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Parents react to news of student assault in Harrisburg

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Parents in the Harrisburg school district want security concerns addressed immediately after they say the school district failed to notify them about a student assault last week.

Harrisburg Police are searching for a man they say physically assaulted and possibly sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl on her way to school Friday morning.

"That really hurts my heart to know that these kids are not even safe to go to school at this point in time. What's going on out here, like you can't get an education no more," said Keyonnna Garland, a parent and resident of Harrisburg.

The student was walking along the 2300 block of Market Street around 7:40 a.m. on her way to John Harris High School. She was about a block away from school property when police say a man approached her, threatened her with a weapon and forced her behind a nearby home. The girl was later taken to the hospital.

Parents in the area say lack of security is the problem. "They either need to get more security in these schools, more security on these roads while these children are walking or they need to start providing buses for all these kids to get back and forth to school," added Garland.

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse took aim at the district in a statement released Friday. The mayor said in part,"I am deeply distressed and call upon the school district to work with police to make sure our children are protected ... We must do everything we can to protect our children and to provide a safe community for their education and growth."

The Harrisburg School District released a statement on Friday saying it would beef up security for homecoming festivities over the weekend and through next week. The statement goes on to say, "Beginning next week, the district will provide educational and counseling support services to students at its John Harris Campus (and other schools) in collaboration with the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg and its Sexual Assault Prevention Education Program."

And while the district says it's working closely with police, the statement fell short of addressing specific security measures moving forward.

"They are our responsibility because we are the parents but when they're not under our care, they're with the school so they should take responsibility too," added Carmelle Jones, a parent and resident of Harrisburg.


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