school officials that their classmate had a gun in his bookbag. Police were notified and took the teen into custody.

"The prospect of a weapon in a school environment... is obviously dangerous," Nutter said. "Any injury to any student on school property, off school property, to any citizen, is of great concern."

A third incident near Samuel Fels High School -- a public school -- at 5500 Langdon St. in the Summerdale neighborhood left a Philadelphia Police officer and a school district officer injured.

A fight between a large group of students waiting at a bus stop at Summerdale and Sanger streets broke out around 3 p.m. Thursday. Several teens were taken into custody in relation to the brawl.

Gym says safety is a top concern for every parent and that schools need to be viewed as more than just a holding pen for kids.

"People just need to care a whole lot about what happens within those walls to make those places truly safe," she said.

The DuBois Collegiate Academy, where the gun made it into the school building, does not have a security force or metal detectors. School officials rely on students to come forward with any suspicions as part of their "No Gun" policy.

Delaware Valley has metal detectors and it is unclear how someone could have brought a weapon into the gymnasium. 

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