We need to yell

3 03 2009

Deaf school supports call for maintaining current state funding

By Vicky Wicks
For The Weekly News

Posted 3/2/09

Two advocates for deaf and hearing-impaired students met with concerned Rapid City people to pitch a plan for maintaining services currently provided by the South Dakota School for the Deaf in Sioux Falls.

Magnet schools are existing schools modified to add services for the deaf, Olsen said. If that approach isn’t taken, then deaf students will be scattered around the state in public schools not equipped to receive them.

Small schools will bear great expense hiring interpreters for just one or two students, and those students will be isolated if there are no other hearing impaired students, he said.

Olsen is pushing for the state Department of Education to take control of the School for the Deaf. Currently it’s under the aegis of the Board of Regents, which he said doesn’t understand that the deaf are bilingual ��” using ASL and English ��” as well as bicultural.

The Legislature should establish a commission on Education for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and a bill of rights for deaf children, Olsen said.

Puthoff said the school was established in 1880, nine years before South Dakota became a state.

The South Dakota Constitution provides for continuation and funding of a school for the deaf, Olsen said, and he doesn’t understand how the state can close the school without changing the Constitution.

“We need to wake up. We need to yell. We need to complain,” Olsen said.

Larry Puthoff, left, speaks about education for the deaf while Gary Olsen looks on. Puthoff and Olsen are advocates and lobbyists with the South Dakota Association for the Deaf

Larry Puthoff, left, speaks about education for the deaf while Gary Olsen looks on. Puthoff and Olsen are advocates and lobbyists with the South Dakota Association for the Deaf

The school is on Gov. Mike Rounds’ list of cuts to balance the state’s 2010 budget.

Using American Sign Language, with interpreters for those few people in the audience needing them, Gary Olsen and Larry Puthoff with the South Dakota Association for the Deaf said that if the school closes, magnet schools should be created in or near Sioux Falls, Rapid City, and Pierre.

The two men, both retired from careers in education, gave their presentation at Communication Services for the Deaf on Tuesday, Feb. 17.

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