RCSD will sue city over referendum on takeover 

The Rochester School District plans to sue Mayor Lovely Warren and City Council to prevent a November referendum on a temporary state takeover of the school district.

At a meeting last night, the school board approved a resolution directing the school district's attorney to begin legal proceedings stopping what the district says is "an illegal advisory referendum." It filed the lawsuit this morning, and the city was subsequently served with the papers. Mayor Lovely Warren had just finished a meeting with Superintendent Terry Dade this morning and he was on his way out of her office when the server was coming in, Warren said during a press conference this morning.
click to enlarge During a press conference Friday, Mayor Lovely Warren said the city would fight a lawsuit from the Rochester School District, which is attempting to stop a November referendum on a temporary state takeover of the school district - PHOTO BY RENÉE HEININGER
  • PHOTO BY RENÉE HEININGER
  • During a press conference Friday, Mayor Lovely Warren said the city would fight a lawsuit from the Rochester School District, which is attempting to stop a November referendum on a temporary state takeover of the school district


The city will fight the lawsuit, and its attorneys are confident the referendum will be able to proceed, Warren said. And she scolded the district and the school board for filing the suit, claiming that they are suppressing parents' voices.

"What the school district has just shown is that they don't care what parents want," Warren said. "They don't even want to know."

The district and board are "obviously afraid of something," because they know that parents "are sick and tired of a broken system," Warren said.

In June, City Council approved the mayor's request for a November referendum on having the state temporarily assume control of the district, removing the school board for up to five years. The referendum would be non-binding – an expression of public sentiment – because only the state legislature can remove the school board.  And despite open dissatisfaction with the district by the mayor and local state regents during the spring, the legislature did not discuss a state takeover before this year's session ended June 19.

In late June, Rochester Assembly member David Gantt drafted legislation calling for a temporary takeover, but the legislature won't consider it until at least January, when the next session begins. And local Assembly member Harry Bronson has strongly opposed a takeover, as has the local teachers union and many local education activists.

The district is asking the court to make a decision before August 5 because it is the county Board of Elections last day for making changes to the ballot before they are printed.

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