At what point is a school no longer responsible for the acts of its students? That’s the question that the principal of South Philadelphia High School is asking following another incident of Philadelphia school violence.
Earlier this week, police say a fight among schoolgirls at the high school led to a triple shooting that critically injured a toddler, reports Philadelphia Daily News. The fight occurred off school grounds an hour after school ended, and the shootings injured the toddler, a 10-year-old boy, and their 59-year-old grandmother.
However, Otis Hackney, the principal of South Philadelphia High School, denies that the fight had anything to do with the school, reports the Daily News. Hackney admits that his students were involved in the fight, but says that the fight was over a neighborhood issue as opposed to a school issue. Hackney even said that the school could not take disciplinary action against the students involved because the fight was completely unrelated to school.
Hackney may be taking this hands-off approach to the fight because his school could face legal liability if it is determined that the fight was school-related. Schools are legally required to keep their premises safe and they have a duty to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of students and others on the property.
As South Philadelphia High School was the subject of the much publicized racial attacks against 30 Asian students, one could argue that the school should have been on high alert to school violence and weapons.
But if Otis Hackney is correct — that the fight had nothing to do with the school — South Philadelphia High School would probably not be responsible for the alleged Philadelphia school violence.