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Education

Report: W.Va. Schools For Deaf, Blind Found Lacking In Student Care, Finances

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Cecelia Mason
/
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Department of Education last week released a report that found the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind to be in non-compliance in eight different areas.

Those areas included student care, instruction, special education, facilities, transportation, financial indicators and purchasing compliance, personnel and leadership.

“My staff and I are dedicated to supporting the WVSDB in addressing the deficiencies outlined in the report,” said State Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch in a news release. “We will begin with immediate concerns in the process of transforming the school to become a center for excellence in the education of West Virginia students who are deaf [and] hard of hearing or blind [and] low vision.”

The report found that students enrolled in the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind have not received adequate social-emotional support. Additionally, the report found that the schools need improvements in professional development, leadership infrastructure, documentation and family communication.

“The [West Virginia Board of Education] is committed to the process of restoring the vision and mission of the school so that it can best serve this important role,” said WVBOE President Miller Hall. “It is going to take some time; however, it is essential that we understand the magnitude of the issues in order to begin implementing the necessary measures.”

The Schools for the Deaf and the Blind declined to comment on the report and referred West Virginia Public Broadcasting to the WVDE.

The report was conducted by a team of 21 WVDE staff members. They reviewed 49 classrooms, conducted 29 instructional staff interviews, toured facilities and examined student files and financial records between April 27-29, 2021.

The Schools for the Deaf and the Blind are located in Romney, Hampshire County, and currently house 93 students and 24 teachers. Students live on-campus during the school year and range from kindergarten to 12th grades. The WVDE said typically, however, younger students do not participate in the residential program.

Consolidation of both schools is expected to begin this summer. The goal, according to a news release, is to provide students increased opportunities to interact with peers and have more efficient access to services. Plans also include increased community engagement.

On Monday, the WVDE announced the schools’ campus will now be open to residents of Romney and its surrounding communities this summer. More than 77 acres of open green space, a walking trail and a playground have been made available, according to a news release.

The WVDE said that normally the area is only open to authorized users during the summer months. However, the campus will be open to Hampshire County residents in an effort to provide an inclusive environment for the community.


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