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Rochester City Prep to relocate students amid air, water quality concerns

This building on Lake Avenue will be the future site for Rochester City Prep's classes (WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. – Rochester City Prep Charter School will be moving its classes to a new location. This comes amid concerns about the air and water quality in its current building.

The school will be moved to 1001 Lake Avenue, from its current location on Saint Paul Street.

The new building was once operated as the Nazareth Academy. Rochester Prep Charter students will share the space with students of the Exploration Charter School. Classes have been canceled for next week, and it is not yet clear if students will move into the new location this month. School representatives say they plan to completely transition students by January.

"We don't want to continue being here," said 11th grade student Karla Leng after clearing her locker and collecting her school work Thursday afternoon. "It's either go to school and get sick, or stay home and miss my education."

Thursday night, a meeting was held for parents and students to discuss the future of the school.

"As long as its safe," said parent Catherine Baity-Gunner. "Make sure that it's safe for all of the students."

"I just hope I don't have cancer," said 11th grade student Kwesi Rodgers.

A state environmental study found solvents in the groundwater at the location – a former industrial site - are leaching and, “may move into the overlying buildings and affect the indoor air.” Tuesday, a group of nearly 100 students and parents marched from Martin Street to Rochester City School District headquarters, voicing their concerns about the school remaining at that location.

"The remedial system that caused these disturbances have been shut down," said Public Health Specialist Justin Deming of the NYS Department of Public Health. "The indoor air monitoring system is continuing and the air levels are back to where they were before."

A spokesperson for the Rochester City School District told 13WHAM Tuesday that the DEC and other organizations said it was safe for students to be there. For that reason, 400 All City High School students are still asked to report to class. The school district told 13WHAM on Thursday that its working to relocate those students in the immediate future.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said she understood concerns related to the location and asked the school district to find a new location for its students.

In a statement released Thursday night, Uncommon Schools said, in part, “Rochester Prep is committed to the safety and security of its students and staff. We believe, based on all of the available environmental reports, and assurances from the District, the State Department of Environmental Conservation, as well as the Department of Health, that our current high school facility is safe to learn and work in every day. However, we are committed to making sure all of our community members feel safe and heard, and so we have decided to move our high school immediately to a new location.”

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