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Rochester school district critics rally over special-education concerns

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Continuing their protest over special-education problems in the Rochester school district, parents, students, and community activists held a rally outside the district's administrative offices yesterday afternoon.

Activists protested outside of the Rochester school district's administration building over problems in special-education programs. - PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • Activists protested outside of the Rochester school district's administration building over problems in special-education programs.
Speakers called for more funding for special education services and for stronger accountability. The district has been cited by the state and by the Empire Justice Center for serious problems in its special-education program. And when State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia appointed an outside consultant to help the district tackle its numerous challenges, she pointed to the district's "failure to provide appropriate services to students with disabilities."

The death of 14-year-old Trevyan Rowe in mid-March added to the concerns; Rowe was enrolled in a special-education class at School 12.

He arrived at school the morning of his death, but instead of going to class, he left the school grounds, walked downtown, and either fell or jumped from the Douglass-Anthony bridge and drowned. Three teachers marked him present that day, and his disappearance wasn't noticed until he didn't arrive home after school that afternoon.

Elia and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman are conducting a civil investigation into the circumstances surrounding Trevyan's death. Their work will also include a review of the school district's operations.


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