'We need the storm': Mayor quotes Frederick Douglass after court bans school vote

August 02, 2019 07:05 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) -- The mayor lost a big one Friday. 

Her plan to have a referendum on a state takeover of city schools was permanently shot down by a court order. The same order says the taxpayer money the mayor and city used to publish and mail a letter regarding the referendum was misused. 


The DA's office tells News10NBC that it is looking into the money. When the mayor's office sent out a letter on July 12 regarding the referendum vote, the court order says it "smacked of prohibited advocacy" and says "taxpayer money should not have been spent" to do it.  
Court documents sourced a Democrat and Chronicle story which pinned the amount of money at $10,000. When News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke questioned the mayor on the letter one week ago, Mayor Lovely Warren said, "I didn't advocate, I educated."

Friday morning, News10NBC asked Rochester School Board President Van White if the mayor and city should re-pay the money. 

Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "You don't think the money spent on that mailer should be refunded?"

Van White: "Well you know, if you're asking me as a person, I can't speak for the whole board but no I don't."

White says yes to the main part of the court ruling. The court order says the mayor's plan to have a referendum on state control of city schools is "void." The court put a "permanent injunction" "barring the advisory referendum" from the ballot in November which means schools will be run by the elected school board. 

White: "It is a good day. This is good news. I don't want that to be missed. We don't hear that enough in our district."

Cynthia Elliott, vice president of the school board: "Whether we want to accept it or not, we have to thank the mayor for putting this light on this district and putting this light on the board of education so we can do this work that we have been called to do, by God I believe, to get the children of the City of Rochester educated."

In a video posted to the City of Rochester Facebook page, the mayor called the court order a "grave injustice."

Mayor Lovely Warren: "Today truly is a sad day because the people that profit from your poverty and suffering just showed you exactly who they care about."

The city appealed the court decision early Friday afternoon.

Van White says when he got on the school board in 2007, the on-time graduate rate was 39 percent. He says the four-year June graduation rate this year is 57.8 percent.

White says he expects the four-year August graduation rate will be around 60 percent. 


Berkeley Brean

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


We no longer have Facebook comments on this site. Please visit our Facebook Page to join the conversation.