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State says Rochester School Board response to consultant's report is inadequate

State Education building in Albany
stock photo
State Education building in Albany

New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia says she has some concerns about the recent response from the Rochester City School Board to recommendations made by a state-appointed consultant.

In a letter to School Board President Van White, Elia said that she wanted to share “some general concerns with regard to the inadequacy of the District’s response.”

That response was filed with the state in early February, after the Distinguished Educator appointed by Elia, Jaime Aquino, issued a report containing 84 recommendations on how the city school district can improve its academic performance.

In her letter to the board president, Elia says that although the plan includes a reaction to each recommendation made by Aquino, it does not include “an overarching, coherent vision” for district improvement.

Elia’s two-page letter also says that among the areas she needs to see more detail are include:

-How RCSD will ensure special education students are getting appropriate resources, services and academic supports.

-Assess and monitor cultural responsiveness in curricula and lesson plans.

-Measure the effectiveness of professional development to prepare teachers to meet the needs for all learners.

Elia says that the district should begin to revisit its plan and once the state education department provides its full response, the city school district will be given six weeks to work with Aquino to revise and submit the plan.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren issued this statement late Friday afternoon:

"The Commissioner’s letter makes clear that she agrees the District’s initial response was insufficient. Now, we encourage all parties to come together and act with haste because our children cannot wait for meaningful change."

Warren and the advocacy organization ROC the Future last week called for structural change to improve the city school district's academic performance.

Rochester City School Board President Van White and Interim District Superintendent issued this response on Friday:

Rochester City School District Board President Van White and Superintendent Dan Lowengard have received Commissioner Elia’s response to the document submitted to her regarding the Distinguished Educator’s Report. The Board and the Administration will be carefully reviewing the letter, which was shared late this afternoon, and will continue to work to implement the suggestions contained therein.

We eagerly await the full response from Commissioner Elia in order to fully implement any suggestions she and her staff will have,” stated Superintendent Dan Lowengard.

President Van White added, “Like the Commissioner, the Board looks forward to working in partnership with her as well as with parents, staff, and with other community stakeholders in order implement solutions to the areas of concern she has identified. I remain confident that by working in this manner we can meet those challenges and produce the outcomes that are expected and demanded in this community.”

Here is the full letter sent Friday by NYS Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia to the RCSD:

Interim Response From NYSED to RCSD by WXXI News on Scribd

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.