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Students protest Louisiana School for the Deaf’s closing

July 2nd, 2009 WildWolf No comments

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By Keitha Nelson – bio | email

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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.

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Plan to merge schools for deaf brings protest

July 2nd, 2009 WildWolf No comments
The Eastern N.C. School for the Deaf in Wilson serves about 100 hearing-impaired students.

The Eastern N.C. School for the Deaf in Wilson serves about 100 hearing-impaired students.

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Wilson, N.C. — Staff, parents and students of the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf on Friday protested a plan to merge the school onto a Raleigh campus.

State lawmakers have proposed slashing the Department of Health and Human Services budget by $1.4 billion next year to help erase a projected $4.5 billion shortfall. One suggested cut by DHHS officials would consolidate state schools for blind and deaf students, meaning the Wilson school and the North Carolina School for the Deaf in Morganton would close and students would be shifted to the Gov. Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh.

DHHS Secretary Lanier Cansler said the state spends $30 million a year to operate the three schools, which serve about 250 students combined.

“If we closed two and kept one, my staff have indicated we could save ultimately about $17 million a year,” Cansler said.

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“It’s not that they would no longer have a school to go to. It just may be in a different location, should this option be chosen by the legislature,” he said. “Most of the options are not things that we want to do, but (we’re) trying to figure out how to deal with the major cuts with the least amount of impact.”

Otis Hargrove, who had two daughters attend the Wilson school, said what’s best for the state budget isn’t necessarily what’s best for the children.

“The people up there making the decisions, they don’t have a clue what it takes to educate a hearing-impaired child,” Hargrove said.

Mary Miller, whose foster son, Billy, is among about 100 students on the Wilson campus, said the proposal sets the students up to fail.

“It’s not like you can just take them and put them in a public school and expect them to learn, because they can’t,” Miller said.

Her husband, James Miller, agreed that many of the students wouldn’t want to move to a new campus and would opt for public school. Those that made the move likely would be farther from home and would have to adapt to a new program, he said.

“I think it’s really sad when the state comes and picks on education and picks on the handicapped first,” he said.

Copyright 2009 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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School for Deaf closing (Pennsylvania – Fast Eddie)

July 2nd, 2009 WildWolf No comments

Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre PA) ^ | 2/5/09 | Bill O’Boyle

Posted on Thursday, February 05, 2009 9:15:52 AM by Born Conservative

Rendell administration contends services can be delivered by other governmental entities for less money.

SCRANTON – The state has notified the Scranton School for the Deaf that it will close as of July 1, board members said Wednesday.

Funding for the 129-year-old school was not included in the budget proposal announced Wednesday by Gov. Ed Rendell, who unveiled his $29 billion spending plan for 2009-10.

Marge Davison Matisko, chairwoman of the schools Board of Trustees, and Trustee Mahmoud Fahmy said the decision was announced late Tuesday night and meetings were held Wednesday with state officials, administrative staff and board members.

The enrollment is 91 students.

“I am angry; I feel betrayed,” Fahmy said.

State Senate Democratic Leader Robert Mellow of Peckville questioned the decision to shut down the school and vowed to fight the plan.

“The school is important to our children, who come from 53 different school districts – and important to Northeastern Pennsylvania’s community and economy,” Mellow said. “While I realize that difficult cuts will need to be made as part of the budget process, it makes no sense to close this school.”

Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo said the decision was made after great deliberation and with concern for the students and employees.

“We don’t believe that the state should be in the business of directly operating schools,” Ardo said. “We have had conversations with the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf as well as the Northeast Intermediate Unit 19 about providing services for these students. We believe that can be done in a much more cost-effective way.”

Mike Race, communications director for the state Department of Education, said meetings were held Wednesday with school staff to discuss the closure. Mike Walsh, deputy secretary for administration, and Beth Olanoff, policy director, were in Scranton Wednesday to deliver the news to school Superintendent, Monita Hara, according to Race.

Race said some some might enroll in the western Pennsylvania school.

“We realize these are students with special needs,” Race said. “We know they need special accommodations. We believe they can receive all they need in one of these other settings.”

The annual cost per student at the school is $80,000, Race said. The school has an $8 million annual budget and employs 77 full-time workers. It’s the only state-operated school in Pennsylvania and the majority of students reside in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The school operates on 10 acres in Scranton’s Green Ridge section.

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