Myrna Gonzalez says she began battling the district 11 years ago when her daughter was 8. She says the fourth grader was taken to Strong Behavioral Health on a mental hygiene arrest.
“She spent all day long in the hospital by herself. Nobody from the school went with her. After they repeatedly tell her she’s was going to go to a kid’s jail because she don’t do the work,” Gonzalez said.
Her daughter, now 19, is a student at Monroe Community College. She says her daughter has autism.
“It’s not that she don’t do the work in school. She don’t know how to. She was in the fourth grade and didn’t know how to read or write,” said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez is now a parent advocate with the Bilingual Education Council, a group of parents who help others navigate through district red tape.
Parents say teachers should be trained to deal with certain behaviors. They also say the district needs a comprehensive plan to deal with children with behavioral and emotional problems.
The president of the Rochester City School Board says the board is aware the district is coming up short in this area.
“That’s why a couple of months ago we empaneled a special advisory panel to look at what we were doing or what we were not doing in special education,” says Van White. “That group has a charge to look at what we are doing or what we need to be doing in the area of special education.”
Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams says the new budget will help the district address the deficiencies. She says special education is one of the programs that had been cut from the budget for a number of years.
“If you look at our budget this year you will see we are fully committed to restoring the positions to full service in each of our zones and while we rebuild our programs, we want to make sure we speak to every parents who has a concern,” said Deane-Williams.