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Parent leaders raise concerns over Rochester school safety plan

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James Brown
/
WXXI

Rochester City School District’s school safety plan is open for comment, yet only two parents were present at a public hearing on Tuesday.

The 23-page document addresses reducing safety risks, gives guidance on responding to threats, and establishes a chain of command in case of emergencies. It was last updated in June.

It mentions state-mandated drills, and response plans for individual school buildings. It also highlights a handful of programs in schools that promote social-emotional health, restorative practices, and crisis prevention.

But at a public hearing on Tuesday, two parents raised concerns over a lack of clarity.

“This document fails to address the superintendent’s memo which mandated locked doors beyond the main entrance, and doesn't address the potential of having large doors for every entrance or exit, especially in a school district was such a high percentage of children with special needs,” said Rebecca Hetherington with the Parent Leadership Advisory Council.

Hetherington requested that the comment period be extended by one week so that Spanish-speaking families could have time to review a translated version of the document. The comment period is currently slated to end on August 13.

Accounting for students with disabilities in a crisis was also top of mind for parent Catherine Bauroth with the Special Education Parent Advisory Council.

“How can parents of children in special ed be assured that these plans are being updated, as these documents are mandated, to list those individuals with special needs?” Bauroth said. “This directly affects our children.”

Deputy Superintendent Carmine Peluso said the safety plan is in compliance with state requirements, and the approved plan will be hand delivered to the Rochester Police Department.

Noelle E. C. Evans is an education reporter/producer with a background in documentary filmmaking and education.