Frustrated Michigan School for the Deaf families get say in picking new leader

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FLINT (WJRT) (8/22/2019) - On their final day of the 2018-2019 school year, students protested with their parents outside the Michigan School for the Deaf.

In the months following, they've left meetings with the Michigan Department of Education frustrated.

"It's been a long summer," Mom Florlisa Fowler said.

Her 16-year-old daughter will be a sophomore when school starts up after Labor Day.

"Imagine going into a classroom and you speak English and the teacher speaks Italian and trying to learn from that teacher. The communication is completely off," she explained.

Fowler said the deaf community and supporters have created online advocacy groups to fight for a principal that knows American Sign Language at a high level.

To help in their search, the MDE is asking parents and students to fill out a survey. A spokesman for the Department said that information will be used in the interview process, which the public can sit in on.

After two rounds of interviews, the families can vote on who they believe is the right person for the job. The MDE said that info will help the interview committee make their final decision.

"I honestly think it would be a good idea to go recruit, especially at Gallaudet, that's the College for the Deaf," Fowler said.

"Definitely, you want someone that just reflects their language and their culture and I think that's a totally acceptable request," State Representative Matt Koleszar said.

With family in the deaf community, this is an important decision to him. He wrote a letter to the MDE expressing his support.

"When student speak, adults need to pay attention," he explained.

The MDE said the survey will be closed when there's a strong pool of applicants. Then, it could take a few months to make the final decision.

They believe the current interim principal is qualified to remain in the position for now.

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