Charter school students: targets or violent participants?

In Monday's Daily News (p. 24), charter school CEO Veronica Joyner said the reason why a group of charter school students from Boys' Latin were attacked is the same reason why many other charter school students are targeted. It's because their uniforms and demeanor are perceived by students who attend other schools as "nerdy."

Wanda Haines, a mother of one of the boys who was slashed by a West Catholic student last week, agrees. She said her 15-year-old son, a sophomore at Boys' Latin, has been picked on numerous times by students from West Philadelphia High, Robeson and more recently, West Catholic, an Archdioscese of Philadelphia school, where students are also required to wear uniforms. Tensions between students at the Archdiocese school and the West Philly charter came to a violent head when several boys were slashed or stabbed by a West Catholic student last week.

Joyner said that others charters are experiencing similar problems, that she said goes unreported because administrators misconstrue the violence as mutual fights between students.

David Hardy, CEO of Boys' Latin in West Philly, said that Joyner's argument of non-charter school students preying on charter school kids may be part of the problem, but a small part. In fact, he said the real problem is youth's propensity for violence regardless of what kind of school they attend.

"They’re all the same kids,” he said about students enrolled in both charters and traditional schools. “They may act a little different once they’re in school. Even if there's a perception . . .we're pulling from the same pot. Some students get in [to charters], some students don't. It's a luck of the draw."

He added that many students tend to respond to situations with violence rather than reason.

"It was a dumb decision and there are going to be consequences. But no one's getting the death penalty."

Though students are responsible for their own decisions, he added there's still an overwhelming need for adults to intervene whenever they see young people behaving badly.

*This blog post contains content that - for whatever - was not included in the original story that appeared in the paper.