State education commissioner rejects petition to remove Rochester school board leader

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The New York State Education Commissioner has denied a Rochester Board of Education member’s request to remove another member from office.

Willa Powell filed a motion in April to remove Beatriz LeBron from the board, citing “official misconduct.” She brought up the fact that LeBron refused to take racial bias training as an act of “willful disobedience.”

“I react to his behavior,” Powell said. “When her behavior stops disrupting the effectiveness of our board, she will stop being in the spotlight.”

Education Commissioner Betty Rosa denied Powell’s request, in part because the state comptroller overseeing the management of the Rochester City School District has not filed a violation complaint against LeBron.

“Defendant (LeBron) submits that although she did not complete racial bias training, she attended and conducted other training that provides sufficient racial bias instruction,” Rosa said in her denial.

The petition also mentioned cases that Powell said violated a code of ethics. However, Rosa noted that “many actions” described by Powell “took place more than 30 days before” the submitted petition and that Powell gave no “valid reason for his delay”.

LeBron called the petition a “waste of time” for the school board and the state Department of Education.

“What I didn’t really appreciate was that it took a lot of time for me, for the state, and it took away from what we’re here to do, which is to create a good system in which children can learn,” LeBron said. “I hope voters elect him next year, and I think 24 is more than enough to be in a failing school district and be part of the majority of the board in as a weight maker.”

Powell said if LeBron violates a directive in the future, a separate motion could be filed.

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