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Controversy at School for the Deaf

From: KSFY - Sioux Falls,SD,USA - Mar 17, 2004

Does the South Dakota School for the Deaf need a change? Some parents are calling for the South Dakota Board of Regents to remove the current administration at the school. They say their kids aren't happy and there's a negative attitude toward students by the administration. But the officials who run the school are fighting back, saying they're doing the best they can and aren't doing anything wrong.

Wednesday afternoon, several parents of deaf children protested outside the school they say has a lot of problems. Jimmy Beldon has three deaf children at the school, "If we change the administration," he says, "and make the necessary accomplishments, then I think that the daily life of the school will be better."

The parents want the administration to go. They say their kids are oppressed by an administration that isn't doing anything about their concerns. Some kids say they aren't getting the education they deserve. Tyler Hatheway, an SDSD senior explains, "We want to see an improvement. There are a lot of kids who are very upset feeling that we're not respected."

But the administration is standing their ground. School superintendent Dr. Jon Green says, "We're a small state, and a small school, and we have limited resources. So we can't be everything to everybody, so we do the best we can to meet everybody's needs over a longer term. Would we change? If they've got other things they'd like to share with us, I'm always willing to change."

The Board of Regents is standing behind the school. Board Executive Director Tad Perry says, "The School for the Deaf is under very good leadership. The school is running better than it has in many a year, the academic program is stronger, the residential program is stronger, the facilities are better."

The Board of Regents says the claims the parents are making are unfounded, and that they have no concrete, documented proof. But the protesting parents are trying to make some noise so change can come. Another parent, Marvin Miller, says, "We will not give up until change is made; too much damage has been done."

The Board of Regents wants to meet with the protesting parents, but they've yet to contact them. The parents say they'll keep protesting outside the school until a change is made. But the Board of Regents says things will stay the way they are until they see some proof of wrongdoing.

By: Chris Studer

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