BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) – Protests instead of classes dominated Wednesday at the Louisiana School for the Deaf, following a move to temporarily close the school.
Louisiana Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek made the controversial decision calling for the shutdown following arrests amid allegations of indecent behavior and inappropriate relationships.
Right after school ended Wednesday at the school, students were supposed to hop on their buses and head home. Instead, with picket signs in hand, dozens of students crowded the gates of the school.
“Many of them went to mainstream schools first and failed or felt frustrated,” says former Principal Beth Forester. She says the campus is a haven for most of the students who decided to protest. State Superintendent Paul Pastorek says some changes have to be made before the doors re-open.
For years, serious problems have surfaced at the school, including a few allegations of sexual misconduct. “I know that there are problems and situations that have taken place. But I can guarantee you, these same kind of situations, even though I don’t condone or accept them, are happening in public school settings,” Forester says.
Meri Goldman came to LSD about two months ago. She says, like many of these kids, she tried going to a regular school. There, she was not heard, simply because no one took the time to really listen. “At first, I was afraid and I was feeling like it’s going to be a bad school or something. But, I feel like it’s great. I’m making a lot of friends here and I’m getting a good education.”
Pastorek did eventually meet with the protesting students Wednesday evening. Reportedly, he plans to re-open the school as soon as he feels it’s safe for the students. One thing he aims to do is add surveillance cameras to the campus.