Superintendent Dr. Bolgen Vargas and several district and community volunteers were out knocking on the doors of some of the 500 students who have yet to show up to school this year.
Add to that some discipline problems the Rochester City School District is dealing with downtown, and the school year is off to a busy start for administrators.
According to the RCSD, on any given day 3,000 of its 28,600 students will be absent from school. Vargas says they're not in school because of social issues, family issues and sometimes even health problems.
These are not just older children who have decided to stop school. Some of these children are in elementary school; even as young as kindergarten.
"I would hate to see what happened with Tyquan Rivera. This was a 12-year-old who hadn't been in school for two consecutive years and no one knew. Unfortunately, he ended up, as you know, in a tragic situation hurting a police officer and his family," said Vargas.
"The RCSD has the ultimate responsibility for educating our children, but we cannot do it alone."
"I hear people telling me that education is so important, education is the civil rights issue of the day. If education is the civil rights issue of the day, then we as adults collectively, social services organizations, the faith community, civic organizations, families, we have to behave as such. What that means is that if you have 500 students that are not coming to school here, today, Sept. 26, over 500 haven't showed up – what are we doing about it?"
Vargas says what's going on downtown is also a community issue. Police were called to break up fights around the Liberty Pole Monday; fights among teens, some of whom are Rochester City School students transferring buses. Wednesday, the district had school resource officers downtown, helping keep students safe.
In a statement released Wednesday, Mayor Tom Richards called on the District and RGRTA to come up with a new plan, saying "the current transportation arrangement is unacceptable and cannot continue. It is not safe for the children and disruptive for everyone else who is Downtown."
The district says it is working on a new plan that will address the 2,200 to 2,400 students who transfer buses downtown. Vargas says the plan will include reducing the number of students downtown and the time they can wait in between transfers. Leaders say they also plan to implement a system where they can track what students are doing.
"We will use a very effective ID system that we know when the child entered the bus and have some kind information that could help us work with them to make sure they behave, because ultimately, the problem is not transportation. The problem is the behavior of our children, and we need to make sure those who are behaving well, we don't do anything that adversely impacts their lives," Vargas said.
Vargas says many students work or play sports after school and they need the flexibility of those bus passes to get around.
We expect to learn the details of that plan by next week.