RCSD school safety is top of mind for many as students get ready for back to school

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The first day of school for Rochester City School District students is on Wednesday and school safety in the district is top of mind for many.

The district parted ways with Rochester Police and now has its own safety plan in place.

“I think that it’s important that the school safety officers they have at the district, they get the training and all the necessary equipment that they need in order to be successful,” said Rochester Mayor Malik Evans.

Last year, former superintendent Dr. Lesli Myers-Small said she did “not recommend” the return of school resource officers to the district after they saw an increase in violence.

“The school district did end the school resource officer contract with the city,” Evans said. “But, you know, I hope that they can train their school safety officers to be able to respond to any types of threat that they may get throughout the year.”

Instead, in 2020, the district decided to go with school safety officers—or SSOs—which include counselors, social workers, and other support staff.

“Well, the fact that they still don’t have enough personnel to fill all the vacancies could represent a safety issue because if you don’t have an adult for every child, then they are unsupervised and that’s when problems could spring up,” Rochester Teachers Association President Adam Urbanski said.

Urbanski said there needs to be some type of solution so every teacher, student and parent can feel like they are safe.

“A good standard for that is to ask yourself whether you’re a parent and any citizen in Rochester,” said Urbanski. “Aren’t there sometimes when you do want to see the police, when you do need the police so you don’t have to have a permanent presence of police, but you should have them at the appropriate times.”

Board of education commissioner Amy Maloy said this is an ongoing and important conversation and says RCSD has been able to fully staff school security officers district-wide.

In a statement, Maloy said in part: “Although I do not support having armed police officers in our schools, I believe we need to continue partnering with RPD outside of schools during critical transition times like arrivals and departures. These are community conversations with city officials and our district, and am looking forward to continuing these.”

The first day of school for the students is on Wednesday

Rochester Police tell News10NBC that while they are not contracted within the district, they will of course respond to any events if necessary.