Responding to the recent wave of school-related violence, Superintendent Walter G. Amprey today unveiled a plan to beef up safety at city schools.
"I am appalled by the recent fights, group assaults and acts of random violence that have occurred in or near our schools," said Amprey, at a news conference at Arnett J. Brown Jr. Middle School in Cherry Hill.
Flanked by principals and city law enforcement officials, the superintendent declared: "We cannot tolerate this aggressive and disruptive behavior."
In response, he issued an action plan that relies heavily on community involvement and efforts by school staff and students to promote safe, secure schools.
But Amprey did not recommend extra school police, added city police patrols or more radical -- and costly -- security measures, such as metal detectors in the schools.
And he came in for sharp questioning from some parents and students, who blamed the wave of violence on cutbacks in city services that leave children on the street.
"I have two kids, 12 and 13, and they have no place to go," said Mable Ford, who complained about the planned shutdown of the dTC public library in Cherry Hill. "Violence is still going to be here, because the resources are gone here in the community."
Amprey's plan follows recent beatings of students by groups of youngsters, shootouts near schools, and drug and firearm incidents involving students.
The plan cites steps that already have been taken, including "brainstorming" sessions with principals and city and school police and community meetings to focus on the problem of school violence.
Last week, Amprey also sent letters to students, parents and teachers seeking their help in fighting the problem.
By next month, Amprey also plans to tour specific schools at arrival and dismissal time, accompanied by his Cabinet and sometimes by school and city police.
His plan also features student and parent safety patrols, and school-community work groups. And it calls for extensive student involvement, including meetings with the superintendent.