Community leaders not happy with RCSD safety plan
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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — In recent weeks there has been a spike in reports of violent incidents at Rochester City Schools.
On Wednesday the RCSD and City of Rochester released a joint statement announcing that Rochester police officers would be stationed outside of all 11 secondary schools in the district during arrival and dismissal times. The statement said the police presence would last through the rest of this week and the first half of next week.
Union and city leaders responded to the safety plan on Thursday, and they’re not happy.
"If it’s necessary for the next few weeks, it’s necessary after the next few weeks as well,” said Rochester Teachers Association President Adam Urbanski.
Before the safety plan was released on Wednesday, Urbanski and other union leaders penned a letter to RCSD Superintendent Dr. Lesli Myers-Small and the Board of Education including 11 suggestions on how to improve safety in the district.
"What they’re responding is to one portion of the eleven, of one of the eleven proposals for a very limited period of time," Urbanski said. "We haven’t heard any other action that the district is taking other than inviting us to join them on some committees to talk about these issues and we don’t think that committees will resolve the problem, actions will resolve the problem."
The safety plan released Wednesday specifically mentioned partnering with the city’s Person In Crisis teams, Pathways to Peace program, and Office of Neighborhood Safety, however when News10NBC asked the city if we could speak with someone from one of these teams about their role in the safety plan, we did not get a response.
News10NBC’s Emily Putnam asked presumptive mayor-elect Malik Evans if he had any specific actions in mind for a school safety plan when he takes office.
"One of the things I want to know is I want the schools to identify the top students that are creating most of the havoc and we need to find an alternative situation for them that does not take place during the traditional school day,” Evans said.
Evans (who will take office as mayor in January) and Urbanski seem to be in agreement that a longer-term, more comprehensive plan for addressing safety in city schools will be needed.
"It’s important for people to understand schools are not immune from this violence,” Evans said. “This violence that we’re seeing in our schools is a symptom of what we’re seeing in our streets. So that’s why we need a whole community approach to tackle this. Right now we’re in triage mode, we need to try to stop the bleeding."
"They are putting Band-Aids on the situation. They’re not addressing the core needs to improve the situation," Urbanski said, "and the district should do a lot more than what they came up with yesterday."
Other solutions offered by Urbanski and union leaders include hiring more staff and creating more incentives for recruitment. Urbanski emphasized the need to look at factors that could be contributing to the rise in violence, such as a need for more social-emotional supports in schools.
"Providing more guidance counselors, more social workers, more school psychologists, more behavioral therapists," Urbanski said.
News10NBC visited Monroe High School on Thursday afternoon during dismissal time and can confirm that an RPD officer was present outside of the building. There did not appear to be any issues during dismissal time, and there were no reports of violence at RCSD schools on Thursday.