In response to the Trevyan Rowe investigation Rochester families are outraged by the lack of support they feel the Rochester City School District has for children with special needs. Spectrum News reporter Breon Martin shares what some parents expect from the district, moving forward.
ROCHESTER N.Y. — Outside of the Rochester City School District Central Office, concerned parents and advocates gathered for a rally for their kids.
“These kids need more help than any other kids,” said parent Daisy Hospedales. She was one of many parents with complaints that the district is lacking support for special needs students.
Hospedales says her son was once taken to Rochester General Hospital after his school called 911, which she says was “because of his behavior, and instead of putting him in pediatric the ended up sending him to a mental room. We need more teachers, more support; we need them to help these kids.”
While standing next to her young daughter, both were prepared to stand with the other parents and students.
Hospedales says the district needs more counselors, special education teachers and policies that protect the students — all of the tools Retha Lee, a former special education student, says the district failed to give her.
“They didn’t teach me anything,“ said Lee.
She says her experience in special education classes from the 3rd to 10th grade in the district were demeaning.
“My teacher assistants did my work for me. As long as my work got in, they didn’t care if I learned anything and didn’t care if I showed up,” voiced Lee. “I had no one and eventually I dropped out of school.”
It has been nearly two months since the board of education impaneled a special advisory committee to look at the deficiency and challenges in special education. Board of Education President Van White says the committee includes members across the community to help bring fourth solutions.
“We think that the answers, which will come from parents and practitioners in our system, will probably be the best answers for our district,” said White.
Kisha Morgan, interim executive director of Specialized Services, says a lot of work needs to be done to improve the special education program, and the district is actively working to do so.
“I know we have students who have emotional needs and behavioral concerns and they need support, so we are looking to do that," Morgan said.
Moving forward, the district says they are actively working towards understanding the needs of each student and are prepared to offer the much needed support the district can provide.