The Rochester City School Board is starting the year off with a bang. Newcomer Jacqueline Griffin and Commissioner James Patterson voted against the re-election of Cynthia Elliott and Beatriz LeBron and things got messy.
Nonetheless, the board made the decision to keep Cynthia Elliott as board president and Beatriz LeBron as vice president, despite the opposition from Griffin and Patterson. Griffin and Patterson were advocating for a change in leadership.
On Griffin's first day as a board member, Patterson nominated her for the position of school board president, emphasizing the importance of unity among the members. In her inauguration speech, Griffin stressed the need to work together and overcome division, recognizing that unity is crucial in navigating the challenges ahead. Patterson spoke at length about what qualities a qualified leader should have.
Despite the differing opinions, the majority of the board voted to re-elect Elliott as president and retain LeBron as vice president, with separate 5-2 votes. Griffin expressed disappointment but remained hopeful for future change.
During her acceptance speech, Elliott addressed Patterson's remarks by listing her qualifications and providing reasons why she is fit to be the board president. In her acceptance speech, LeBron criticized the inauthenticity of some members, specifically mentioning Patterson. LeBron made it clear that she does not tolerate such behavior and that it goes against her values..
“You can't call for unity and try to backstab people. You can't throw hands and then try to hide your hands,” Vice President Beatriz LeBron stated during her acceptance speech, as she pointed in the direction of Patterson. "I do not get down with inauthenticity, that's just not my style,” LeBron continued. “It doesn't gel and vibe with me.”
LeBron announced that this would be her final term on the board, indicating a potential shift in leadership in the future. Additionally, newly elected board member Isaiah Santiago, the youngest member at 19 years old, was unanimously chosen to lead the committee on community and intergovernmental relations. Griffin was appointed to lead the policy committee, taking over from Willa Powell, who did not seek re-election.
Commissioner Amy Maloy emphasized the importance of continuity, as the decisions made in the upcoming year will have a lasting impact on the district. Stability and consistency are necessary to ensure the best outcomes for the district's future.
The District reported that starting in September 2024, it will undergo a comprehensive reconfiguration that will align with the new grade structure (PreK-6, 7-8, 9-12) approved by the Board of Education in August 2022. The reconfiguration is preparing for a major facility modernization project. These decisions involve school closures, relocations, and significant building upgrades. As a result, maintaining continuity within the board is crucial.
According to the Rochester City School District Board of Education's website, the board is a seven-member board elected by the citizens of Rochester to direct and oversee the operations of the school district. Board Commissioners serve four-year terms. Cynthia Elliott, James Patterson, and Camille Simmons' terms expire in December 2025.