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NYSED Appoints Distinguished Educator to Rochester City School District

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New York State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has recently appointed Dr. Jaime Aquino as a Distinguished Educator to the Rochester City School District, effective Aug. 18.

“The Rochester City School District needs to address many deficiencies in instruction and student support that are barriers to student learning,” Commissioner Elia stated. “Working with Superintendent Deane-Williams and the district, Dr. Aquino will assess the district’s fiscal, operational and instructional operations and develop strategies for improvement.”

Aquino has worked in education for more than 30 years, starting his career as a bilingual teacher in Queens, as well as serving in leadership roles in school districts in Los Angeles, Denver and Hartford, CT.

He holds a B.S. in psychology from Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo, an M.S. in bilingual education, and a Ph.D. in curriculum and teaching from Fordham University.

NYSED cited the following academic issues in RCSD as the reason for Aquino’s appointment:

  • The district has the second lowest 4-year, 5-year, and 6-year graduation rates of any district in New York State that has more than 30 students in a cohort.
  • Last year, the district had the lowest combined English language arts and mathematics Performance Index in the state at the elementary and middle school level (grades 3-8). At the high school level, only one district performed at a lower level than Rochester on the combined ELA and math Performance Index.
  • Rochester CSD has the highest percentage of schools identified as Priority (54 percent) of any district in the state.
  • The district is one of only five in the state in which 20 percent or more of schools have been placed in Receivership, and one of only three school districts in which a school in Receivership has failed to make Demonstrable Improvement.
  • Rochester CSD is currently classified as a District in Need of Intervention under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) and is required to implement a Corrective Action Plan because of its failure to provide appropriate services to students with disabilities.
  • Issues have been identified with regard to the provision of services to English language learners, and the department expects to shortly issue a Corrective Action Plan as a result of a monitoring visit to the district.

According to the state, as specified by education law, Aquino will be considered a consultant to the district, and his services will be paid for by the district.

Officials said his responsibilities will include “conducting an intensive review of district systems, structures and operations with the goal of helping the district to fully and effectively implement its improvement plans for Priority Schools and Focus Schools and developing an action plan to support district improvement. …He will also serve as an ex-officio, non-voting member of the board of education.”

During the first 45 days of Aquino’s appointment, he’ll work with the district to develop an action plan outlining the goals and objectives for the ensuing school year, which he will then submit to Elia for approval, and subsequently submit quarterly reports thereafter.

Aquino is the second DE the state has appointed to RCSD, after NYSED previously rescinded Dr. Kenneth Eastwood’s appointment, due to an inability to come to an agreement regarding the terms of his contract.

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