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Students protest at Rochester Prep over chemical concerns

Dec 5, 2017

Credit Spectrum News

Students at Rochester Prep didn't attend classes on Tuesday, but instead joined classmates and their parents to protest after chemical contamination has been found at their school.

The NYS DEC has told Monroe County that ground contamination near the school building, a former Bausch and Lomb facility, may have migrated across the street to a county leased building on St. Paul Street.

Karla Leng is a junior at Rochester Prep. She says they were protesting because the air at the school has high levels of Trichloroethylene (TCE) and the water is dirty.              

"I love my school, but I'm just hoping that we get transferred to another building.  I don't want anything to happen with our school. The school is a great school but the building is the main problem."

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren says the school district, City Hall, and administrators from Rochester Prep are all working on options for the students.

Credit Alex Crichton / WXXI News

Warren says they're looking to find them a new location, even if it's temporary.

"Parents are saying that their children are sick.  This is too much of an issue for us not to take this very seriously and I've called on each of those individuals that have children located in this particular building to do everything they can to get these children moved out and into a safe space,” Warren said.

The mayor also said that, "I know that the superintendent is working with her team, I have my team working on it, to look at if there's any city space that we have available, and I know that Rochester Prep is looking at options as well."

A spokesman for the Rochester City School District, which sub-leases the space on Martin Street to Rochester Prep, says state and local agencies have determined that building is safe for students and staff.

Carlos Garcia says a number of agencies, including the NYS DEC and Labor Department, and the state and county health departments were represented at the meeting in early November to talk about contamination at that site.

Garcia says even  though the officials said the building is not dangerous to the health of the students, the school district understands the parents’ concerns and they are still considering what additional steps they may take. 

“Looking at all of the options may include keeping the kids there, or moving them someplace else. Having said that we need to take a look at all of the options on the table and we will continue to do that until we come up with a strategy to deal with this in the best possible way.”

Monroe County says the safety and well-being of its employees is its top priority and will push the DEC to continue its cleanup efforts as quickly and as comprehensively as possible.