Rochester teacher’s union to consider more ‘collective actions’ to address school safety concerns
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Rochester Teacher’s Association, the union representing Rochester City School District teachers, will consider further "collective actions" as concerns over school and teacher safety grow.
RTA President Adam Urbanski wrote an open letter Sunday saying the union’s representative board will meet to weigh the next steps, as it has continued to express disappointment with the district’s response to several violent incidents reported at a number of RCSD buildings.
In his letter, Urbanski said the district " was in denial" and "disconnected" from reality.
On Saturday, the district, and Superintendent Dr.Lesli Myers-Small held an open forum with parents to discuss its recently released four-point safety plan, but both teachers, and parents expressed they were unimpressed. The forum was a part of Myers-Small’s Community Actions Initiative.
"For the last several weeks, we have been trying to get the District to enact measures that would reduce disruption and violence in our schools," Urbanski wrote. "In response, the District has lashed out against teachers and offered empty rhetoric instead of any real action or real leadership."
As we’ve reported on, teachers say they have been attacked, football games have been canceled because of threats. Most recently, at least five teachers were hurt in one incident at Franklin High School.
Representatives from the four RCSD unions, including the RTA, have said they are pushing for security resource officers along with increased School Safety Officers, or SSOs, which include counselors, social workers, and other support staff, is the best option.
Myers-Small has admitted there’s a violence problem within the district, but maintained students are not intentionally trying to hurt staff. She has maintained she wants to avoid bringing back the SROs, instead, she maintains seeking out additional SSOs,and involving community-based groups, like Fathers Initiating Restorative Engagement (F.I.R.E.) and the Urban League of Rochester.
Both organizations were present for Saturday’s forum.
The last couple of weeks, RCSD and the City of Rochester had Rochester Police officers stationed outside of all 11 secondary schools in the district during arrival and dismissal times. The district’s Board of Education will vote on a motion to keep the partnership intact on Tuesday.
"Disruptions happen in schools, and while they are not acceptable, the way in which we speak about our students has a lasting impact on them, our families, and this community," Myers-Small said in a letter to union reps last week.
However, in his Sunday letter, Urbanski said the district has shown a reluctance to adopt union recommendations because of funding. He accused state-appointed monitor Dr. Shelly Jallow and Chief Financial Carleen Pierce of not signing off on funding, though a specific amount was not provided in the letter.
Urbanski closed his letter out by teasing a teacher-specific survey to be released this week where people can confidentially submit their concerns.
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