ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — The district school board for Rochester City Schools wrapped up their first meeting Thursday night after a string of fights and violent attacks on teachers and students.
Discussions revolved around whether police should be put back inside schools.
A number of students and parents spoke during public comment acknowledging there is a violence problem inside schools, but many said letting police back into the school wasn’t a promising idea.
Superintendent Dr. Lesli Myers-Small responded suggested mental health programs and projects kids can turn to when the district launches them.
During her Superintendent report, Dr. Myers-Small said parents and students can expect to see modifications at several schools’ arrival and dismissal procedures.
She also said on Nov. 6th at Franklin High a community initiative is also being launched to have parents voluntarily come in to help struggling students.
“We will be collaborating with our board and dads or parents and students in our entire community for a panel discussion,” Dr. Leslie Myers Small explained. “And we’ll walk away from this meeting with action items.”
Some students who spoke out tonight would like to see Mental Health classes in the district’s curriculum. At the School of the Arts, where a 13-year-old student was attacked this week arriving at school, one senior explained why.
“This is a result of hurting young people who simply do not know how to deal with their hurt,” Isiah Santiago told the board. “But to temporarily satisfy it by hurting others and getting into negative things.”
Concerned parents and active community members echoed these needs by arguing any increase in security guards or Resource Officers returning to patrol RCSD campuses will not benefit students overall.
“Police in the schools will not lead to that healing so I’m calling on today to say please keep the police out of the schools,” Christopher Widmaier said. “And to keep things that will heal the students in the schools like Community Place and Center for Youth Services.”
Hoping to put those demands into action, Superintendent Myers-Small added elementary and secondary schools recently launched Roc restorative teams to focus on team building through social and emotional mental health workshops. And creating help zones at all campuses to allow students to meet with administrators for immediate help repairing broken relationships they have with others.
The district would not comment specifically on roles police would play in schools but the district is coordinating with RPD to assist all middle and high schools during arrival and dismissal while issuing safety and security mobile units to immediately respond to situations on campuses when called.