ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) – The Rochester Chapter of the Puerto Rican Independence Party made their voices heard early Thursday morning in front of the Rochester City School District Office in opposition to the proposed teacher layoffs.
They held signs in both English and Spanish. Members made noise by banging pots and drums, a traditional way of protest in the caribbean island.
Members said many teachers who are facing layoffs, in efforts to close a $64M budget gap, were displaced after Hurricane Maria. Many of those teachers relocated to Rochester and founds jobs within RCSD.
“When kids came here after Hurricane Maria to look for a better opportunity and education, now the district is taking their teachers away. I know a few teachers, bilingual teachers that lost their job. Now our students are suffering again,” said Madeline Santana-Rosario, a protestor and a teacher in the district.
Protests said many Puerto Rican students enrolled in city schools, are helped immensely by those teachers who help them learn English and transition culturally.
“ They are in a position that you are a teacher who supports these students in their native language. Helping them transition to the 2nd language, cultural connexions that exist, the feeling of family that are built. It will be devastating for all students,” said Henry Prado, retired bilingual teacher of the RCSD.