Parents sue to stop closure of Harrison School

A group of parents at Harrison Elementary have filed a federal lawsuit to try to stop the planned closure of their school.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday by several parents and by District 1199C, National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, AFSCME, AFL-CIO (many of its members are Harrison parents), alleges that students will be adversely affected by the closure.

They say that special education students, in particular, will be hurt by the closure and that students' physical welfare will be endangered by having to cross dangerous neighborhoods to walk to new schools.  They also blast what they call a strategy of "flooding the area of North Central Philadelphia with charter schools" and schools closings as a "calculated effort to privatize the education of the poorest students.  There has been no effort to address the underlying issues, such as changing reading programs every 3-4 months and assigning new, inexperienced teachers to the classrooms of the economically disadvantaged."

Harrison is one of the eight schools the School Reform Commission voted in March to close.  It is scheduled to close next week.

Named as defendants in the suit are the Philadelphia School District, the state education department, and the Mayor's Office of Education.

School district spokesman Fernando Gallard said the district does not comment on pending litigation.