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Rochester City School District invites community to discuss finding solution to recent school violence



Rochester, New York — The Rochester City School District invited the community to Franklin High School on Saturday for a discussion to find a solution, following several violent events at schools in the city.

Dr. Lesli Myers-Small expressed concerns about how kids in the district were being characterized as violent.

“We know we have seen some challenging behavior, and that because of the pandemic,” Myers-Small said. “I feel very directly that our scholars are having some difficulty in some instances transitioning back to school. So we are seeing some challenging behavior. We also know that it is important to capitalize on the expertise in our community.”

According to Dr. Seanelle Hawkins of the Urban League of Rochester, she is excited that this discussion will be the first step into reducing violence at schools in the city.

“We recognize that our community is hurt,” Hawkins said. “We need healing so hearing from individuals today, hearing their ideas, validates that their roles in this community is critical to our success.”

RCSD parent Rachel Crawford believes having a Rochester Police Department representative join Saturday’s discussion sends the wrong message.

“I think that’s exactly what a lot of parent and action groups are working against, to get the police out of our districts and get mental health counselors and resources and opportunities to these kids,” Crawford said. “Punitive measures aren’t working. Police officers aren’t restorative. They are antithetical to those things.”

Community members had the opportunity to join one of four groups including Students in Action, Parents in Action, Father Initiating Restorative Engagement, and Social, Emotional, Mental Health & Well-being for Students, Families, and Staff.

“The focus on the dads group, working with parents and caregivers, students and social and emotional, so that’s really four key areas when you think about wrap-around services and supporting our students,” Myers-Small said. “We feel very strongly that those four areas will really help us to move, to give us forward momentum.”

The school district plans to take notes from these conversations and move forward from there.