WXXI AM News

RCSD board member worried that cuts could disproportionately affect minorities

Dec 11, 2019

Rochester Board of Education Commissioner Judith Davis said she has not made up her mind about the district’s plan to lay off more than 150 teachers mid-year, but she is concerned that minorities may take the brunt. 

State Education law says layoffs happen in the order of seniority, and she said in recent years, the district has heavily recruited black and Hispanic teachers. 

“The millions of dollars or however much we’re spending to recruit teachers of color are headed right out the door whenever the district gets into financial distress. They’re the first ones to go,” said Davis. 

Davis points to studies and books that say black students perform better when they have at least one black teacher in elementary school. 

“They recognize the competence, capability and success of their black students. Black teachers also have high expectations that they will complete high school and go on to college,” Davis said.

Several community groups like the Take It Down Planning Committee, Faith Community Alliance, Movement for Anti-Racist Ministry and Action Coalition have expressed similar concerns.

Superintendent Terry Dade said the bulk of the proposed cuts were elementary teachers because there are more of them in the district than other types of teachers. 

WXXI News asked the district for a demographic breakdown of the teachers who would be laid off, but district spokesperson Carlos Garcia says they have not released the information yet.

The Board of Education votes on the cuts on Dec. 19.