RCSD parents voice concerns surrounding superintendent’s departure

October 20, 2018 06:13 PM

Parents of Rochester City School District school kids say the school system has been derailed again just as it seemed to be on the right track. They came together Saturday frustrated at the news that Superintendent Barbara Deane Williams is retiring.

The community forum at School 53 had already been planned prior to the Deane-Williams announcement, but of course the topic was discussed in the meeting.

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Elizabeth Estevez has two students in the district. She says Deane-Williams' departure was a shock.

"As a parent, I thought we were moving in the right direction," Estevez said. "Ms. Barbara Deane-Williams, I felt she was doing a great job, I felt she was hearing parents."

Since taking the position back in 2016, Deane-Williams has lead the district's digital transformation plan. She says she has worked to hire more reading teachers, school counselors, and social workers. 

Estevez say the new leader will have to become familiar with parents, students and the problems the district faces.

"With her leaving we need to hire a new one, train a new one, that's money that will be spent money that we don't have as a district," Estevez said.

This year the district faces a $65 million dollar budget gap, but Ericka Simmons, vice-chair of the parent advisory council says it's also about more than the money.

"The relationship between parents and the district and parents and the board is not good right now," Simmons said.

Simmons has two kids in the district. She's been through three superintendents and her daughter is only in seventh grade. Simmons says despite leadership changes, parents are still there. She hopes throughout the process of replacing Deane-Williams the board will remember that.

"I think we need to start realizing that the most consistent people in this district are the parents," Simmons said.

"The things that hasn't changed is the effectiveness of the parents and parents wanting to be a part of real engagement with the district," Simmons said. "It's just the district allowing us to do so."

The Board of Education will appoint an interim superintendent while the search for a permanent replacement happens. In terms of the process to find a replacement, board officials have a difference of opinion in whether the process should be open or closed to the public.

The process will be discussed further in the coming months.


Kaci Jones

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