Trevyan Rowe, 14, later was found dead in the Genesee River
Rochester City School District leaders addressed the disappearance and death of Trevyan Rowe during a news conference on Tuesday evening.
“We made a mistake,” said Rochester School Board President Van White. “A grievous mistake. An unalterable mistake.”
“We are here for one reason and one reason only: to take responsibility for this young man’s passing,” he added. “We are sorry.”
During the news conference, school leaders admitted that at least three teachers marked Rowe present in class, when he was in fact absent. White added that the district has reason to believe that some staff members tried to alter attendance records after Rowe was reported missing.
The 14-year-old wandered away from school after getting off of his school bus on Thursday morning. Dive teams found Rowe’s body in the Genesee River on Sunday.
“The Rochester City School District failed young Trevyan,” White said.
“Our system failed us on two important points,” Rochester City School Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams said.
Deane-Williams said that staff did not see Rowe get off his school bus, or leave campus. She added that he was not classified as a student with autism, only a student with a learning disability. Deane-Williams said that staff did not know that Rowe was prone to wander away from school.
“It’s apparent that we were not as careful as we should have been,” Deane-Williams said. “There will be consequences for that.”
Deane-Williams said that several staff members had been placed on administrative leave.
The superintendent also said that she found flaws with the district’s robocall procedures. A robocall to parents is triggered after a student is marked absent in his or her first period class. The robocall is then made to parents at 11 a.m. Instead of a robocall, Deane-Williams said that she will ask the school board to hire attendance clerks to monitor absences in schools.
The New York State Department of Education will conduct an independent investigation into the school district’s action and response.