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April 21, 2004

'Deafstock' bus will haul silent protesters

From: Twin Falls Times-News - Twin Falls,ID,USA - Apr 21, 2004

By Karin Kowalski
Times-News writer

GOODING -- The trip to Coeur d'Alene could take all night, but riders on the "Deafstock" bus are fueled by enthusiasm for Angel Ramos.

The superintendent of the Idaho School for the Deaf and the Blind has been on administrative leave since July 30, 2003. The state Board of Education is slated to decide his future Thursday morning at its meeting at North Idaho College.

Meanwhile, at least 27 of his supporters plan to stage "Deafstock" outside the meeting.

The Save Our Superintendent Committee's plan is to board a chartered bus in Twin Falls tonight, stop in Bliss and Boise for more passengers, and then head north. Ramos supporters will eat breakfast at Denny's and then go to the board meeting.

Plans for the rally are still taking shape, said Steven Stubbs via e-mail. He's co-chairman of the Idaho Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and a chairman of the SOS Committee. He said a silent protest might make the most impact.

"It is our hope that the Board would do the right thing, especially with us watching over their shoulders," Stubbs said.

The board meeting has been scheduled for Coeur d'Alene for months. But SOS Committee spokesman Rick Hartwell said via e-mail that he believes the remote location is helping the board avoid publicity. The bus trip is the committee's answer to that problem.

Controversy has ripped through the Gooding school since early last year, when the State Board of Education started receiving complaints about Ramos' management of the school. Criticisms included his hiring and supervisory practices as well as his financial management.

At the same time, however, Ramos is beloved by some students, parents and community members for his rapport with students and for being the school's first deaf and first Hispanic superintendent.

This board meeting comes at the end of more than a year of investigations at the school, a corrective action plan and a week-long hearing before Charles McDevitt, former chief justice of Idaho's Supreme Court. McDevitt recommended Ramos be reinstated. The state's attorneys asked him to reconsider, but McDevitt stuck to his non-binding recommendation.

The board might or might not make a decision Thursday.

"I am looking forward to the board's decision," Ramos said via e-mail. "It has been nine months of hell and I certainly do not want a 10th month."

Lawyers for Ramos and the state will address the board before it takes action. Keith Roark, one of Ramos' attorneys, said he will present a statement by conference call. The board refused to delay the hearing so he could attend in person, he said.

Luci Willits, the state board's spokeswoman, said the state's attorneys will also be present by telephone.

Roark said he expects Ramos to be reinstated, and there are no plans for what to do if he isn't.

Times-News writer Karin Kowalski can be reached at 733-0931, Ext. 231, or

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