RCSD confirms changes made to attendance policies after Trevyan Rowe's death

(WHAM photo)

ROCHESTER, NY (WHAM) - Rochester City School District officials explained the changes school leaders are making following the death of Trevyan Rowe nearly three months ago.

Parents are welcoming the new protocols.

They include taking attendance 15 minutes following the start of each school day, again after first period in secondary schools and after the first hour in elementary schools, according to district leaders.

The district has stopped the internal investigation into Trevyan's death, because it doesn't want to interfere with the attorney general's ongoing investigation.

Nearly three months after Trevyan Rowe walked away from School 12 and three teachers failed to make him absent, RCSD is implementing changes and tightening procedures to account for every student left in their care.

"To be honest with you, they should have had them there in the first place for safety reasons," said Diane Sheffield.

She has grandchildren who attend schools in the district.

"When my granddaughter or great-grandson is dropped off, we are expecting they are safe," she said.

She said her priority is focuses on how school leaders communicate with parents. "The robocalls are not good. I really think there should be real-time calls," she added.

District leaders said they've hired 10 attendance assistants.

Their duties include making personal phone calls when a child is absent if the parent isn't reached by the district's morning attendance robocall.

"I should know what my kids is doing at all times," said Sheniece Griffin, who has a 7-year-old son.

Some district parents say a tragedy like Trevyan's death shouldn't be the cause behind change.

"I think they failed the poor boy and his family," Griffin added.

District officials said principals participated in extensive attendance training. They will pass the lessons they learned onto teachers and staff.

However, Jason Brown, the lawyer of Trevyan's mother, is cautious of the changes.

"I'm concerned these are going to be cosmetic changes," he said.

Brown said Trevyan's mom wants to see school leaders follow through with the changes they are promising.

"Some of these are logical steps in the right direction. Unfortunately, moving forward doesn't bring Trevyan back," Brown said.

District leaders said they are also working to update their attendance manual.

With the help of the attendance assistants, they will update family contact information for students.

Officials said they are now contacting an average of 1,000 families per day regarding attendance.

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