National Association of the Deaf

NAD Action Alert: Preserve State Schools for the Deaf



The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is alarmed by a growing trend among some state governments seeking to cut costs by underfunding or closing state schools for the deaf across the country. These proposals by state government officials and legislators are often based on the following factors:

  1. drastically underestimating the financial costs of sending students to mainstream schools;
  2. lack of understanding of deaf and hard of hearing students’ needs;
  3. lack of understanding about required support services and resources for deaf and hard of hearing students such as teachers for the deaf and qualified interpreters;
  4. lack of understanding of the availability of such resources and support services for deaf and hard of hearing students at their local school district.

These proposals by state government officials and legislators do not comply with the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law that protects students who are deaf and hard of hearing. IDEA requires that every deaf and hard of hearing student receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). For more information click on the NAD Position Statement on Schools for the Deaf.

The NAD urges its members and supporters in states where schools for the deaf are threatened to contact their state legislators and Governors to advocate against closing or underfunding their state schools for the deaf. State legislators and Governors must be told that that such short term savings will not translate into long term savings and children who are deaf and hard of hearing will suffer tremendously as a result of the system’s failure to meet their educational needs.

The state schools currently known to be in jeopardy by facing drastic budget cuts or closure are:

  • Cleary School for the Deaf (NY)
  • Kansas School for the Deaf
  • Lexington School for the Deaf (NY)
  • Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf (NY)
  • New York School for the Deaf – Fanwood (NY)
  • Oklahoma School for the Deaf
  • Rochester School for the Deaf (NY)
  • St. Francis De Sales School for the Deaf (NY)
  • St. Joseph’s School for the Deaf (NY)
  • St. Mary’s School for the Deaf (NY)
  • Texas School for the Deaf

The known schools for the deaf that appeared to have survived threatened underfunding or closure are:

  • South Dakota School for the Deaf
  • Utah School for the Deaf

The NAD will attend the following rallies in support of state schools for the deaf:

Kansas School for the Deaf
March 2, 2011
10:00 am—1:00 pm
Kansas State Capitol Complex
SW corner of 9th and Harrison Street
Topeka, KS

Texas School for the Deaf
March 9, 2011
2:00 - 5:00 pm
South Steps of the State Capital
Austin, TX

New York Schools for the Deaf
March 10, 2011
10:00 am
The Well
State Capital Building
198 State Street
Albany, NY 12210
http://www.deafnyaction.org/?page_id=11

Preserving state schools for the deaf is the best option for deaf and hard of hearing children for the following reasons:

  • State schools for the deaf are a centralized resource of qualified teachers and staff with the necessary skills to be able to communicate effectively with deaf and hard of hearing children. The vast majority of school districts do not have any staff knowledgeable about educating, or communicating with deaf and hard of hearing children.
  • Closure of any state school for the deaf will force deaf and hard of hearing students to be served by their local school districts where they will be denied full access to the educational curriculum and to peers with whom they can communicate.  The lack of  direct access to the educational curriculum will set deaf and hard of hearing students way behind their hearing peers.
  • Closing a state school for the deaf is not a cost-saving measure. The cost to adequately serve each deaf and hard of hearing child in the child’s respective school district far exceeds the cost to send that child to a state school for the deaf.
  • Closing state schools for the deaf eliminates a continuum option that is federally mandated under the IDEA and that is often the only educational placement appropriate for many deaf and hard of hearing children in each state. Litigation against the school districts for failure to provide FAPE under the IDEA would wipe out any perceived savings.
  • Closure is not the only threat. Cuts in funding to state schools for the deaf require the schools to make severe cuts that compromise the educational needs of students.
  • Deaf and hard of hearing children need to be assessed by qualified educational staff with experience and training in specific assessment tools and techniques required for deaf and hard of hearing students as mandated by law.  Most school districts do not have staff qualified to assess deaf and hard of hearing students. .
  • School districts are already facing financial cutbacks yet are expected to provide the resources to serve deaf and hard of hearing students who would attend school in those districts. Such financial pressures will lead to inappropriate and lacking educational services to deaf and hard of hearing children.

Many state schools for the deaf were created in the early years of this country, and enjoy a long history of developing educated and productive deaf and hard of hearing citizens. State schools for the deaf are a smart financial investment for the state and required by law. Closure or underfunding of state schools for the deaf would not save states money but conversely would be extremely costly in the long run and significantly devastate education for deaf and hard of hearing children. This will also reverse the progress that deaf and hard of hearing children have made in the last 100 years.

Keep our state schools for the deaf open and fully funded!

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