While police are citing no connection, the incident bears similarities to an attack at George Washington High School in November. There, student Matthew Gremo was jumped by a group of male students he did not know, badly beaten, and kicked in the head. He required brain surgery.
That incident and other violent acts have been the focus of a legislative investigation into Philadelphia schools. As of mid-March, 721 staff members and 736 students have been assaulted in Philadelphia's public schools this school year, the district says. About 450 weapons have been confiscated.
Coyne's mother, Marion Gillespie, said in a telephone interview that she would not allow her son to return to Frankford but would seek to have him transferred.
Her son did not know the students who beat him, she said. They wore dark, hooded sweatshirts and bandannas, she said. Other students have told her they belong to a gang called "the squad," she said.
Frankford officials could not be reached last night for comment.
A district spokesman late yesterday acknowledged the attack but had no information on what the students were wearing or whether they belonged to a gang.
"Witnesses say that five males attacked the victim for no apparent reason, beating him, kicking him, and fleeing the scene," said spokesman Milton McGriff.
School police were notified immediately, he said, and then Philadelphia police were called. The victim was taken to the nurse's office, and his mother was notified.
Gillespie said her son had just left the lunchroom and was heading to his next class. He was grabbed from behind and punched in the face. He fell to the floor and covered his face and head, she said. That's when the attackers kicked her son repeatedly in the head.
She said she was upset that the school did not call an ambulance for her son, calling her instead. "His head was covered in blood," she said. "I was angry."
Marty O'Rourke, a spokesman for the legislative subcommittee investigating school violence, said Frankford officials appeared to have handled the case appropriately for the most part.
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