ROCHESTER, New York – March 30, 2018
On Thursday, March 29, 2018, Commissioner Sheppard took the bold step of addressing the community and the board in an unprecedented move called taking a point of personal privilege. It should be noted that in the entire existence of the School Board, no commissioner has ever taken a point of personal privilege.
During this passionate speech she spoke to both her fellow commissioners and the community at large. Commissioner Sheppard started out by quoting the late, great Fannie Lou Hamer (1917 – 1977): “When I liberate myself, I liberate others. If you don’t speak out ain’t nobody going to speak out for you.” And with that, she continued to elaborate on the frustrations with many of the backroom talks that did not coincide with public talks and actions. Commissioner Sheppard demanded the board to stand in its authority and “stand firm in their role above any political gain” and that the staff of the RCSD respect the authority of the board.
She addressed the “elephant in the room” with the New York State Department of Education appointment of Kenneth Eastwood as “Distinguished Educator” and ex officio board member by State Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. But most importantly, Commissioner Sheppard rallied the community to come together and use its collective power for the betterment of the students within the community. Her message was a rallying call for unity between the RCSD, RCSD School Board, and the community of Rochester because at the end of the day, it’s the students of the Rochester City School District that matter most.
Thanks to Justin Murphy from the Rochester D&C for the camera footage