Schools seek next step after assault of boy

Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. (center) walks with students leaving Ethel D. Allen School as part of the WalkSafePHL program.
Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. (center) walks with students leaving Ethel D. Allen School as part of the WalkSafePHL program. (AKIRA SUWA / Staff Photographer)
Posted: September 19, 2013

A day after police said a 12-year-old boy was raped by a teenager on his way to school in West Philadelphia, the leader of the city's school system said the district was considering what steps to take to prevent such attacks.

"That was a terrible, horrible incident," Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said Tuesday.

The boy, a student at Morton McMichael School in the Mantua section, reported the attack when he arrived at the school about 8:30 a.m. Monday, police said.

The incident happened in an alley in the 3900 block of Brown Street, police said. The boy described his attacker as a black male, about 13 or 14, wearing a red shirt and blue pants.

Hite said the incident "just illustrates why we have to be a lot more vigilant around our children going to and coming from school. It's not just a School District and parents' responsibility. It's all of our responsibilities together."

Asked what action would be taken in response, Hite said the district was reviewing the routes pupils take to and from McMichael and considering increasing law enforcement's presence in the area.

"We're reviewing the corridors around that particular area, and we're determining what we can do in terms of the resources we have, and maybe increasing the level of law enforcement, but also asking individuals to come out and volunteer," he said.

Hite was speaking at Ethel D. Allen School, a K-8 school at 3200 W. Lehigh Ave. in North Philadelphia, which is receiving students who once attended L.P. Hill Elementary in the Strawberry Mansion section. Hill was one of the schools closed in June because of decreasing enrollment.

The superintendent was at Allen to walk with children in what is known as WalkSafePHL, the safe corridors program coordinated by Town Watch Integrated Services, a city anti-crime agency.

Mayor Nutter also was scheduled to walk, but "got stacked up with other things and he couldn't get there," Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald said. "He supports the [safe corridors] program."

The program, which uses volunteers to watch children walking to and from school, is focused on Allen and 49 other "receiving schools," which are getting students from the 24 schools that closed in June.

Hite hailed the corridors project at Allen. "It was something to see with all the volunteers on almost every corner," he said.


Contact Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or vclark@phillynews.com.

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