Viewer Speaks up for the Deaf - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

11/30/06

Viewer Speaks up for the Deaf

Hope the story is not dead yet.   Steve Williams, Dr. Bounds assistant, met with staff and students to tell them that Dr. Mack Smith and Mrs. Hervey are on administrative leave indefinitely, and Mrs. Sandra Edwards, elementary principal, will now be in charge of both the H.S. and the elementary buildings at MSD.  She is very qualified.  She and Dr. Connie Schimmell developed the Fairview Reading Program for deaf students, which is being used in forty plus states. 

Dr. Rosie Pridgen, Supterintendent of Mississippi School for the Blind, will run both schools for a short time.  MDE will interview  staff and students at some point to find out who was involved with or knew about the protest and possibly suspend some teachers and/or students.  Everything is going to be investigated. 

Thank you, Bert, for doing the report.  MDE  would have made a change eventually, but probably not as soon.  MDE has been talking with the staff and students for the last three months, and they have been told that the situation was critical.  They have been working on a solution.  The students have been begging for some relief.    If not for the story, these changes would not have taken place! 

 There will probably be law suits and it will be called a racial issue, but MDE understands that it is not.  It is simply an issue of who is qualified to teach and who can communicate with deaf students and staff.  The road will undoubtedly be rough in the coming weeks, but Mrs. Edwards can pull things together and put MSD on the road to a bigger and better school able to recruit more deaf students.  There are only about 140 students in all now at MSD, and there are probably over 500 in the state.  Many are not being properly served because of the lack of qualified interpreters statewide.  Many deaf students all over Mississippi are sitting in special education classes, when they are in fact, just deaf. 

The word is out nationwide among the deaf community that this has happened, and there are blogs out there supporting MSD students.  One of them is deafread.com.  I hope ya'll are hearing from the public.  Public awareness and outrage about this ludicrous situation is what these kids need. This is the perfect platform to bring awareness to people about deaf education and the needs of deaf students. The sad news is that the best teachers of the deaf are actually at the state school for the deaf, but most deaf students attend public mainstream programs.  The future looks so bright with the attention given to what is needed to improve things at MSD.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for listening to the students and bringing about deaf awareness.  Audism must be stopped.

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