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Teachers fear student safety after shooting
by Rachel Glaser
Rochester, N.Y. -- Another shooting near a school sent teachers and their union representatives to the Board of Education to ask for help to protect their students.
The fatal-double shooting on Genesee Street Tuesday happened during class, right across the street from Early College High School and Wilson Foundation Academy. Located in the same building, the two schools house students from kindergarten to 12th grade.
"We have an ethical and moral obligation to do everything we can to keep our kids safe in school," said Mary Courtney. It's the same argument Courtney made in November but back before the Board of Education Thursday night, the teacher said the violence around the school become an even bigger problem.
"There have been three murders since then, literally in sight within our building," Courtney said.
Two men were shot, one killed on Genesee Street around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday--Courtney was in her classroom when she and her students heard the all too familiar sound of gunshots. Courtney said, "Thirty minutes later, without and lockdown or lockout being issues, our school dismissed."
1,100 students emptied out of the building--Courtney said the shooting scene was still unsecure and the gunman was still on the loose. "I watched out my third floor window in disbelief as out students left as RPD cruisers were arriving, lights flashing, to start running crime tape around the shooting scene."
The chemistry teacher said it's difficult for her to teach when her kids are too afraid to focus in class.
"Without a sense of safety and security all of the educational initiative in the world will work," said David Wurz, labor relations specialist for the Rochester's Teacher Association. "We owe it to our students and I'm asking for common sense to prevail here and tomorrow we need a SRO stationed at that school permanently."
For the third time this year Courtney went to the Board of Education to ask for a School Resource Officer to be stationed at the school. Courtney said RCSD has denied her requests because there is not enough violence inside the school to warrant a SRO.
"We do a good job and we keep our school in good condition and it almost feels like we're being punished," Courtney said, "It's frustrating because we're not being given that help that I think we really need."
This is a battle Courtney said she will not give up on--for her, it's a very personal fight. "I know the pain of losing some to violence in a school shooting because administrators made poor decision." Courtney's lost her niece sever years ago last week--killed by a gunman in the Virginia Tech school shooting.
"They thought, even without a shooter in custody that there was no danger to students on campus-- they were dead wrong and my niece paid the price with her life." Courtney said, "I find it astounding that here we are seven years later still making the same mistakes and putting students at risk."
A problem that can't be ignored any longer, Courtney said the district needs to act now and at the very least, station a SRO at her school.