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Distinguished Educator releases first quarterly report on the Rochester City School District

Emily Hunt
for WXXI News

The consultant appointed by the New York State Education Department to review operations in the Rochester City School District has released his first quarterly report.

The report by Distinguished Educator Jaime Aquino covers the period between November 2018 and January 2019. State officials say this is a status update on the district's activities for that period only, and does not reflect the district's response to the original report by Aquino, since that response was just submitted in February.

The quarterly report, according to the state, covers some of the same areas of concern identified in Aquino's findings that were released last November and outlines the district's progress in addressing those recommendations.

One of the items in the quarterly update notes that in Aquino's recommendations released last November, he found the city school district "is crippled by a culture of fear and intimidation," starting at the top with the school board and superintendent and spreading through all layers of the organization.  The quarterly report released Friday says, "there has not been any significant progress made in addressing this culture of fear."

The quarterly report also says the district has drafted a two-year plan to become a more inclusive school district, and that the district continues to make progress in tightening safety procedures. But Aquino says that "students continue to go missing from schools," with at least five incidents reported during the quarter he reviewed including students getting on the buses but not arriving at schools or homes, and walking out of schools.

Aquino also writes that district officials in December presented a report that gives options for eliminating the structural deficit. He says the district's initial plan provides a framework to address that deficit but the district must continue to provide more details about the options presented and their implications.

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Aquino notes that the city school district released an "action plan" in February to address the findings in his initial report. He says that if the proposed changes are to become sustained and meaningful, during the next six months, it is imperative for the district to engage key stakeholders' support and commitment for implementing that action plan.

NYSED Rochester Quarterly Report November to January 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.