Philly Student Dies With No Nurse on Duty. Organizers Call for Officials to Resign


Jackson Elementary parents give statement to
the press. Photo via Philly.com

For the second time this school year, a Philadelphia student died after falling ill at school. Due to budget cuts, neither school had a full-time nurse on duty to provide appropriate medical attention to the students. Now, organizers in Philadelphia are calling for the resignation of city officials unless they can provide the full school funding necessary to put a nurse in every school. 

On Wednesday, May 21, a 7-year-old student at Jackson Elementary in South Philadelphia died. The school only has a nurse on site on Thursdays and every other Friday.

While it's unclear if having a nurse on site that day might have made the crucial difference, too many schools are similarly doing without full-time medical professionals and the situation is endangering students across the city: Last September, 6th-grader Laporshia Massey died from complications of an asthmas attack at school. Again, there was no school nurse on duty to assess the seriousness of her symptoms and get her the medical attention she needed. 

In a column for The Notebook, Helen Gym of Parents United for Public Education urged city Superintendent William Hite and the School Reform Commission to "take a stand now – or resign."

We are not engaged in the practice of education anymore. We are engaging in a sick social experiment where we strip every imaginable resource from young children and adults, then sit back and watch what happens. We blame young adults at Bartram when chaos erupts, we mull ridiculous questions about whether nurses matter in a life or death situation. But we don’t fundamentally question the structure District leadership and the SRC have designed, endorsed, and sold [...]

It's time for "accountability" from those who so often demand it from others. The true powers behind them – the governor, the mayor and City Council – have delayed, bickered, blustered, and failed to deliver on a central responsibility regarding our children’s future.

The Philadelphia Student Union also released a statement calling for the resignation of city officials:

These young people's lives were forever taken from us because of the choices made by Superintendent Hite and the School District of Philadelphia coupled with the failure from the Governor's office to provide adequate funding. In the name of "cost-cutting", laying off hundreds of nurses in recent years, the District has effectively told the young people of Philadelphia that they would rather save money than save their lives. They made a choice to under-staff schools; the students and staff of Jackson Elementary did not have the luxury of choice when it came to their lack of a nurse.

Read more about the situation in Philadelphia here.

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