An Emotional Lesson on School Safety, Rochester Teachers Voice Safety Concerns

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The Rochester Teacher Association estimates assaults on teachers are up 150 percent in the past year, and one by one, teachers at Edison Technical High School stood in front of the Rochester City School District board on Thursday night to voice concerns about their safety, as well as the safety of their students.

“Please, school board members, make my school safe," pleaded one teacher. "I’m terrified to come to my building. I don’t want to be assaulted.”

Some teachers stood before the board with tears in their eyes.

“I’m scared that some of my students at Edison may hit me, might hurt me, might hurt some of my other children. Who wants to go to school in an environment like that? Who wants to go to work in an environment like that?” she asked.

While some teachers and staff members are fearful of being assaulted by students, it was a reality for some.

“I was one of the staff members assaulted. I still occasionally have headaches from the concussion I received when I was pushed into a brick wall,” described one staff member.

Longtime district teacher Dave Wurz said assaults are out of control.

“Forty-one teachers have been assaulted since September. The year before that it was 13.”

“One assault is too many. Many of our staff members do not feel safe and when that happens. You have to address it and we have already begun to address it.”

School Board President Van White said the district has already starting making provisions to address the concerns.

“I understand one singular event and how that victimizes an entire staff. This district is doing something about in advance to this meeting. Three additional school resource officers were put in that building, an AP, an assistant administrator that was put in that building with the focus of safety and security," White said.

Superintendent Bolgen Vargas said the district is shifting $80 million to address concerns in the classroom. He says school safety will also be addressed, including the underlying issues.

“There will be more social workers, for example," Vargas said. "When I came, there was not a social worker for every school. Some of our school needs three or four social workers. “

Vargas said safety isn’t just a school problem, but a community issue.

Meanwhile, educators want more action and less talk.

“We’re calling on you to provide schools with whatever is necessary to decrease the violence before tragedy occurs,” said an Edison Tech teacher.

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