By Bert Case
About 20 students at the Mississippi School For The Deaf, staged an unauthorized protest Tuesday. They are upset that some of their instructors are not fully proficient in sign language and have other issues. Dr. Hank Bounds, State Superintendent of Education, told WLBT news we were "totally out of line" trying to talk to the students on campus.
The Superintendent of the School for the Deaf, Dr. Delores Mack Smith, invited us into a conference room in the main building and told us if we were allowed to talk to students it would be there. Dr. Daphne Buckley, Asst. Superintendent for Special Schools, told us we couldn't talk to students because their personnel records did not have a statement from their parents that it was all right to talk to the media. We were never given an answer about whether she knew about the charges that teachers were not proficient at sign language.
The students finally came out and protested for a few minutes, then went back inside when they were told through WLBT's sign language interpreter that they would be in violation of the student handbook if they continued to protest.
Dr. Bounds said late Tuesday that there are indeed teachers at the school who are not proficient at signing, but he said the problem is limited to the School for the Deaf. He says the whole state is dealing with an overall shortage of certified teachers.