Reading parents vent frustrations over safety in schools

READING, Pa. - Several Reading School District parents voiced their frustrations and concerns regarding safety and prior incidents within the district during Wednesday evening's regular school board meeting, held in the Amanda Stout Elementary School gymnasium.

Yvette Santiago spoke of an incident in which her ninth grade daughter, a former Citadel student, was assaulted by a Reading High student in front of police, but did not receive a call from the district after the incident happened and has yet to receive a call.

"My daughter was jumped. This was all over social media, and I have yet to receive a call from the school about my daughter’s assault," Santiago said. "I don't get it. Why?"

Santiago said she now sends her daughter to the I-LEAD Charter School at Fourth and Penn streets.

Another mother, Lakisha Williams, described an incident at the Citadel. Her daughter, who was 13 at the time, was allegedly assaulted by a police officer who was trying to break up a fight in October 2015.

Williams said the incident left her daughter out of school for six months and in a wheelchair for three more with a broken hip. Williams added her daughter suffers from permanent injuries and has left one of her legs shorter than the other.

"I went to the school board, I went to the police station and filed numerous reports. Not once did the school district take responsibility for my child," she said.

Williams said she, too, has since sent her daughter to I-LEAD.

Tamia Barrie, mother of a five-year-old boy, said she has seen other parents drive their vehicles onto the sidewalk while dropping off children or to maneuver around other vehicles at 10th and Green Elementary School.

"Last week, a little girl was walking and a lady was driving on the sidewalk and almost hit the little girl. I had to snatch her out of the way," she said.

"I have called the school district, I have filed complaints, I have talked to the principal," she said. "I'm calling all the time and no one's doing anything about it. Those kids need security. These kids are not safe."

District Superintendent Khalid Mumin said Barrie's issue is a matter for the police, but said he will direct this message to Mayor Wally Scott.

Board President Abraham Cepeda said the board has taken measures to increase safety within the district.

"Although there have been incidents in the past, we have taken steps, this year and last year, to increase the safety in our facilities and with our security officers," Cepeda said.

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