Thursday, August 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Tuesday, June 10, 2014, 1:25 PM
Police respond to an early report of a child with an unknown substance at Commodore John Barry Elementary School at 59th and Race Streets in Philadelphia. (Alejandro Alvarez/Staff Photographer)

An entire first grade class has been taken to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia after one of its students brought drugs to school.

Philadelphia School District spokesman Fernando Gallard said Tuesday that a first grade teacher at Barry Elementary School in West Philadelphia found one of her students playing with what appeared to be small packets of drugs. The teacher asked the child to drop the packets, then following district protocol, had them evacuate the classroom. Police and paramedics were called.

The school nurse and paramedics began checking the children, since drugs can be absorbed through the skin. Officials decided to take the entire class to CHOP for observation.

POSTED: Friday, June 6, 2014, 3:49 PM
Protesters against the possible conversion of Munoz-Marin from a public school to a charter school march down North 5th Street on June 4, 2014.( CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer )

Acting swiftly on parents' wishes, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. on Friday said Luis Muñoz Marín, a struggling Philadelphia School District elementary school, will not be given to a charter company to run.

Parents voted overwhelmingly - 223 to 70 - on Thursday for Marín to remain a traditional district school. In a separate vote, the school's advisory council voted unanimously, 11 to 0, to reject ASPIRA of Pennsylvania, the charter company vying to take over the school.

Hite, in a statement, said he was grateful to parents and community members who helped guide the process. He also extended thanks to ASPIRA.

POSTED: Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 4:34 PM
Stephanie Amato in a photo from her Facebook page.

A teacher at Ethan Allen Elementary, a public school in Mayfair, is accused of having sex with one of her students.

Stephanie Amato, 30, surrendered to authorities on Wednesday, a police spokeswoman said.

Police Officer Jillian Russell said that Amato, who was awaiting arraignment on Wednesday afternoon, is charged with statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor, interference with custody of children, endangering the welfare of a child, corruption of a minor, indecent assault and indecent exposure.

POSTED: Tuesday, June 3, 2014, 10:52 AM

U.S. District Court Judge Legrome D. Davis said Tuesday morning he would approve a settlement that ends the Philadelphia School District's policy of arbitrarily transferring elementary students with autism from school to school with no notice to their families.

The settlement came about as a result of a class-action lawsuit filed three years ago by parents frustrated by the policy. The parents, who all had second-graders at Richmond Elementary in Philadelphia, were represented by the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.

The terms of the settlement require the district to notify parents by January that their child could be transferred to a new school that fall. Officials would have to disclose the new school, if known, and inform parents of their right to meet formally with school officials about the transition.

POSTED: Thursday, May 29, 2014, 4:17 PM
Here, Superintendent William Hite (left) is seen in a file photo presiding over a School Reform Commission meeting. At Thursday's SRC meeting, three Philadelphia principals were fired in a cheating probe. (CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer / File)

Update, 6:15 p.m.

In a stunning move, the School Reform Commission declined to adopt a 2014-15 budget. They are required by city charter to do so by the end of May.

Superintendent WIlliam R. Hite Jr. said he could not in good conscience recommend a budget that would require the district to cut $216 million to make ends meet. It would mean class sizes rising to as many as 41, and layoffs of at least 800 teachers.

POSTED: Thursday, May 22, 2014, 10:13 AM

More than 50 parents and community supporters of Andrew Jackson Elementary in South Philly gathered on the steps of the school on Thursday morning to speak about the death of a Jackson student, and to demand more funding for the Philadelphia School District.

The first grader, 7, died on Wednesday afternoon at Children's Hospital after falling ill at the school. There was no nurse at Jackson at the time the child became ill; the school has a nurse every Thursday and every other Friday.

A retired nurse happened to be volunteering at the school when the child fell ill, and a staffer trained in CPR administered it before emergency personnel arrived. It's not clear whether the child had any pre-existing medical conditions, or whether having a nurse on duty would have saved his life.

POSTED: Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 5:54 PM
Exterior of Andrew Jackson Elementary School in South Phila. (Google Maps)

A 7-year-old student died suddenly after becoming ill at a city public school, district officials said.

The child, a first grader at Jackson Elementary School in South Philadelphia, experienced some sort of medical emergency. Classroom staff administered CPR and called 911, and the child was taken to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where he was pronounced dead.

"It's shocking, and it's tragic, and we extend our deepest sympathies to the family," spokesman Fernando Gallard said.

POSTED: Friday, May 16, 2014, 11:40 AM

Four educators who were arrested and charged in connection with a cheating scandal have been with suspended without pay, a Philadelphia School District spokeswoman said Friday.

Evelyn Cortez, Rita Wyszynski, Jennifer Hughes and Ary Sloane face criminal charges of conspiracy, tampering with public records, forgery and related crimes.

Cortez was principal of Cayuga Elementary. Wyszynski and Hughes were teachers there, and Sloane, a former Cayuga teacher, had most recently been principal of Bethune Elementary in the district. They, along with Lorraine Vicente, who had been laid off from the district in 2011, allegedly fostered a culture of test-cheating at the Hunting Park school.

About this blog

Inquirer reporter Kristen Graham writes the Philly School Files blog, where she covers education in Philadelphia, both in and out of the classroom.

During the school year, you’ll frequently find her hosting live chats about the district on

Please do pass along the scoop about what’s going on at your Philadelphia public school; Kristen welcomes tips, story ideas and witty banter.

Kristen Graham Inquirer Staff Writer
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