Eighty percent of Rochester teachers say they feel unsafe

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. The Rochester Teachers Association says 81 percent of its teachers don’t feel safe either while in school or when going in and/or coming out of school buildings.

The union recently surveyed its faculty reps and only 19 percent of respondents reported that the teachers they represent feel “very” or “somewhat” safe. The RTA isn’t the first union to express safety concerns. Those tasked with keeping schools safe, security officers, say the same thing.

“Schools cannot be an oasis of safety in a sea of lack-of-safety so, in a way schools won’t be very safe until the streets are safe,” says Adam Urbanski, the President of RTA. 

Take, for instance, what happened at School No. 52 last week. Twice, cars full of masked men were spotting pulling into the school parking lot, once with guns, before being chased away.

“So far, 74 percent of schools had incidents of either stolen cars, carjackings, or broken into cars,” Urbanski says.

RTA says it has communicated its concerns to the district but has not been happy with the response.

“We need better security,” Urbanski says, “whether that means fencing, gates, some electronic surveillance. But certainly for starters, we need a security person at every parking lot.”

That may be easier said than done. On Thursday, News10NBC showed video of a school safety officer being body slammed by a student at School of the Arts during a large fight.

“Who wants to put themselves in a situation like that, where their health and safety is at risk? Rhey have families of their own that they want to go home to,” says Dan DiClemente, President of BENTE. 

There are already more than a dozen openings for school safety officers and the union that represents them says more and more are leaving/

“We’ve had some members reprimanded for calling 911 on their own, so everything seems to have to cycle through the school as far as when they call 911,” DiClemente says. 

It’s an unacceptable request that neither union supports.

“We’ve always have had a very strong position that you don’t give up your rights as a citizen just because you walk into a school,” Urbanski add. “We tell teachers they have the right and the responsibility to call police and call 911 without permission from their supervisors.”

RCSD has not responded to questions about a 911 policy.  Last week, a spokeswoman for the district told News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke it takes safety concerns seriously and has adjusted the schedules of its current safety officers so they can escort staff members to and from their cars for the time-being.