The letter to parents at Benjamin Franklin High and Science Leadership Academy portrayed the damaged asbestos inside the $37 million school project as a surprise. But, records show, the discovery of the hazardous fibers at the Philly school should have been far from shocking. An Inquirer analysis details how it all went wrong. In other news, Michael White, the bicycle courier charged with fatally stabbing real estate developer Sean Schellenger near Rittenhouse Square last year, was found not guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

When the Philadelphia School District shut Benjamin Franklin High and Science Leadership Academy to students this month after damaged asbestos was discovered inside the school, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. told parents he was “caught off guard" when the $37 million project ran into problems.

But the school’s track record with asbestos is long, and the issues putting kids at risk in Philadelphia’s schools should be far from surprising, reports show.

An Inquirer review of hundreds of pages of the School District’s documents about the Ben Franklin construction project reveals a trail of errors — and an early, critical misstep — by the district and its contractors.

Deliberating for about eight hours over two days, a jury found Michael White not guilty of voluntary manslaughter Thursday in the fatal stabbing of real estate developer Sean Schellenger during a scuffle near Rittenhouse Square last year — a clash that attracted widespread attention for seeming to exemplify the city’s long-standing tensions over race and class.

Instead, White, who was working as a bicycle courier the night of the deadly stabbing, was convicted of tampering with evidence and cleared of all other charges.

After the judge ordered her to leave the courtroom Thursday, Schellenger’s mother said District Attorney Larry Krasner had “blood on his hands” for the way he handled the case.

Their business in the popular Old City corridor was floundering. In a fight with their landlord, they threatened to destroy the whole building. And on Feb. 18, 2018, according to federal authorities, they did.

B-Sides hookah bar owners and brothers Imad and Bahaa Dawara were charged Thursday with intentionally setting the massive, four-alarm fire that destroyed their 239 Chestnut St. building and quickly spread to others in Old City, displacing hundreds of neighboring residents, devastating several popular eateries, and causing more than $20 million in damage.

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Giuliani Law Firm
Signe Wilkinson
Giuliani Law Firm

“The damage that has been done to household budgets, taxpayer confidence, and morale ought to be a warning that Philly ought to pause, at least temporarily, before starting significant IT-related projects. There needs to be a full review of what happened so that it doesn’t happen again.” - The Inquirer Editorial Board on Philadelphia’s new, unreliable payroll system.

  • Many people still don’t understand slavery and the case for reparations, but a new movie could educate them, writes columnist Jenice Armstrong.
  • From the photo of Nancy Pelosi pointing at President Donald Trump to the four women on the Democratic debate stage this week, a war for equal sway is in full swing, writes columnist Maria Panaritis.

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A view of the Delaware Water Gap from the top of Mt. Tammany in Hardwick Township, NJ on October 8, 2019. Below is the Delaware River.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
A view of the Delaware Water Gap from the top of Mt. Tammany in Hardwick Township, NJ on October 8, 2019. Below is the Delaware River.

Your Daily Dose of | Gap in History

Formed over millions of years as surface water found its way through faults and fractures in the Appalachian mountain belt, the Delaware River Water Gap is often considered the crown jewel of the watershed. But in an instant, it almost disappeared.