SWCC Education Committee Minutes for Wednesday Dec. 17, 2014 Meeting at the Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence

SW Common Council Education Committee

At Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence

929 South Plymouth Avenue

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Next Meeting: Wednesday, 1/21/2015, 6:30 p.m. at the Arnett Library, 310 Arnett Blvd.

The Meeting convened at 7:00 pm.


John Boutet            SW Common Council Education Committee Chair,

                               19WCA   Delegate, Member of 19WCA Schools Committee

Ana Casserly          AQE/MJ Education Committee, Spanish Community Rep

Brianna Casserly    AQE/MJ Education Committee, Spanish Community Rep

Eleanor Coleman   OACES & ProsperRochester, Inc. (Grandparent/School #10)

Jeremy Coleman    Uncle/School #10

Robin Dettman       Organization Development Consultant, on Board of Baobab

                                Cultural Center, works w/ JOSANA Safety Net for School 17

John Laing              19th Ward Schools Committee Chair, School #16 Volunteer

Jennifer Lenio         SW Libraries

Bill Nichthauser      19th Ward, School #22 Volunteer

Beverly Usher         School #44, 19WCA Delegate

School #44 Update - Beverly Usher  Video of presentation is at: http://youtu.be/NtGfIXlql4U

  • School 44 is slated for closing. Beverly is attending a lot of meetings to learn more about how to address the issue of school being closed; getting help from various groups, including AQE/MetroJustice Schools Committee.

  • Was originally told school would close next year (June); based Coffee and Conversation meeting yesterday, understanding changed to it being open next year and "phasing it out" by 2021. No new children will be brought in next year; already removed the Kindergarten class and 7 & 8.

  • PTO, Parent Liaison, Principal supporting keeping the school open

  • Principal and VP know the name of every child in the school; very rare; very hands-on staff.

  • Student performance and attendance has been improving.

  • One student ranked top in the City academically last year

  • Will attend the Board of Ed meeting tomorrow; looking for several pieces of information from school staff tomorrow to prepare for Board meeting: school's attendance report; how many children are from the neighborhood, how many are bused; what is the general level of academic achievement for the school; what is Spanish to English-speaking population; how many people who do not have children at the school but live in the neighborhood have been attending the meetings (community involvement)? Surrounding community is not being advised of closing of school process.

  • Vargas maintains that there was a miscommunication between Board of Ed, staff & parents. Why has that not been addressed?

  • Most parents do not want to take advantage of any Charter Schools; many have had bad experiences. Do not like the fact that students can be removed without trying to work out problems or academic and behavioral challenges. Charter Schools able to be selective in who they enroll; do not want children with "issues."

  • Mary Adams is providing information on the process of fighting the closing of School #44. They will speak briefly at Board meeting tomorrow night and then meet at Chili Diner at 11am on Jan. 3rd to brainstorm.

  • Suggestion: Encourage neighborhood children to come to School #44 for now and transfer them to School #16 when it is open.

  • School climate is very supportive and community-oriented.

  • Recommends having meetings at the library to raise community awareness for both School #44 or School #16.

  • Recommendation: Create a network of different people who use social media to alert the community. Libraries offer classes in how to use social media.

  • Annoyed that Vargas brought up the triple homicide across the street from #44, with lots of young people in attendance. What about the three dead bodies across from #17, or the stabbings, etc. at East High?

Reopening School #16

  • RCSD School #16 report recently given to us shows that it would take $20-28 million range to repair school but allowance for money that can be used in a 5yr period is ~1/2 of that amount. Doing it in stages is not good for students. It was noted that School #58's reconstruction broke every rule that has been presented for #16.

  • Construction will probably start in 2017. Need to organize parents now to push for having input. John Laing asking that parents be polled as to good times to meet. Perhaps daytime meetings would be helpful for parents.

  • Need to connect with Willie Robinson to reach out to parents, per Vargas' recommendation.

  • Have asked Willie for a link to the School #16 report online so we can distribute the information. John Laing pointed out we also need to get more hard copies of the report so we can have one at the 19WCA Office and at the Arnett Library.

  • We need to make parents in the 19th Ward area aware that School #16 is being reopened as a neighborhood schools.

  • As we connect with parents 1/2 mile for School #16, need to be sure it is around Post Ave, not Scio where #16 students currently attend.

  • On school web sites all teacher should be using their teacher web pages. Most teachers do not use this resource. This is important for keeping current students and parents informed. It is also very important because those pages are the public face of teachers in a school for parents searching for a school for their children. We need to to bringing this up within each school environment. New school will have fiber optics.

  • Difficult for many parents to take advantage of Parent Connect (limited English, forget password, no computer at home).

AQE/Metro Justice Education Committee Update – Ana & Brianna Casserly

  • Problem: IEP's are not being honored for Spanish-speaking and minority families. Some teachers not aware that the student has an IEP. Required State process. Violating the 5-day suspension policy for students with IEP's; sending child home for 5 days and then, when they come back, suspending them again.

  • School #22 - school not honoring law regarding homeless situations when parent is unable to get child to school (reported mother as unfit). Should not be reporting parent to social services if the issue is that they are homeless.

  • Last AQE meeting discussion was about proposing a new resolution in regards to writing up suspensions; take out "other disruptive behavior" category, which does not provide clarity as to what the problem is. Also appears in other places in the code so lawyers are saying it can't be removed in just that one place.

  • Trip to Albany on 1/12/15. Invitation extended for all to attend. Lobbying for education; what can be done to change the graduation rate. Rev. William Barber from NC will be coming up to support the education movement. http://www.revwilliambarber.com/ .

  • Ana showed letter from East High to parent regarding suspension that occurred 12/8, dated 12/9, which was received by parent today, 12/17.

  • New East High configuration is three "houses:" 6th, 7th, 8th grades; 9th grade; and 10th, 11th, 12th grades. This could impact our choices for grade configurations for #66 or #44. Do we do Pre-K to 6 of Pre-K to 5?

  • History of elementary/middle-school/high-school configurations in Rochester was discussed.

  • Need to explore the views of different principals regarding the middle school configurations and their judgments of them. Also, what do parents say?

The meeting adjourned at 8:34pm

Minutes submitted Eleanor Coleman

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