top of page

Rosheada Davis: RCSD Will Not Silence Me

Rosheada Davis. Photo from RCSD Facebook Page

Almost every Black woman in America is familiar with the stereotype “the angry Black woman” or the practice of being “silenced.” The former is a racial trope in American society that portrays Black American women as inherently ill-mannered and ill-tempered, and the latter is a practice reminiscent of the centuries-long societal dynamic where power is wielded over the Black women’s ability to be heard and respected as equals; but both are systematic of an organizational dynamic known as institutional racism.

Rosheada Davis, an English Language Arts teacher at Franklin High School says she is a victim of these discriminatory labels and practices at RCSD. Just a year ago Davis was being heralded with multiple media reports about her educational pursuits and her journey to give back to her community.

In a press conference last week, Davis, a Franklin High School graduate who returned last year to teach at the school, outlined a narrative where she was confronted, labeled, ostracized, and suspended from her position at the Rochester City School District (RCSD), and was subsequently terminated from an RCSD partnering master’s degree program she was participating in at Nazareth College.

Although there were a series of events that led up to the suspension, Davis says the situation started at a staff meeting on March 3rd, where she voiced objection to an idea to transform Franklin Lower School into a ‘bi-literary school’ which means that all core subjects (ELA, Math, Science and Social Studies) will include one bilingual, Spanish-speaking teacher, and also one English language speaking teacher. Students will be taught material in both languages.

“The idea that was expressed is that this will help Hispanic students get better acclimated with English language studies, and therefore strengthen their academic achievement,” Davis reminisced. “Based on the fact that the majority of my students are not proficient in their native or first language, English—in many cases, the majority are not even near grade level relative to proficiency, as it relates to reading, writing, and speaking the English language. Therefore, the idea of attempting to provide instruction in a foreign language (Spanish) to predominantly Black teens, most of whom have no formal exposure to the Spanish Language, did not seem instructionally sound to me.”

Davis, 30, says when she raised an exception to the idea one teacher literally jumped up from his seat, and yelled "if you feel that way, you don't belong here." Several other teachers walked out of the meeting in protest.

According to Davis, the next few weeks would bring even more turmoil, but things culminated on March 28th when she pushed back at a colleague who she felt was condescending and disrespectful to her in front of a student. She put in a formal complaint and asked the Principal at Franklin for an “immediate mediation” but the next day she received notice that she was put on administrative leave and placed under investigation by RCSD.

Email exchanges between Davis and two other teachers confirm there was a conflict between Davis and another teacher, with a third teacher acting as mediator.

It is clear that these more experienced teachers, though colleagues of Davis, were also in a position to offer mentorship and guidance to Davis as part of her master’s degree curriculum. And in a series of back and forth where the other teachers noted Davis was “not meeting the field experience guidelines.” Davis pushed back, noting that her concerns were how she was being treated and being “spoken down to” by another colleague; ultimately writing “we can terminate the field work observation relationship. I don’t need to be in an unsafe bias rhetorical space.” The other teachers passed that information on to RCSD administration and to Nazareth College.

“It wasn’t that I was quitting my field work,” Davis said. “I didn’t feel safe, and I was just going to get my field work paper signed by someone else. But they (the other two teachers) took my words out of context and took this information and painted an unfair narrative to get me removed out of the (master’s) program.”

Minority Reporter reached out to RCSD for comment but received the following response from Marisol Ramos-Lopez, Chief of Communications & Intergovernmental Affairs. "As this is a personnel matter, the RCSD has no comment to provide on Ms. Davis.”

A letter from Nazareth College notes that the school made “multiple attempts to schedule a meeting” with Davis but Davis says she was not comfortable meeting with them alone and the school would not agree to have her bring community activists Howard Eagle and Minister Clifford Florence to the meeting.

Davis says since the March 3rd incident she has had several meetings with RCSD representatives but has yet to get a resolution to the situation or be reinstated although she was promised reinstatement by Christopher Miller, RCSD Chief of Human Capital.

Eagle and Florence are part of the Faith Community Alliance, a community advocacy group and a coalition supporting Davis. Florence said he accompanied Davis to several meetings at RCSD including meetings with Miller where Miller noted Davis would be reinstated.

“We’re seeing institutional and structural racism at its best, unkept promises to resolve this matter. We could have been reporting a different outcome… Christopher Miller made promises he did not keep,” Florence said.

“All I want to do is teach and make a positive contribution to society,” Davis said. “All of that has been put on hold. My whole future is on hold... Why am I being punished for having my own worldview or for speaking and sharing my thoughts and opinions?”

Top Stories

bottom of page