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April 7, 2004

Deaf School Dilemma

From: KSFY - Sioux Falls,SD,USA - Apr 7, 2004

A group of parents whose children attend the South Dakota School for the Deaf say the administration is creating a hostile environment and has to go. The state's Board of Regents backs the schools leaders, but agreed to meet with disgruntled parents.

Last month protesters hit the streets to spread the word they are fed up with the way the school is being operated. Parents say seven teachers have left the school in the last year and several more are so upset with the conditions, they're also ready to leave. They claim the problems boil down to Superintendent Dr. Jon Green. Many of the same parents who took to the streets met face to face with three members of the Board of Regents Tuesday. The parents outlined problems, including the administration intimidating both students and staff, and not welcoming input from the deaf community. Parent Sherri Oster explained their concern, "When your administration becomes ineffective, as this one has here, there's no trust. Not with the staff and administration. There's no guidance."

Regents questioned the group about how many parents they really represent and assured them they would investigate to see how current staff turn-over rates compare to those of the previous administration. Regent Harvey Jewett added, "We have an advisory board and we do listen and we do make changes and we do pay attention to the constituents that we have."

The parents also asked the Regents to create an oversight committee between school administrators and the regents. They feel it would be more receptive to parents' input. But, the Regents explained they can't do that because it would violate the state's constitution.

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