Mary’s track record on student discipline and school culture
Alarmed by large numbers of suspensions and on-campus arrests, Commissioner Adams has demonstrated her commitment to create a comprehensive, supportive and safe school climate within the Rochester City Schools. She has been a constant advocate for families experiencing bureaucratic challenges within the school climate.
She has been a strong proponent of transitioning exclusionary discipline approaches into more effective interventions and individualized responses. She has been a vocal leader for ensuring that police involvement in school related matters is not a substitution for a sound adolescent disciplinary response by building leaders. Commissioner Adams was very active in ensuring that the RPD School Resource Officer agreement did not provide overarching authority to police officers in schools.
Commissioner Adams was also instrumental in ensuring suspension data is available to provide monthly visibility to the Board. As Chairperson of the Board’s Audit Committee, Commissioner Adams continues to monitor district progress toward improving student behavior management, school climate and overall safety. Commissioner Adams recognizes that success will not be achieved unless there is “Buy in” for school climate improvement across all building personnel, training, a culture of trust, a desire to understand each student’s social-emotional needs and resources to meet those needs. Under her leadership, the Audit Committee continues to focus direct support through the Office of Auditor General, in addition to her personal community advocacy.
Transforming school climates and discipline practices are extremely challenging, and require authentic input from all involved to achieve meaningful and sustained improvements. Commissioner Adams represents the School Board on the Community Task Force on School Climate, and is deeply committed to ensuring effective uptake of the Task Force’s work in the district. She also serves as an invited representative on the State School Climate Improvement Team, responsible for developing guidance from the State of New York and interfacing with federal representatives at the Department of Justice and Department of Education.
The Community Task Force on School Climate holds real potential, initiated by the superintendent in 2014 with strong partnerships among a representative spectrum of individuals and organizations. The Advancement Project, a well- respected civil rights organization is supporting the work with legal expertise and community organizing experience, while the Rochester Area Community Foundation has generously taken on a supportive convening role.