IM this article to a friend!

March 28, 2004

Ed Board investigates deaf, blind school walkout

From: - ID,USA - Mar 28, 2004

GOODING — A State Board of Education official is investigating whether any employees of the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind helped students organize a three-day walkout last October.

Harv Lyter, who serves as the board´s operations and performance officer and is acting superintendent of the school, sent an e-mail to school employees last week and asked students to give him any information about staff or faculty members planning or directing the protests.

About 25 students walked out of classes for three days in October to demand the reinstatement of Angel Ramos, the school´s superintendent. Ramos has been on paid administrative leave since July 30 after disagreements about his management style and accusations of possible financial mismanagement.

Lyter said he could not comment on the progress of the investigation. But he warned that if school employees assisted in the protest, they may have violated the Ethics in Government Act, and he would have the authority to discipline offenders. Rick Hartwell, spokesman for the Save Our Superintendent Committee, said the investigation is self-destructive.

“It pits employees against employees, students against teachers,” Hartwell said. “It perpetuates fear and intimidation among already fragile professional and educational relationships.”

Jack Van Valkenburgh, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, said the investigation could raise issues of employees´ freedom of speech and the right to due process. No one from the school has appealed to the ACLU for help, Van Valkenburgh said.

© 2004 Idaho Statesman