By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia public schools open in less than a month, and principals are getting ready by attending a three-day summit on school safety.

In a district where budget cuts have meant fewer school police officers, it’s even more important for principals to foster an atmosphere of caring and respect, says incoming Philadelphia schools superintendent Dr. William Hite.

“This doesn’t suggest that there’s not a need for enforcement or structures — those things are extremely important,” he tells KYW Newsradio.  “But equally important are environments where we talk about the understanding of what students are going through and how we respond to those types of requests for help.”

Hite told 500 principals and assistant principals meeting today at Lincoln Financial Field that they can’t arrest or suspend their way to safety.   He says the key is recognizing that a student acting out is often a cry for help.

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