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August 1, 2003

New leader named for state's deaf school

From: Seattle Post Intelligencer, WA - Aug 1, 2003

'I think the most important thing for me is to be very vigilant'


A special-education administrator from the Tacoma schools has been named superintendent of the Washington School for the Deaf, a state institution in Vancouver roiled by a sexual abuse scandal.

The appointment of Todd Reeves, 42, was announced yesterday by Gov. Gary Locke. Reeves succeeds Len Aron as full-time head of the 116-year-old school.

Aron resigned under pressure in January, after the school's board of trustees asked Locke to dismiss him.

Before then, Locke, who picked Aron for the post in 1998, had steadfastly defended him through more than two years of controversy generated by reports of dozens of rapes, molestation and sexual harassment at the school.

John Davis, a former superintendent of the Hockinson School District in Brush Prairie, has served as interim head of the school for the deaf since Aron's departure.

Reeves, who will be paid $94,000 a year in his new job, will take over Aug. 11.

"I think the most important thing for me is to be very vigilant," Reeves said, addressing the issue of restoring confidence in the school's ability to protect its students, who number about 100.

Reeves said he would work to carry through the recommendations of a safety panel appointed by Locke after an investigation by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2001 documented decades of unchecked sexual and physical abuse of students at the school.

Beyond that, he said, he plans "to simply ask more questions about student safety, and be aware," rather than merely react to problems after they come to light.

The trustees conducted the superintendent search that led to Reeves' appointment.

He has most recently worked as the director of special education for the Tacoma public schools, after serving as the assistant director.

Before Tacoma, he worked as program administrator for special education for the Peninsula School District and as education program supervisor for the Oregon School for the Deaf.

Reeves earned an undergraduate degree in communication disorders from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore., and a master's in deaf education from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. He also holds a law degree from the University of Washington.


The Seattle Post-Intelligencer identified dozens of child-rape victims at the Washington School for the Deaf and raised serious concerns about the school's continuing failure to protect students.

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