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New co-principal at Bartram speaks about changing school climate

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks

After a staffer at Bartram High School was knocked unconscious by a student last month, the Southwest Philadelphia school has faced increased public scrutiny.

The District has responded to the outcry by bringing in one of its veteran school climate specialists: retired District principal Ozzie Wright.

Since retiring from the District in the mid-2000s, Wright has been called back multiple times to help the District deal with emergencies at Germantown, South Philly and West Philly high schools.

He arrived at Bartram to become co-principal at the beginning of this week.

"Within the last week or so, what we’ve seen is a reduction of students in the hallways because we’ve started hall sweeps," he said in a telephone interview. "We’re seeing a reduction of latenesses. We’ve also had an increase in personnel who helps us to move students into our classes."

Countdown clock deployed

One of the ways the school has reduced the number of students wandering the hallways is with a countdown clock. During an interview with Wright, Bartram’s assistant principal came on over the loudspeaker.

"I’m going to count down from 20 to zero," he said. "All students must be in their classrooms at the end."

After pronouncing "zero," he continued: "Teachers, please close your doors. Any students that arrive at this time are late. Please document them as so … Detentions will be issued to those students who are late. Any student who misses detention will be suspended."

Wright, speaking from his first-floor office, described the scene after the countdown.

"I’m looking right from my office into the hallways. … I see two students … and that’s good, not like it was before."

Wright later amended the assistant principal’s statement about suspensions, saying that they should only be used after parent intervention.

"Students should not be suspended for being late to detention," he said.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks

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