In my experience, talking to parents of the harassers is not a good option, unless you know them well and are sure they would not approve of their children's behavior. The harassment is taking place at school and it is the school's responsibility to stop the bullying.
Bullying and harassing cause so many children to hate school and sometimes to drop out. I applaud your efforts to find a way out of this dilemma. I think having the teacher intervene is a very appropriate first step. Does your school have a peer mediation program or could the school counselor set up one between your son and one of the harassers? If such mediation took place, your son would feel more in control of the situation and learn ways to assert himself. Also the harassers would know that this is serious business.
Your son is like so many kids his age who believe that the intervention of the principal will only make things worse, and sometimes it can, if not handled correctly. However, if the mediation does not work, or the school can't or won't do it, then I believe you have to involve the principal -- not with just a warning, but with some kind of consequences for the harassers (in-house suspension or whatever the school has set up for bullying behaviors). The school has the moral and legal responsibility to make sure that every child has a safe environment for learning. Your son does not have a safe environment and he is beginning the dropping-out process.
If none of the above is done by the school, or if the harassment and physical assaults continue, file charges against the bullies with the student resource officer (policeman) or the local police department.
For the sake of your son's emotional and physical safety and for a safe non-hostile atmosphere for all other children, you have every right to call upon the school to examine and perhaps change the way it handles teasing, name calling, and all other forms of harassment.