Friday, October 21, 2011

Bruised But Not Beaten, Philadelphia Child Receives New Hope

Yesterday we read a heartbreaking story about Menduawor Comgbaye, a six-year-old in Philadelphia who was being physically abused by classmates at his public school, and the difficulties his father had in getting the school to address the harm being done to him.

Menduawor was beaten up so bad that he once had to go to the emergency room, where he was treated for abdominal injuries and his family filed a police report.

Here's an excerpt from the sad tale:
Comgbaye, interviewed at the family home, said he could not believe this was happening to his son - not in a neighborhood school, not in the United States, not after fleeing war-torn Liberia. 
As he spoke, his son came into the living room. 
"They keep beating me up," he said. "They pushed me, and I was bleeding."Comgbaye said the incidents occurred in the classroom, in the hallways, and outside the school. 
The family contacted Menduawor's teacher, who responded with a note that never received any follow up. Despite receiving assurance after an incident earlier this year that a particularly mean bully would be punished for his actions, the bully joined two accomplices in beating up Menduawor after school, the very same day the incident initially occured.

The result? Menduawor came home in worse shape than ever. A letter to the superintendent has yielded no response, and the principal failed to adequately punish the boys involved.

Here's a video that details the family's difficult struggle:

But this is a story with a happy ending. Yesterday, the Comgbaye family learned that Menduawor could transfer to the Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures (FACTS) charter school in Philadelphia starting Monday. Considering he's been out of school for three weeks—and FACTS' reputation as one of the higher-achieving schools in the city—the great news couldn't come at a better time.

Said FACTS principal Susan Stengel: "We're happy we're able to be there for this family and all of our families." You can read the great story about Menduawor returning to school here.

Put simply, this is a great example of what educational options can do to change—and perhaps save—a child's life.

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MAG

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