Children’s Agenda calling for more resources for students amid increase in violent incidents

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — As Rochester schools see incidents of violence, children’s advocates are calling for the school system to push forward, and not turn back by bringing police back into schools.

Children’s Agenda Educational Policy Director Eamonn Scanlon said disturbances involving students frequently pick up this time of year and, after the disruption of COVID-19, Rochester schools should be doing more to ease kids back into class.

"We’ve all had a lot of stress in the past year and a half, under COVID," Scanlon said. "So this is completely to be expected."

Teacher Corinne Mundorff said she saw the situation first hand when she was physically and sexually assaulted at Franklin High School.

"And the student came around the security officer and punched me twice in the side of the head," Mundorff said. "And then chaos erupted."

Mundorff said Rochester Police pointed out the removal of school resource officers from schools last year but the Children’s Agenda says bringing them back won’t help and instead advocates for more spending on counselors and mental health training for staff.

"Doing a universal screening, see where the kids are after this year and a half when many of them have not even been in school, then coming up with concrete plans for every student," Scanlon said.

As schools still come back from the pandemic, the Children’s Agenda says it should take $40 million to $60 million over the next three to four years and spend it on a "culture shift" creating better connections with students and calming schools down that way.

"The best way to have good security is to build a good school climate to make sure your students’ needs are met," Scanlon said.

A statement from the Rochester City School District said, "We are working with the teacher to provide support as the student [involved in the incident] transitions back into the school building."

Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small said there has been an increase in violence in the schools but it’s important to look for long-term solutions.