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Parents Considering Legal Action Over Hobbled Philadelphia Schools

By Mike DeNardo, Todd Quinones

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- With short-staffed Philadelphia schools opening in four days (see related stories), parents are weighing their legal options.

Tired of waiting for answers on how schools can open Monday with overcrowded classes and barely any counselors or support staff, parents are looking at taking matters into their own hands.

"Who is going to say that something happened in the bathroom if no one is in the hallway? And who is going to write up the incident report for an incident that was never seen?" parent Robin Roberts asked.

"I was at meetings for two children who have autism. Neither of whom have a ride to school on Monday. Okay? We're talking really basic stuff," said Sonja Kerr of Public Interest Law Center.

Helen Gym, founder of Parents United for Public Education, says parents are meeting with attorneys to talk about the process of filing complaints with the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

"What we are doing with the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia is having a solid conversation about what our legal rights are," Gym told KYW Newsradio today.   "We want to inform every parent about how to file complaints.  We want to explore different ways of raising the attention of the state Department of Education."

They are urging parents to document any problems they have and to send the complaints directly to the State Department of Education and Superintendent Dr. William Hite.

Gym says parents need to take action because so far city leaders haven't.

"We're very upset. We're angry. We're emotional, but we're also going to be very empowered. We're going to be defiant about this and we're not going to stop until this situation gets fixed," said Gym.

School district officials have repeatedly said they will be ready for the start of the school year and that efforts are being made to ensure children's safety.

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