School-closing protesters go to City Hall

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Demonstrators on Tuesday outside City Hall protest the plan to close 29 Philadelphia schools with low enrollment. The rally was held by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Demonstrators on Tuesday outside City Hall protest the plan to close 29 Philadelphia schools with low enrollment. The rally was held by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
Posted: March 06, 2013

About a dozen protesters opposed to school closings in Philly took their case to City Hall on Tuesday, linking arms and chanting outside Mayor Nutter's second-floor office.

"It's important that there's a constant presence of people for him to understand that this is an urgent issue," said Helen Gym, of the group Parents United. "For many of us, we feel like this is the tipping point of where Philly public education is."

The group originally said they were going to occupy the hallway until Thursday, when the School Reform Commission votes on a Nutter-endorsed plan to close 29 city schools with low enrollment. Philly NAACP President J. Whyatt Mondesire, who participated in the demonstration, even said he had set aside money to post bail.

But not long after City Hall closed to the public at 6 p.m., police asked the protesters to leave, and they obliged.

"I don't want to be dragged out," Mondesire said.

Earlier in the day, Nutter and Superintendent William Hite Jr., who proposed the closings, met with Mondesire, Gym and other opponents of the plan. They asked the mayor to support a one-year moratorium on the closings, and his refusal sparked their demonstration, Mondesire said.

"Waiting a year makes no sense," said Nutter's spokesman, Mark McDonald. "The mayor fully supports Superintendent Hite's efforts to strengthen the school district by dealing with thousands of empty seats in dozens of city schools."

Outside City Hall, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers held a rally trumpeting the anti-closings cause on Tuesday afternoon. They brought a large handmade Nutter mask and paper SRC "bulldozers" to stand in as the object of their jeers.


On Twitter: @SeanWalshDN

Blog: PhillyClout.com

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