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Fights: Vargas's latest challenge


The last few weeks have seen Rochester schools Superintendent Bolgen Vargas dealing with one troubling incident after another.

First, there was the vote of no confidence against him by the Association of Supervisors and Administrators, the union that represents school administrators.

That was followed by an envelope sent to the Democrat and Chronicle containing personal information about school board President Van White in an attempt to discredit him.

Though Patricia Malgieri, Vargas's chief of staff, says that neither she nor her husband know anything about the envelope, her husband's name was used to access the county clerk's website.

And last week, a report commissioned by the school district gave a troubling assessment of the district's career and technical education programs – many of which are housed on the Edison campus. The report says that many of the programs have low participation and fail to prepare students for careers.

Taken together, the incidents reinforce concerns about the management of city schools. But things got even worse.

Fights broke out last week on the Frederick Douglass campus. Police officers had to use pepper spray to quell the melee inside and outside the schools, which they say involved as many as 50 students.

School officials held a meeting with school staff on Friday to come up with a plan to greatly reduce student violence, says school board president Van White. Everyone agreed that providing staff in most schools with specialized training for responding to youth violence and developing a credible suspension program are urgent priorities, he says.