The Rochester Teachers Association has asked the city school board to immediately place Interim Superintendent Daniel Lowengard in charge of the district instead of waiting until Superintendent Bolgen Vargas leaves on December 31.
A statement released by the union cites a lack of leadership at the district and dangerous conditions for teachers and students.
“The climate for teaching and learning is rapidly deteriorating during this period of transition and leadership vacuum at RCSD Central Office,” it reads. “Many RCSD schools are out of control and represent a dangerous environment for all, especially students.”
RTA President Adam Urbanski says that the number of assaults on teachers from the beginning of the school year to date is substantially higher than it has been in prior years, though the numbers have not yet been confirmed with the district’s central office.
“If teachers are not safe, it stands to reason that students aren’t either,” Urbanski said in a phone interview earlier today. “Parents should know.”
There is a sense of urgency involving problems at Edison Career and Technology High School, Urbanski said. And the RTA has similar concerns about Schools 3,7,8,16, and 28, he said, and he has shared this with the school board.
Urbanski said that the RTA’s concerns are not directed specifically at Vargas, but that the lame-duck period is having a negative impact.
He agreed that teachers are frustrated with a lack of progress on a new labor agreement, but said that is not the motive for the RTA statement.
“That is part of the problem," he said, "but the larger problem there seems to be nobody is in charge downtown."
Board President Van White said that he is aware of RTA’s concerns, but that moving Lowengard’s start date up is not likely.
White said that several board members and senior administrators met at Edison yesterday, and that he doesn’t want to address the problems there by plugging a hole.
“We have to look at the problems at Edison comprehensively,” White said. And he said that the board will meet with Vargas later this week to get an update on labor negotiations with RTA.
And he said that anyone, including the superintendent, in transition is still obligated to fulfill his or her duties while on the district’s payroll.