The Philadelphia School District plans to fire one of two school police officers for allegedly using "excessive force" during an altercation with a Frankford High School student in October.
The president of the school police union, however, insisted that the decision would be overturned at an arbitration hearing.
In a terse, three-paragraph statement issued late yesterday, the district said:
"Based on the facts, eyewitness interviews and review of the videotape of the unfortunate incident involving Jeffione Thomas, a 10th- grade student at Frankford High School, and two School District of Philadelphia Police Officers, the School District recommends that the one school police officer involved in the use of excessive force be terminated."
The district also plans to take disciplinary action against the second police officer involved in the Oct. 29 incident, which was captured by the school's security cameras.
Thomas, 18, has said he was late for school on the day the two officers, whom the district declined to identify, stopped him about a block from school and told him to get inside a truancy van.
Thomas concedes that he mouthed off to the officers, told them he was "already late" and continued to walk toward the school on Oxford Avenue near Wakeling Street.
Witnesses said that soon after Thomas entered the school, the officers grabbed him and that one began hitting him.
Earlier this month, the Daily News obtained a copy of an e-mail from Jack Creighton, Frankford's athletic director, to Superintendent Arlene Ackerman that read: "The student was held down by one officer while another officer beat him. The use of extreme force was uncalled for. Please do not let the lies and false statements damage this young man any more than the officers' fists already have."
Michael Lodise, president of the School Police Association of Philadelphia, said the officer that the district was firing is an eight-year veteran. The second officer is a 15-year veteran and both have "impeccable records," Lodise said.
"We will file for arbitration and I guarantee, we will get his job back."
Greg Brinkley, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Action Network, said the group would continue to press the District Attorney's Office to drop assault charges that were been filed against Thomas and to instead charge the two officers.
"This will send a strong message to any other officers that this won't be tolerated," he said. "They cannot mistreat our children."
Joyce Freeman, Thomas' grandmother, said last night: "This gentleman should never have put his hands on Jeffione. The other one shouldn't be working there either."