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Urgent request from the Rochester City School Superintendent on addressing youth violence

Updated: 12/04/2013 11:28 PM
Created: 12/04/2013 11:25 PM WHEC.com

It's an urgent request from the Rochester City School Superintendent.

Doctor Bolgen Vargas is asking parents for more support when it comes to addressing youth violence.

He sent a letter to them, and in it, he brings up the shooting death of a teen on Genesee Street Monday afternoon.

Police say Kemari Hodricks was killed.

Another teen, Dante Rankin is charged with second-degree murder.

The superintendent says this is the latest in a series of violent events this year, involving current or former students.

In the letter he says school programs and community support can't replace the need for active and committed parents. 

Here is a copy of the full letter:

Dear Parents and Families,

I write to you with a heavy heart and urgent request.

Two days ago, an 18-year-old was shot and killed on Genesee Street across from Joseph C. Wilson Commencement Academy. Yesterday, police arrested another young man who is alleged to have been involved in the crime. Both are former students at District schools, who were later served by special instruction programs we offer for troubled youth.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all the families, friends and school communities affected by these tragic events. But that is not the only reason my heart is heavy. These are the latest in a series of violent events this year, in which the victims and alleged perpetrators were current or former Rochester students.

As I often say, the Rochester City School District is ultimately responsible for the education of your children. But we cannot do it alone. Since I have become Superintendent, the community has been overwhelmingly generous in providing the help our District requests. But that is not enough.

We urgently need more support from parents and families to address the problem of youth violence, inside and outside our schools. 

All of the school programs and support services our community offers can’t replace the need for active and committed parents, or other adults in a parenting role. We need you to:

•Teach children that violence is never acceptable as a means of settling conflict

•Know who their friends are, including the friends they communicate with online. It is both acceptable and necessary for parents to monitor their children’s use of social media

•Make sure that children attend school every day

•Require them to treat teachers and other adults with respect, as you expect them to treat you

•Encourage them to put forth their best effort in school, and to read every day

Children who do these things will succeed in school. I say that with absolute confidence because many of our students are already doing well. But too many are falling through the cracks, and falling prey to violence.

If you need help to make these things happen, ask for it. Our community is rich in resources to help families deal with any issue that keeps children from succeeding. Call 211, your child’s school, your minister or another trusted adult. I assure you that people will be there to help you and your children.

Our District will provide whatever resources are needed to be sure that school is the safest place for your children to be, every day. We will provide the academic instruction and extra support they need to achieve. But I cannot take total responsibility for their safety or academic success. We need your help—and they do, too.

Sincerely,

Bolgen Vargas

Superintendent of Schools



Rochester

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