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Rochester CSD officials: Trevyan Rowe's death prompted immediate changes

March 13, 2019 06:07 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) -- The Rochester City School District told News10NBC they didn't wait for the state's findings of a civil investigation into the death of Trevyan Rowe to take action. 

They say the death of the 14-year-old student, who went missing just over a year ago, prompted immediate changes and even more retooling at the beginning of this school year.

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"We know where the students are within 15 minutes after they get off the bus," said Chief of School Equity for the Rochester City School District, Dr. Idonia Owens. 

Owens says that is one of the most significant changes the school district made last April when it revamped its district-wide attendance policy. 

Owens and Betsy Hoffer, the associate director of attendance, talked with reporters about some of the key changes Tuesday. 

For example, teachers are now required to submit attendance within 15 minutes of school starting. If that doesn't happen, the teacher has to meet with the principal. In addition, robocalls for missing students go out one hour after school starts, keeping parents in the loop.

Hoffer says teachers are on board. 

"There's about 4,000 teachers in the district ant some of them are taking attendance eight times a day," said Hoffer. "And just last week, I had a report that there were 20 instances of teachers not taking attendance. Some of that was substitute attendance and something in the schedule that wouldn't allow the teacher and when we drilled down we see they actually submitted it."

The district has also hired 25 attendance assistants who will personally call any family missed by a robocall.

Each day the principal and the school chief get an attendance report. 

The district's goal is to know every child by face and by name through graduation.

Superintendent Daniel Lowengard issued the following response to the report: 

"The death of Trevyan Rowe continues to have a profound impact on all of us, and we will always keep him and his family in our thoughts and prayers. We have received the State Attorney General’s report and will be reviewing it thoroughly. We have already implemented a number of improved measures to ensure our student attendance and supervision procedures meet the highest standards. We continue to monitor and enhance safety protocols. The safety and well-being of our students continue to be our top priority."

Click here to read the state's 145-page report.

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Lynette Adams

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