The School District of Philadelphia (SDP) sent recall letters to 1,157 previously laid off student safety staff Wednesday afternoon. This announcement is a critical step to ensure student safety when schools open on September 9. The recalls come after the Fast for Safe Schools drew local and national attention to the critical role of student safety staff in the Philadelphia public schools.
The District still faces a steep budget shortfall and neither the city, state nor school district have put forward a plan for long-term, stable funding. Additional funding and staffing is needed to create the environment and provide the education that Philadelphia’s children deserve. Nevertheless, the parents and staff who fasted for safe schools were heartened by the district’s announcement.
"I feel so relieved," exclaimed Earlene Bly, who fasted in both June and August. "Now I know that my daughter and grandson will be going to school on September 9th and they’ll be able to walk the halls and lunchrooms with the student safety staff there to watch out for them. A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders."
"It will feel so good going back to work in September," said Juanita Jones, a Lead Food Service Worker at Olney Elementary School. "I can’t wait to see all my safety staff all around the school working to make sure that all students are safe."
The District decided to recall nearly all laid off student safety staff one week after more than 100 parents, clergy, students and SDP staff spent the day fasting and rallying on the district’s steps. In June, the District laid off 1,202 student safety staff (also known as noontime aides). The move sparked the 15-day Fast for Safe Schools encampment outside of Governor Corbett’s Philadelphia office to draw attention to the critical role student safety staff play in preventing violence and defusing tensions in the lunchrooms, hallways and schoolyards of SDP schools.
When retiring student safety staff are taken into account, the SDP has recalled nearly every student safety staff person available for recall.