Students, parents, and alumni protest at Michigan School for the Deaf
(06/13/19) - Communication. We use it every day: at work, at home, and for kids at school.
What if there was a language barrier that kept school leaders from communicating with your student?
The school is in the process of hiring an interim principal, but students, parents and alumni fear one will be hired that won't be able to speak to the students through sign language.
"We want to have a principal who is aware of deaf culture, have the ability to speak in American Sign Language," student Lucas Grimm said.
The students frustrated, over a lack of communication.
"Let us know what's going on. Let us know what's going on with the school and what is your plan for this fall and keep us in the loop. Make sure we're all on the same page. You're leaving us out. Why are you leaving us out of this? Don't leave us out. None of us know what's going on," a parent said.
Janis Weckstein, Assistant Director for the Michigan Department of Education, says the open position is not for a full-time principal. It's an interim position because their full-time position is not ready to post.
"Civil Service allows us the opportunity to post for a working out of class interim, a temporary position, to be able to come in and assist with some things. Once the posting is ready to go out, it will go out nationwide," Weckstein said.
Weckstein emphasizes that once the posting is ready, they will reach out and consider what the students and community want in their next school leader.
"We will get input from the Michigan School for the Deaf Alumni Association, from students, from parents. We'll work on putting a list together of different groups that we'll contact and say come talk to us," Weckstein said.
Of course, she understands the importance of transparency from staff to students when the full-time principal is hired.
"I hope that we will have somebody who meets the criteria, meets the eligibility, has the certifications that are required, and are also proficient in American Sign Language," Weckstein said.
The Michigan Department of Civil Rights says tonight, "Staffing the school for the deaf with individuals who are unable to communicate effectively with students is unacceptable."
They'll be reaching out to the Michigan Department of Education to also offer their support during this time.