Deaf-school students threaten protest
The state Board of Education in July suspended Angel Ramos, claiming he failed to carry out a management plan.
However, the deaf administrator was apparently well-liked by the 100 students who attend school at the Gooding campus.
"We thank God we have a deaf person as superintendent for the deaf school," student Peter Forsman, 28, said.
"People will say, ´Wow, deaf people can do it.´ "
"We want Angel back because he always watched our games and we could communicate with him easily," 16-year-old Byron Jensen said through an interpreter.
The student protesters run the risk of lost credits or suspension themselves, but the school´s interment administrator, Harvey Lyter, said he would look at student actions on a case-by-case basis.
No actions have been taken yet.
The board suspended Ramos for what state Board Executive Director Gary Stivers said was failure to carry out a 34-point management improvement plan involving school procedures in finances, personnel and information technology.
Ramos denied the charge. He also rejected an offer of $14,000 and a neutral letter of recommendation in exchange for his resignation, and vowed to fight for his job.
Ramos has declined to speak publicly about his situation on the advice of his lawyer. He has asked for an administrative hearing, which would be a prelude to court action should he not be reinstated.
The state board, which indefinitely delayed plans to fire Ramos in mid-August, has said it will appoint a hearing officer to study the case and make a recommendation on its disposition. No timetable has been set.
Since the controversy began, Lyter said several teachers have quit, but the administration is actively recruiting replacements.
"In the three months I´ve been here, we´ve hired four or five people," Lyter said. "It´s an ongoing process."
But he admitted finding certified teachers fluent in sign language has been difficult, and that has been a point of disagreement at the school. Ramos required all teachers to be able to communicate with students in sign language.
Rick Hartwell, who retired last year from the school after 22 years, said some of the newest teachers cannot sign, and he argued that the dispute with Ramos is really about deaf self-determination.
"Will deaf people have the right to choose the kind of education and kind of teacher they need?" Hartwell asked. "Or will we always have to have caretakers who refuse to allow the professional deaf individual the right to be involved in the process of education?"
Besides the 100 students at the Gooding campus, about 650 more students are served in local school districts statewide through the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind´s seven outreach centers.
Edition Date: 10-23-2003
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