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Safety becomes highest priority in Reading schools

By Pam Cunningham, Reporter
Published On: Oct 03 2012 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 04 2012 05:12:50 AM CDT

Reading School Saftey Pledge

READING, Pa. -

People in Reading said they are concerned about safety in the schools.

A few weeks ago, gang violence broke out in the Reading School District and Wednesday night people were ready to tackle the violence. The community forum was called All Hands on Deck Brainstorming for Safety's Sake.

Students and others checked in at the Citadel, Reading's Intermediate High School. Many chose to sign a safety pledge. And officials said safety is the priority.

"Safety is not just a school issue; it is also a community issue," said Superintendent Carlinda Purcell.

"This is a community issue," said Mayor Vaugh Spencer.

Everyone met in the cafeteria -- the same place gang violence broke out a few weeks ago.

"There was a small fight that was a normal fight but that fight, the next thing was the retaliation that caused the larger problem, the riot if you will," said Dennis Campbell, principal of the Citadel.

But they didn't meet to focus on those specific fighting moments. The school district said it was about finding solutions.

"I think it's the right group of people to solve this problem," said Campbell.

Groups huddled around tables and held brainstorming sessions.

"I think you got to start somewhere by having the clergy here, parents, students and open to the public. That's a start," said Dan Stoeber, a parent.

Another parent at another table was concerned about busing, "Kids not being able to get on the bus and go home, they're the ones sitting after school fighting."

There were students who said they feel safe going to school.

"I don't think it's so bad," said Reading High student Francisco Reyes. "If you do your stuff, don't mind what people, focus on your school work, not look for trouble--you won't find trouble."

With a focus on solutions, Reyes' group talked about having more activities for students after school. It's just one of many the superintendent's office plans to put together in an action plan.

"Tonight is the beginning of something I hope we'll carry forward," said school board president Yvonne Stroman.

The school district said they would like to hold community forums monthly.