Officials worry about speed and safety outside charter school

- Officials at a local charter school are worried about safety after a female staffer was struck by a car this morning.

Afternoon dismissal is organized chaos at the First Philadelphia Prep charter school on the 4300 block of Tacony Street and morning arrival is even worse. The K-12 school, with nearly 1900 students, sits on a stretch of roadway clogged by 18-wheelers and cars looking for a shortcut to I-95.

Veteran educator Dr. Joseph Gillespie is the school's CEO since 2014 and had been complaining about the dangers from the start.

"I've often seen this as an accident waiting to happen," said Gillespie to FOX 29's Bruce Gordon. "It's a dangerous street."

Just after seven o'clock Monday morning, a female staffer at the school was struck by a car and injured right in front of the building. It was just the latest accident or near-miss on the stretch of roadway that strikes fear in the hearts of parents.

"It's crazy," says Sauline Llanes. 

Do drivers follow the rules of the road?

"Not usually," says Llanes. "No."

Despite the presence of young students who must cross Tacony to to get to and from recess, Dr. Gillespie says the street has no regular police presence, no crossing guards, no stop sign at the mid-block intersection, no speed bumps or humps-- not even a painted pedestrian crosswalk!

"We're going to have to do that ourselves-- we'll take it upon ourselves to paint that ourselves. It's not what you're supposed to do. I'd love to put up speed bumps too-- I don't know how to do that!"

He wasn't kidding.

Right around noon, a school workmen came out with his yellow paint and roller to create a crosswalk right there on Tacony. Tacony was blockaded at either end of the school complex, pushing traffic onto side streets.
As the painter worked, a fellow employee with a "stop sign" paddle shepherded youngsters across the busy street, one group after another.

In about an hour, the crosswalk was complete. Dr. Gillespie says they've ordered stencils so that "slow down" warnings can be painted onto the street as well. None of this is exactly legal.

"And if we get fined or cited for it," says Gillespie, "I'm going to err on the side of safety. I'll pay a fine or a citation if it keeps people safe."

Gillespie says that female staffer suffered a broken left arm and fractured left knee in the morning accident. She will remain in the hospital overnight but is expected to recover.

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