Superintendent: Staff tried to alter attendance records for Trevyan Rowe

Trevyan RCSD presser.jpg
Rochester City School District superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams and Board of Education President Van White confirmed Tuesday afternoon that three adults marked Trevyan Rowe as present when he was actually absent. (WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - Rochester City School District superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams confirmed Tuesday afternoon that three adults marked Trevyan Rowe as present when he was actually absent.

The 14-year-old boy with autism was last seen Thursday morning after getting off the bus at School No. 12 in Rochester. Trevyan never went inside the school, however, and reported declared missing approximately 10 hours later.

After a massive three-day volunteer search effort to find Trevyan, divers with the Rochester Police SCUBA team recovered his body in the Genesee River near the Frederick Douglass-Susan B. Anthony bridge at Rt. 490.

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Deane-Williams admitted to several shortcomings with Trevyan, including that the district has reason to believe that some adults attempted to alter attendance records. Three staff members have been suspended and are currently on administrative leave as a result.

"We were simply not as careful as we should have been," Barbara Deane-Williams said.

On Thursday, March 8, five staff members were outside of School No. 12 when the buses arrived and students were getting off. Trevyan was the second-to-last student to get off of the bus and walked away without being seen. Video surveillance later showed him walking away from the school.

In addition, Trevyan was not classified in the school system as a student with autism. He was designated only as a student with a learning disability. Due to that lack of designation, a monitor was not assigned to escort him from the bus to the school. His Individualized Education Plan (IEP) placed him in a class with 15 students and one teacher. The special education teachers who worked with Trevyan all marked him as absent. The teachers who marked him as present were non-special education teachers.

Once a student is marked as absent in the first period, a robocall is sent out to a designated family member. There were 60 robocalls went out on March 8 for students who were not in attendance. Deane-Williams confirmed a robocall was not sent out to Trevyan's family about his absence. Even if Trevyan was marked as absent, she added, the call likely would have been too late to save his life. A call indicating a student as absent does not go out until 11 a.m. on the day of the absence.

Deane-Williams said she wants the district to take steps moving forward to approve hiring of attendance clerks for all schools so this does not happen again.

Rochester School Board of Education President Van White said they will continue to investigate the claims against the various staff members and the district. If they prove true, White said, "very serious consequences will befall them."

A separate news conference was held by the City of Rochester and the Rochester Police Department one hour before the district held its news conference. At the RPD-City news conference, Mayor Lovely Warren said they reached out to the district to hold one joint news conference on Tuesday, but the district declined.

Van White said it was his decision not to have the joint news conference because they were two separate massive entities.

"In addressing the deficiencies that caused this man's death, I thought it should be done separately," White said.