Graduation Day at George Washington High marred by arrests

Posted: June 19, 2014

Graduation Day at George Washington High School was interrupted Tuesday morning by fisticuffs and a teen-age girl supposedly carrying a jar of marijuana, Philadelphia police and eyewitnesses told the Daily News.

A father and his 16-year-old daughter were arrested by city police at the school's football field, said department spokeswoman Officer Christine O'Brien.

Thomas Morales, 43, of Fordham Road near Fitler Street in Torresdale, was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person, O'Brien said.

The daughter, a minor whose identity is being withheld, was charged with narcotics possession and disorderly conduct, police said.

According to eyewitnesses at the school's graduation, a group of parents arrived at the ceremony around 8:30 a.m., early enough to find seats in the first row of bleachers on the visitor's side.

A group of four to five people arrived before the 10 a.m. start time and stood in front of the railing, blocking the view of those sitting in the front row, said the witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

At some point, the individuals sitting down said something to the group blocking their view, the witness said.

Police said the teen, a former Washington student who currently attends a cyber charter school, "began arguing . . . with other people" during the graduation. The witness said the teen was part of the group that had been standing along the rails.

The school police officers asked her to leave because she was "disruptive," said district spokesman Fernando Gallard. As they tried to physically escort her out of the stands, Morales allegedly told the officers that she wasn't going to leave.

"We are not f------g going anywhere," Morales purportedly told police, Gallard said. The officers then tried to escort Morales out of the ceremony when suddenly he punched one of the officers in the face, Gallard said.

Philadelphia police, who were at the school, on Bustleton Avenue near Gorman Street, providing additional security for the graduation, later arrested and charged the father-and-daughter.

After the teen was placed in custody, police allege that they found a small jar of what is believed to be marijuana in her possession.


" @ReginaMedina

Online: ph.ly/DNEducation

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