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Nutter Says Many South Philly Students Back to Class

Mayor Nutter said that many of the Asian students who have been boycotting classes at South Philadelphia High School after a series of violent attacks have returned to school today.

"I am proud of the students and their parents for coming back to school," Nutter said. He did not know exactly how many students were back at school today, calling it a "large number," and would not detail what prompted their return.

Helen Gym, a board member of Asian Americans United, said that between 50 and 60 students have been boycotting classes for seven days. She said she didn't know what number returned today, but said some students are still not ready to attend.

Nutter said he was hopeful that the situation at South Philly High will improve. He expressed support for schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, who has drawn criticism from Asian-American groups for refusing to meet with students and their families outside of school.

"All of us responded very quickly, very swiftly and very directly," Nutter said. Plans are underway to increase security at the school and to add a diversity program.

UPDATE, 3:26 PM: Gym said that at least half of the boycotting students remained out of school today. They want to meet with Ackerman before they return, she said.

Gym also questioned Nutter's support for Ackerman.

"For him to express support for the principal and express support for district officials without having a clear understanding for what happened is, in itself, very disappointing," Gym said. "The mayor's comments seem to apply that he wants things to go away. He wants things to end."

UPDATE, 6:24 P.M.: In response to Gym's remarks, mayoral spokesman Douglas Oliver said: "The mayor only wanted to share the good news about this most recent development and to underscore his commitment to ensure that all students, regardless of race or ethnicity are safe and have access to quality education."