Pittsburgh Public Schools looking into reports of bullying of immigrant students

Nov 22, 2016 by

Officials with the Pittsburgh Public Schools are investigating reports that two students from Syria and another immigrant student were harassed by their peers last week.

District spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said that in one case, the two Syrian students complained of harassment on a bus. She didn’t know the ethnicity of the third student, but said both incidents occurred sometime last week and are under investigation by the district.

“If anything was found valid, students could face disciplinary action,” Ms. Pugh said, declining to provide details of the allegations or name their school.

In a robocall to parents Thursday, planned in advance of these reports, superintendent Anthony Hamlet said students from 57 countries who speak 46 languages attend Pittsburgh Public Schools, a diversity that’s “one of our greatest assets.”

“We believe that every student deserves to learn in a respectful, inclusive learning community that helps them feel safe and supported,” he said. “With that in mind, the district will not condone speech or actions that divide our students or communities. It is important for all of us to continue to treat others with differing perspectives and opinions with respect, tolerance and dignity.”

The same day his call went out, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that he had directed districts across Pennsylvania to report incidents of racism and hate speech to the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Office of Safe Schools. That office and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission will make resources available as part of this “Safe Schools Plan.”

“We need to fight racism and bigotry when it arises and my administration will work actively with school districts and other public institutions to stand up to intolerance,” Mr. Wolf said in a news release. “Our schools must be safe and open spaces where all children can learn and grow free of concerns for their physical, mental, and emotional safety.”

Wolf spokesman Mark Nicastre said the plan was “a reaction to some of the more prominent issues that have happened over the past week in Pennsylvania.”

Source: Pittsburgh Public Schools looking into reports of bullying of immigrant students

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