BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Officials at the Louisiana School for the Deaf are fighting back against rumors their programs would be merged or shut down, calling the whole thing a misunderstanding. Their explanation though, was not enough to calm outraged parents who stormed a public meeting to speak out for their kids Wednesday night.
Geneva Elkins was one of the concerned parents. Her 7-year-old attends the Louisiana School for the Deaf and the fear is several of the special services schools will merge or in some cases, disappear altogether.
“I mean, there’s just so many things that that school does for the kids to just make them feel wanted and at home,” said Elkins.
She says the school has been a god-send for her daughter and something she’s confident will equip her with a quality education and a provide a path to a successful future. It’s why she was horrified when she first heard rumors that programs within the school could be shifting and some blind and deaf students would be taking the same classes.
“One learns by Braille, one learns by ASL. When you mix them together, I mean, they’re not going to get everything that they need,” said Elkins.
Brandi Rose‘s son is deaf and attends the school as well. She tells us she cannot imagine why something like this may soon become reality, essentially robbing her child of his home away from home. “I’m afraid that you know if the situation was to change for him he would regress and not be as open,” said Rose.
Several parents brought those concerns to that listening session at the school Wednesday night, where frustrations bubbled over. Officials though say those fears have stemmed from somewhat of a misunderstanding.
Dr. Pat Cooper, interim superintendent for the district, says the system is working through a massive three-year strategic plan to rework some areas while making improvements in others.
“As hard as we might try to give you the information as plainly as we can, there’s always going to be places where we get tripped up,” said Cooper. “It doesn’t mean anything other than we’re going to have speech therapy or we’re going to have professional development or we might have specific programs that our kids might need to share.”
Some parents say they’re still not satisfied with those answers and others remain downright fed up with the progress as they left the meeting.
“If you don’t personally experience it and haven’t been properly trained, you don’t understand this,” said Karen Harris.
The group says they will continue to hold listening sessions as the plan develops.