Home / National News / 17-Year-Old Philadelphia Student Dies After Altercation With School Staff, Police Say


(PHILADELPHIA) — A 17-year-old Philadelphia student died Thursday after an altercation with school staff, police said.

Staff members at Wordsworth Academy in the West Philadelphia neighborhood of Wynnefield Heights were conducting an investigation into an unauthorized item in the student’s room when the incident occurred, said Sgt. Eric Gripp, public information officer for the Philadelphia Police Department. When staff left the room, they tell police they heard banging on the other side of the door from the student apparently attempting to barricade himself in the room.

The student continued to apparently attempt to barricade the door despite the staff members’ repeated instructions for him to stop, police said. When the staff members again entered the room, they reported that they found it in “complete disarray,” with broken fixtures and furniture, and the student standing on the bed.

The staff members told the student to calm down, but he began to yell and strike them, police said. While the staff members were trying to “gain control” of him, he lost consciousness, according to police. The staff members tried to revive the student, attempting first aid and CPR until the arrival of an emergency services medic, who was unable to resuscitate the student.

The student, whose name was not released, was lying unresponsive on the floor when police arrived at the school. He was pronounced dead at 9:36 p.m.

The student’s death has not been ruled a homicide but is under investigation by the department’s homicide unit, Gripp said.

In a statement, the school said it was “shocked and saddened” by the “loss” of the student’s life. It could not comment on the incident due to the ongoing investigation, which could take several days, it said, adding that it is “working closely” with authorities to provide accurate and timely information.

Wordsworth Academy is a private, nonprofit residential juvenile treatment program whose “mission” is to “provide education, behavioral health and child welfare services to children and youth who are experiencing emotional, behavioral and academic challenges so that they are empowered to reach their potential and lead productive, fulfilling lives,” according to its website. Students attend Wordsworth Academy due to court commitments or a requirement by the Department of Human Services, police said.

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