Pittsburgh Milliones school suffering safety ‘crisis,’ group says
March 1, 2016 12:04 AM
Pam Panchak / Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh Milliones 6-12.
By Molly Born / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Bloomfield-Garfield Corp. called on city and school leaders Monday to address what the community organization’s leader called a safety “crisis” at Pittsburgh Milliones 6-12.
Their concerns, outlined in a letter, came hours after a fight involving at least 30 female students erupted that morning at the Hill District school, also called University Prep, which serves children from several East End neighborhoods.
“It’s clear that this has reached a level that cannot be tolerated by the community,” Rick Swartz, the corporation’s executive director, said in an interview. “Fighting and violence cannot be part of the school day, and it has become part of the school day at U-Prep.”
In her response to the organization and other city leaders, superintendent Linda Lane cited “ongoing issues” between students from Garfield and those from the Hill District — a rivalry that has escalated this year — as the reason behind the fight Monday.
“The information gathered so far indicates this is coming from the neighborhood, not spilling into it,” Mrs. Lane wrote.
Mr. Swartz said his three staff members assigned to the school will continue their work with juniors and seniors participating in the organization’s college and career-readiness program. The staff members, who are at the school daily, don’t feel in danger themselves, he said, but they have noted at least one “serious” fight per week since September. The organization heard about the “simmering feud” between neighborhoods about a month ago, he said.
School district spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said the fight Monday started with four girls arguing over a neighborhood dispute involving Garfield and the Hill District, and eventually at least 30 female students were involved. City and school police responded at 9:47 a.m.
A girl suffered an asthma attack during the fight. A teacher, school police officer and security guard complained of possible injuries and went to an urgent care center Monday afternoon, Ms. Pugh said.
Bloomfield-Garfield Corp. staff reported that the fighting lasted more than a half-hour, Mr. Swartz said.
In their letter, Mr. Swartz and his colleagues suggested city and school leaders bring “a flood of support” to “help stabilize” the school, including more counseling staff and security guards and a closer partnership with city police. Mrs. Lane said school police and central office staff will increase their support at the school.
“While we do appreciate support from our community, we also believe that this is our responsibility, and I am sure the board agrees. We will provide additional plans to them, possibly seeking board action, in the very near future,” she wrote. Through a spokeswoman, she would not elaborate on what that might entail.
A spokesman for Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said it would be premature to comment.
Tim McNulty, spokesman for Mayor Bill Peduto, said in a statement: “Mayor Peduto is aware of the community concerns, has been in contact with district leadership on the matter, and plans to review the situation with police and school officials."
Staff writer Andrew Goldstein contributed. Molly Born: email@example.com.