The violence that has plagued Asian immigrant students in some of the city's toughest schools has existed for years.
But a group of students at South Philadelphia High School and community leaders hope that in a week they can begin to address ways to finally end the reign of terror.
Starting today, and to last this week, about 50 students plan to stage a walkout in response to the assaults of dozens of Asian students that occurred during and after school on Thursday.
But instead of cowering in fear, students and community members will meet to draft recommendations to the school's principal, LaGreta Brown, and school district officials on how to improve security at the school, said Xu Lin, a community organizer for the Chinatown Development Corporation, who will work closely with the group.
"I think the students are brave," Lin said. "They're not helpless. They stood up for themselves. It's the adults who aren't being responsive."
Wei Chen, president of a Chinese student group at the school, agreed that school officials could have done more to protect Asian students.
"We have been working with the school a long time, but still the school has failed to provide a concrete plan to address our safety inside and outside the building," Chen said in a statement released yesterday.
Asian students in the school will be encouraged to begin documenting assaults against them, Lin said. And student leaders may even make their case before the School Reform Commission about the matter, he said.
Since Thursday's melee, the district has responded by boosting security in and around the building. City and school police officers and community members will also patrol the blocks around the school to ensure that kids get to and from the building safely, said a district official.
School officials will also "evaluate and look at data to know when and where to deploy staff," said Michael Silverman, the regional superintendent who oversees South Philly High, as well as the city's other neighborhood high schools.
He added that he's willing to consider the group's proposed solutions. He also acknowledged that having diversity and sensitivity workshops for students is necessary.
"This is something that shouldn't happen in our schools," he said referring to last week's incident.
"I don't think any child should be concerned about their safety and having to look over their shoulder." District spokesman Fernando Gallard said that as long as students bring in a note from a parent or guardian, their absence will be excused.
Seven Chinese students were treated for scrapes and bruises at Methodist Hospital Thursday, after a group of African-American students allegedly jumped them, and repeatedly punched and kicked them.
District officials said that 10 students have been suspended. No arrests were reported.