‘We need to come together’: RCSD holds community discussion, addresses violence uptick

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Members of the Rochester City School District (RCSD) and surrounding community gathered Saturday to discuss possible solutions to the upward surge in student violence.

In late October, a teacher at Franklin High School said she was sexually assaulted by a student while attempting to contain a school fight.

That’s one of many incidents reported in recent time.

At a public meeting held by district officials, the ‘Community Action Initiative’ began with messages of hope.

“I believe Rochester City School District can be number one in the world, that’s my faith,” RCSD board member Cynthia Elliott said.

Superintendent Lesli-Myers Small says it’s a battle she can’t solve alone.

“And that’s the bottom line, is to come together individually and collectively to help heal the hurt,” Myers-Small said.

Students in attendance went into break-out rooms following podium speeches to share ideas.

They were asked to anonymously write down issues they’ve noticed, and ideas for solutions on post-it notes. Each one will be read later by the superintendent and her team.

Possible solutions were also discussed at the podium, ranging from prayer groups, to even a dads-on-duty committee.

If you’re familiar with the phrase from this group of Louisiana dads gone viral — a similar idea is being discussed here in Rochester.

Dads monitoring the halls, offering their friendship and keeping kids out of trouble.

“You see fathers that didn’t wait to get clearance they came and they said you know what we want to be a difference,” another board member said.

The district and the teachers union have been going back and forth over the use of school resource officers in buildings (SRO’s).

The Rochester Teachers Union requested the district replace school resource officers in the buildings after the board recently voted to remove them. Myers-Small has declined.

In her comprehensive outline of actions steps, she highlights working on staff recruitment, utilizing safety and security mobile units, and working with social-emotional groups like Roc Restorative.

The union has since made claims this plan, doesn’t go far enough.

On Wednesday, district officials released a full comprehensive plan to address the violence issue.

RCSD has also provided data regarding suspensions and disciplinary actions this fall compared to past years.

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