A company paid to run more than 30 Philadelphia public schools argued in court last week that it is not responsible for enforcing safety measures, prompting national education experts to question the validity of public-private arrangements for struggling schools.

The family of a student who was raped by a classmate at Stetson Middle School in 2004 sued Edison Schools Inc., a for-profit company that was given control of 32 Philadelphia schools in 2002, for failing to provide adequate security.

The trial ended June 27, and Edison subsequently agreed to a settlement with the victim's family. But Edison's initial defense has prompted renewed


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