‘Safety continues to deteriorate’: Union leaders call for action amid violence at Rochester schools

Regional News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — In a letter issued by the teacher’s union, representatives requested that RCSD place an immediate directive for any student who engages in violence at school property.

As part of their appeal, the Rochester Teachers Association (RTA) requested that students involved in violence be placed in remote learning and be receive mental or emotional health counselling.

The request was sent to administrative leaders at RCSD on Sunday, in part stating:

“As representatives of Rochester City School District’s teachers, paraprofessionals, school administrators, and non-teaching employees, we are calling on you to immediately issue a directive that any student who engages in violence at school, and causes injury to others, be placed on remote learning and also receive the social, emotional and mental health support that they may need.”

“This would also protect the right of all other students to learn in a safer environment and would diminish the likelihood of further injury to students and school staff.”

In response to the letter, RCSD Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small communicated a statement on a series of steps the district will take to address the issue but refused to exercise the policy request set forth by RTA.

Within the statement, Myers-Small reiterated the current system of conduct for ‘violent behavior’ and shared a new support plan for Franklin Upper School to be put in effect immediately:

  • Staffing supports (School Safety Officers and the Mobile Safety Unit)
  • School-specific needs to be addressed during Superintendent Conference Day including work sessions
  • Principal Smith will meet with his staff on Monday to gather feedback and share next steps
  • Support teams (Trauma, Illness and Grief and ROCRestorative) will be available to address needs

The complete outline of actions by the district are set to be shared with parents on Wednesday, Nov. 3.

When asked about the superintendent’s response, RTA President Adam Urbanski suggested the district’s inaction is the reason to why schools remain unsafe.

“The superintendent’s response is a non-response,” Urbanski said. “We are checking with our attorneys whether her claims that putting violent students who cause injury to others would indeed be a violation of student privacy or of any educational law.”

This comes two days after five different teaching staff members at Franklin High School in Rochester were were allegedly assaulted.

In addition to its call for action against violations on safety at schools, RTA also suggested placing school resource officers inside area high schools. Myers-Small did not support the idea.

During a recent schoolboard meeting on October 28, Myers-Small said new modifications at several schools’ arrival and dismissal procedures will be prepared.

“We will be collaborating with our board and dads or parents and students in our entire community for a panel discussion,” Dr. Leslie Myers Small explained.

On October 21, Urbanski said a Franklin High School student was suspended after a teacher at RCSD was allegedly sexually assaulted by the same student earlier that month.

The rise in violence at schools has been questioned by local organizations, parents and now RTA.

In their most recent statement to the district, union members urged leaders to issue the directive before schools reopen on Monday.

A second proposal letter addressed to Myers-Small and district members asking for changes to make the district safer was sent by RTA earlier this month. It has not been re-stated by RCSD.

BENTE President Dan DiClemente, RAP President Angelina Rivera, ASAR President John Rowe, and Urbanski co-wrote the most recent letter.

RCSD Response Letter

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

If you have a news tip or a correction to the story you can email it to us through this link. If you would like to send a comment to the author of the story, you can find their email on our Meet the Team page.

Trending Now