At Strawberry Mansion High, There's Fear, Hope

Part 1: Diane Sawyer spent months inside one of the country's most dangerous schools.
3:00 | 05/31/13

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Transcript for At Strawberry Mansion High, There's Fear, Hope
It's a story that plays out in too many communities have -- America public schools were learning takes a backseat to simply making it through the day. Tonight we take you to Philadelphia for an extraordinary tale of fear and hope in what is considered. When of the nation's most dangerous schools the city is given the strawberry mansion high school just six months to prove that should be kept open. And my colleague Diane Sawyer along with ABC produce a clear -- rob were there to witness a struggle against the odds in our latest addition. Let's hit him back. The morning begins at strawberry mansion high school with a prayer we must exceed -- Security guards take their -- to watch for razor blades in tin foil. Knives and backpacks. -- on faces used to prevent scratches and a fight. It is a school of more than 41030 kids lot of them want to alert program. Lot of them on -- hair trigger. -- -- -- -- -- The last five years mansion as the student's college has been considered when the -- dangerous schools in America. And our cameras were allowed inside. -- agreement is the fourth principle mansion is seen in forty years and she could be the last each day gets scarier. Before coming to mention when it was an assistant superintendent in the district. Not could not find a principal. Who was suitable to handle the school so bear for concerts -- myself because I love these students -- And I -- the community how war -- volunteer. To be different. -- is on -- mission to turn around the school and has just a few months to save it from being closed because of a citywide budget crisis. He's always on edge -- -- do you. Especially at lunch time at the entire school one month and this is the scary part for me. -- I don't know where I don't know about the manpower -- a man threatening a fight between two who. -- -- -- -- to bring out. Yeah -- -- -- a deep breath. And it's like this reinforced the need for strict order. So -- -- -- -- -- something never done before enforcing a dress code and it's not about gloomy but safety. No humans because -- can be used to stop head. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- She is made sure that security cameras are fixtures all over the school. How many cameras 94. 1984. People -- yes and we need more we always have to out think me. Because they're trying to -- think -- Principal -- has to -- not just about the student safety belt her own a student recently threatened her life. Distances to me Buzek probable imagining. -- -- -- -- -- In this neighborhood so I don't think there it's unreasonable. That he needed -- -- gun and shoot me. Mansion sits in the neighborhood where 40% of the people live in poverty. The highest number of homicides rapes and assaults in the city. These of the kids in the honors program -- mansion for -- it's tough at home. It's -- that I hold it. We're happy. For every student and causes trouble are so many who just want alarms. Because small quiet ninth grader named Malaysia. Who documented her days for us. Leave enough for schools and it is 6:30 AM when -- begins they should be a good thing it was -- -- -- yes they socialization vehicle. Malaysia says she just wants to make her dad proud she lives around the corner from mansion and tries hard to stay on track but it isn't easy. One day after school she gets punched in the face by another girl -- and -- She goes to -- nurse Judy. It's bruised around noon -- outside to. -- -- black alone here so we just couldn't put isolated. Malaysia worries that even though she says she had nothing to do with -- principal -- who has strict rules will suspend her for fighting. I don't want -- suspended because that's -- I don't you. But there are situations where I know what to look did not want to start anything in Annapolis -- you -- let me know -- -- -- -- can't. -- -- later -- check in. Malaysia better means for this story he's scared. Of -- -- some time to come into school. Leann. So come on little. But is not -- -- -- a swing. We also -- The ninth grade also trying to avoid trouble -- protect yourself at school. Well. I used awareness for example went because my prayer. -- write to -- saying that only -- suspended. I don't RB would be out trying to be anything and to be myself. He also tries to show up at school every day even though he shoulders a lot of responsibility at home and -- and -- -- -- -- -- -- You gotta keep everything in order keep very thing in the control what's cooking his house potatoes cook on the stove near his bed. His clothes are in those plastic -- twenty favorite subjects -- mean. Algebra or you know Nixon can -- -- in -- learning about the and -- -- Periodic table from his pride to junior military uniform he carefully lays on the chair. And they keep -- -- that doesn't get -- yes I asked him if he ever sees the way other kids live what he's watching TV. Sometimes you must see something on TV and think -- -- -- -- Joliet sometimes led -- rooms. By thousands. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- And more. He won't be hair -- else. Hopes. You. Three months to go before -- believe -- Live or die. And let this one -- war in the principal's office Scott. Even when humans -- through notes from the teachers about their problems in class then he told me this -- and hit somebody across the face. -- clients many of this year's teachers are part of principle -- regular team including the new history teacher says that the students are willing to shell out. Why am I asking him a question about fear. How -- an answer that question mediated if you're asking me. And my parade. Their children and their common school nobody wakes up in the morning. And says themselves I -- be a failure to what is the hardest part getting to the -- -- It is now winter semester. Parent teacher conferences are today many. So let me play the game craze could all of his house okay. Going it be English -- you had seen substance mr. Clinton just curious how many. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Out of his seventy students Malaysia's death. The only parent and shows up he knows she's distracted by the chaos at school but her -- are slipping -- he pleads with her to think of her own future. Let's think about me -- my life. What the same thing we do he works in construction and just wants her to have more in mind that commitment in the wouldn't want to -- -- with two point. There's but Malaysia's grades may be the least of her worries. It's -- life. I mean it's. In my lousy play she -- -- -- throw something Amy. -- girl -- school went on for ever and their violent to violence. The violent fights and that's what keeps on an everyday cast somebody is -- -- -- her. Its principal wingman walks up to hold another -- -- and suddenly a fight breaks out. Rushes in. -- -- --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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