Parents of deaf and blind children furious over lies they claim state told them
BATON ROUGE- Concerned parents of students at Louisiana Schools for the Deaf and the Visually Impaired (LSDVI) have been demanding answers from the state about plans to have non-deaf and non-blind students attend classes there.
The group of parents said the state has not been transparent and emails appear to show state and school leaders lying to them.
Karen Harris has a son who is blind and attends LSDVI. She began asking the state about their plans to bring in other schools and said emails she received through a public records request indicate the state knew more than what was being shared with parents.
Harris said she received information that students from Thrive Academy were coming to the new DREAM Academy, which the state proudly debuted last week. It is a hands-on career technical education program for those at the Louisiana School for the Deaf and Visually Impaired.
"They continue to make it sound like we are scared of the Thrive students," Harris said. "That's not our point. Our point is the state using our resources, our building, not to continue and further educate our children but to bring in other non-deaf or non-blind kids to be educated."
Karen Tantzen said she also has a son who is going blind. She asked specifically about what was going on, "On July 9, she (Meredith Jordan, a state administrator) told us to our faces she hadn't spoken to Thrive Academy which was the first school they were going to bring over..." Tantzen said.
An email the parents obtained through their records request dated in April shows the person they met with clearly knew what was happening.
"I need your help crafting the agreement for our partnership with Thrive..." part of the email reads.
It goes on to say, "All of the above has been approved by Meredith." Meredith just so happens to be the same woman who told parents in July that there was no plan to bring Thrive to LSDVI.
Jay Isch was born deaf and advocates for the deaf community.
"The bottom line is deaf children and hearing children are born with the same brain," Isch said through an interpreter. "They are not cognitively impaired. The system causes that."
Isch believes those at the state level need to be more forthcoming with information.
"To them, we are insignificant," Isch said. "They overlook us all the time. We are not loud enough. They are not sharing information with the parents and stakeholders. It's horrible."
A spokeswoman for the Department of Education issued the following statement:
"There is no agreement between Thrive Academy, the Louisiana School for the Deaf, and the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired. Thrive Academy students are not sharing any space or facilities on the LSDVI campus."