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May 7, 2004

Blind, deaf school hires two administrators

From: Twin Falls Times-News, ID - May 7, 2004

The Times-News

GOODING -- While the State Board of Education considers whether Angel Ramos should return as superintendent of the Idaho School for the Deaf and the Blind, the school's acting superintendent has made two key administrative hires.

State board spokeswoman Luci Willits announced Thursday that former ISDB teacher Janet Stout has been hired as principal, while a current teacher there, Gretchen Spooner, is the new director of curriculum and special education. Both will start work in July.

"We wanted to make sure these positions are filled, because they are critical to the daily operation of school," Willits said. "We want to make sure the school is moving forward, that there is stability at the school, and that we could attract the best candidates possible.

"These folks are amazing," she said. "They have the ability to do well in the school and come highly recommended."

Stout was most recently the assistant superintendent/principal at the Inland Island School District. According to a press release from the state board, Stout has more than 40 years of experience as a speech therapist, kindergarten teacher and special education teacher, principal, superintendent and professor. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Idaho and a master's degree from Ball State University.

She succeeds Lewis McLin, who has served as interim principal this school year.

"Jan has outstanding team-building skills as well as sign language ability," said Harv Lyter, acting superintendent for the ISDB campus, in the press release. "She is well known to many staff members as an innovator and problem solver who has exactly the right mix of skills that ISDB is looking for to create long-term stability within the campus environment."

Spooner teaches math at the school and holds a master's degree in deaf education.

"Gretchen has been instrumental in the recent curriculum development projects during this school year, has a daughter who is a recent ISDB graduate and also has excellent signing skills," Lyter said. "Gretchen has forged excellent working relationships with the rest of the staff and is a recognized leader and team organizer. We are most pleased to have someone so knowledgeable about ISDB's structure and philosophy of delivery of educational services ..."

Director of curriculum and special education is a new position at the school and takes the place of a second principal job that existed previously, Willits said.

Ramos, hired in 2001 as the first deaf superintendent at the Gooding school, has been on paid administrative leave since July 30, 2003, as a result of complaints about financial mismanagement and his management style. After receiving a recommendation from a hearing officer that Ramos be reinstated, the state board last month voted to delay a decision on his fate for up to eight weeks.

Though neither Stout nor Spooner is deaf, both have excellent sign language skills, Willits said.

The hiring of the two followed an eight-month search that involved a committee of teachers, staff members, administrators and a parent representative, Willits said.

As for why the new administrators were hired before resolution of Ramos' status, Willits said it was necessary to recruit quality candidates.

"People in education usually only search for jobs in the summer, so we had to move forward," she said. "If we were to wait, we might miss another hiring season. It was really important because to attract good candidates, we had to be able to hire them on a typical hiring schedule."

Ramos couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.

Copyright © 2004, Lee Publications Inc.