Equity & Diversity

An English-Learner Finds His Voice to Combat School Violence

By Mary Ann Zehr — September 07, 2010 1 min read
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Duong Nghe Ly, an English-learner from Vietnam, was followed home from his high school one day last year and punched in the face on the stoop of his home, according to The Associated Press. He is one of about 50 Asian students who boycotted South Philadelphia High School last year for a week in an attempt to get school administrators and others to take action to make the school safe for Asian students.

Jesse Washington, who covers race and ethnicity for the AP, has written a nuanced story about the tensions between immigrant students and African-American students at the high school. His reporting finds that the tensions are more about perceptions of opportunity than race.

At the end of last month, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the U.S. Department of Justice had found merit in claims that Asian students were attacked on Dec. 3 at South Philadelphia High School and told the district to take steps to address the issue.

I’ve put in a request to the Justice Department for a copy of the letter that the Inquirer reports was sent to school district officials. Back in January, I wrote that an Asian advocacy group had filed a complaint with the Justice Department contending that Philadelphia school and district officials had showed “deliberate indifference” to alleged abuse suffered by Asian students at South Philadelphia High.

A March report on an investigation of the Dec. 3 attacks by a retired federal judge carried out at the request of the school district said that some of the students who had been involved in attacks on Asians had been transferred to disciplinary schools or other schools.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.