Central High students walked out of class in protest of a safety officer’s transfer | #schoolsaftey

More than 100 Central High students walked out of school Monday, upset over the transfer of a school safety officer who had been a fixture at the magnet school for years.

Fawn Wright was the person who greeted students at the door for the past seven years, always with a “Good morning” or a “How are you, baby?” She told students Friday that she was being transferred to another district school.

Christina Clark, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia School District, said that school safety officers can be moved between schools “for a variety of reasons. School Safety Officer Wright is employed with the district and Central High School is her assigned school.”

No more information was available.

More than 100 students walked out of Central High Monday to protest the transfer of a school safety officer.. … Read moreKristen A. Graham / STAFF

Nearly 1,500 people had signed onto an online petition created by Central students; 500 more signed a paper petition that, Central senior Malachi Wingate said, was meant to show “unwavering support for Officer Wright and advocate for her continued presence at our beloved institution.”

Shortly before noon Monday, students poured out of the front door of the imposing building at Ogontz and Olney Avenues, where more than 2,000 students attend, walking a few hundred yards in a drizzling rain. “Stay Wright Here,” they chanted.

A few waved signs. Someone brought a bullhorn.

“She loved us like we were her own kids,” said Thomas Monahon, a Central senior. (In fact, Wright’s own daughter attends the school.)

When district leadership removed the “school police” label from its security officers, who do not carry guns or have arrest powers, they said they wanted officers to serve as mentors and trusted adults, rather than student adversaries.

Yana Diakite, a Central sophomore, said that’s exactly who Wright is, that she made students feel safe and welcomed.

“She always asked me how my mom is, how my siblings are,” said Diakite. “I called her my school mom.”

Students said they were angry and upset when Wright was removed, and felt like they needed to make a public stand, even if it meant walking out of class. (They stayed outside for about 40 minutes before walking back in.)

“It’s important,” Wingate said. “We’re making good trouble.”

Kate Davis, who is Central’s president — the school’s leaders are known as presidents, not principals — said she and other administrators met with 50 students for more than an hour Monday, and would meet again Tuesday.

Officers’ assignments are not controlled by principals, but by the Office of School Safety, but Davis said she understood the students’ concerns and their feelings of goodwill toward Wright.

She also said students who walked out will not be subject to school discipline.

“We believe that student voices matter,” said Davis. “It is a goal of mine to create more accessible spaces for students to express their thoughts and feelings. We are continuing to work on this.”

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