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Rochester school board approves Aquino response plan 

click to enlarge Rochester school district's central office - FILE PHOTO
  • Rochester school district's central office
[UPDATED 6:45 p.m. ] The Rochester school board approved a  plan this afternoon responding to the critical report by its state-appointed consultant, but not without objections from some board members.

In November Jaime Aquino, appointed as the district's Distinguished Educator to assess the district's problems, issued a stern report covering the district's entire operations, from governance to teaching. The district is required to submit its response to State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia by February 8, with a detailed plan on how it will correct the problems Aquino has noted.

In a 4 to 2 vote at a special meeting late this afternoon, the board approved a 110-page plan responding to Aquino's report. The plan includes detailed recommendations and actions addressing Aquino's report, with specific dates for completion.

Among the recommendations: training for board members on their role, responsibilities, and behavior, problems that Aquino had highlighted.

Board members Judith Davis and Natalie Sheppard voted against the plan, and Willa Powell, Cynthia Elliott, Liz Hallmark, and President Van White voted in favor.  Board member Beatriz LeBron was out of town and couldn't attend the meeting.

Sheppard  said she believes parts of the plan would need to be dealt with in collective bargaining with employee unions. And she said that not enough members of the community were involved in developing the plan. White said the collective bargaining concern was a legitimate concern.

Davis said that the plan doesn't properly address structural racism, and she criticized the district’s response to concerns about special education. Davis also said that the district's structural deficit will lead to “cuts of essential services.”

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