“As a parent of a deaf child, I stand with our deaf community. I stand against oralism (making deaf speak and lip read)”
Parents, Alumni and students held a rally at the Louisiana School for the Deaf on October 26 to voice their grievances with the termination of their principal and their overall dissatisfaction with the school.
The previous principle and director, Heather Laine, was removed from her position earlier this month. Some fear Laine’s dismissal and low enrollment numbers may mark a downturn for the school.
Brynn Thompson, a former teacher at the Louisiana School for the Deaf said, “I think the deaf community is very scared. They have seen this happen in other states where the numbers get so low that the state feels like why we are we spending “x” amount of money in our budget to keep the school open when there are only fifty kids? Our numbers at the deaf school have been consistently declining.”
Thompson claims enrollment has already dwindled from 125 to 80 in the last few years.
According to Thompson, the lawyer for the special school district and the acting Superintendent Katherine Granier watched the rally from the school’s guard post.
“They never approached. I never saw them away from that guard shack and when people tried to approach them, they were told to get off of the campus,” Thompson said.
People at the rally held up signs to protest for new leadership, keeping the school open and to protect deaf youth.
One parent, Jeri Pilk, and her two children attended the rally to stand for Laine and to advocate for the use of ASL.
Pilk claims, “She (Granier) has decided that the deaf school should be oral. Kids must talk and read lips.”
Parents like Pilk chose to send their children to the school to allow them access to their culture and their language.
“As a parent of a deaf child, I stand with our deaf community. I stand against oralism (making deaf speak and lip read),” Pilk said.
A day before the rally, Sen. Sharon Hewitt and Rep. Scott McKnight released a statement calling on the Louisiana Legislative Auditor to conduct a performance audit of the Special School Board and the Louisiana School for the Deaf.
The statement quotes McKnight, reading, “…I believe it is in the best interest of the students and the SSD administration that a performance audit be conducted to ensure that their policies and their execution of their policies are in accordance with the laws and are appropriate for the community they serve.”