Letters: Problems at special schools

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I recently read your article about the Louisiana Department of Education releasing a Request For Proposals for a review of three special education schools. While I do agree that this needs to be done, I am concerned about the approach for this RFP.

Members of the Deaf Education Alliance, the Louisiana Deaf Grassroots Movements, concerned parents and community agency representatives have been meeting with Superintendent John White, LDOE staff and BESE Board members over the past several months to share our concerns about deaf education. When White shared his idea of an RFP we were supportive but concerned

When White shared his idea of an RFP, we were supportive but concerned about the amount of time it would take to produce results. When a subsequent meeting revealed that his intention was to include all three board special schools in one RFP, we expressed our concerns in finding a qualified applicant for this RFP as well as our concerns with how the department would vet such applications. There seems to be a lack of regard within the Department of Education for the value of employing people who are specially trained to work with children with specific low-incidence disabilities — the type of students that the board special schools were specifically established to serve.

Without this knowledge and experience in these specialty fields, we are seeing that the schools are continuing to be labeled as failing schools. This lack of regard for expertise is evident, again, in the RFP. The Department of Education is expecting that it can garner one entity to pull together a team with expertise in all three areas. This is unlikely. I have forwarded the RFP to several university programs with the hope that at least one will be able to pull together teams while also trying to get ready for the start of their semester. As an advocate for the Deaf community and a retired employee from the Louisiana School for the Deaf and the Department of Education, I am concerned that there is an urgent need for reform at the School for the Deaf, and a need for guidance and resources for deaf educators. The RFP process does not address this urgency and by combining three schools under the RFP my fear is that the true needs of the students at LSD will not be sufficiently addressed at all. I have to wonder why nothing has been done to correct the failing school status over the past several years. Is it possible these administrators didn’t know there was a problem? Or do they just have no idea how to address the problems? While they are just now trying to figure this out, our students are missing out on real access to effective education. All of this has been happening over the past three years or more and the administration doesn’t seem to have even realized they should correct it. Sad.

Melodie Sparks

retired educational supervisor

Gonzales

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Closed door talks coming to discuss Louisiana Supt. of Education John White's job future...

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Letters: Problems at special schools

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Article Letters: Problems at special schools compiled by www.theadvocate.com