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Philadelphia's List of 'Persistently Dangerous' Schools Gets Pared Down

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- There are fewer Philadelphia schools on the state's "persistently dangerous" list this year.

Now there are just six Philadelphia schools deemed "persistently dangerous."  Six other schools and two "Renaissance" charters (designated for special turnaround effort by the school district) were removed from this year's list.  Two schools were added.

Lori Shorr, the mayor's chief education officer, says the overall reduction can only help the perception of city schools.

"I think the title "persistently dangerous" is not anything you ever want associated with your schools," she said today, "and the fact that we have so many less schools meeting that criteria is good news for the city."

The district says the rate of violent incidents was down slightly (2.71 to 2.66 per 100 students), and school fires down by a third, but morals offenses were up 38 percent last year over the year before.

Gratz High is now off the list, and principal LaQuanda Jackson (top photo) credits the new attitude established when Mastery Charter Schools took over Gratz last fall.

"We walked in and we said, 'We are going to be successful.  This is going to be a nonviolent school.  This is going to be a school where students go to college.'   And by the end of last year, that is exactly who we were."

Jackson says the climate has improved to the point that this fall, Mastery removed the metal detectors at the separate entrance to Gratz's ninth-grade "academy." (Metal detectors remain at the entrances used by 10th-12th graders.)

Philadelphia Schools removed from the Pa. Department of Education's "Persistently Dangerous" list:

Edison High
Fels High
Northeast High
Sayre High
South Philadelphia High
Sayre Middle
Renaissance Charter-Mastery Gratz
Renaissance Charter-Universal Audenried

Schools now on the "Persistently Dangerous" list:

Beeber Middle (new)
Douglas High (new)
Frankford High
Kensington Business High
Lincoln High
Strawberry Mansion High


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