Sex assault spurs Bryant parents to action

AT BRYANT ELEMENTARY, the West Philadelphia school still reeling after three fourth-graders were arrested Monday for allegedly sexually assaulting another student, a group of parents gathered last night and resolved to do what it takes to make sure their children are safe.

"The ones who don't want to get involved, I'll fight for your kid," Janice Hamilton, whose son is in the same class as the boys who were arrested, told the group, to a small round of applause.

Principal Jala Pearson implored the group of roughly 20 parents to volunteer to help monitor recess, the lunchroom, the front door and the school yard on school days. She assured parents that she has contacted the district to request more staff for support at the school.

Pearson said that she held the meeting so that school administrators and parents could work together.

"We need to heal as a school," she said.

Karren Dunkley, deputy of the school district's Office of Parent, Family, Community Engagement & Faith-Based Partnerships, spoke with the group about starting a home-and-school group and encouraged them to voice their concerns.

The alleged assault occurred Oct. 24, when police say that three boys - two 10-year-olds and one 11 years old - grabbed the 8-year-old victim when he entered a bathroom, pulled down his pants and made "sexual contact." The boys are charged with attempted rape, indecent assault, unlawful restraint and related offenses.

"The school found a need for greater parent involvement after the incident," district spokesman Fernando Gallard said. "That's what came out of a bunch of difficult meetings."