Official: Louisiana School for the Deaf Needs 'Major Change'

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Louisiana School for the Deaf, which is undergoing a review amid poor performance, needs an overhaul, a member of the state's top school board who's been tracking the assessment said Tuesday.

Kathy Edmonston, a member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education who helped initiate the review of the school, told the Advocate the board needs "to make some major changes there."

The Baton Rouge school serves deaf and hard-of-hearing students from around Louisiana.

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The state education board in October hired an outside contractor to review its operations, and the operations of the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired in Baton Rouge and the Louisiana Special Education Center in Alexandria.

The schools for the deaf and visually impaired are rated F in the state's grading system that looks at student performance.

The $155,000 study, financed with federal grants, was supposed to be completed by the end of 2017. The issue may come up when the education board meets on Jan. 23-24.

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Edmonston said she's attended five meetings about the school and the comments she's heard from parents and others suggest school administration is part of the problem. She also said another issue involves how school officials nurture non-hearing students at a young age.

The director of the Louisiana School for the Deaf did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

State Rep. Patricia Smith, a Baton Rouge Democrat who sits on the House Education Committee, said she also has heard concerns about the school's performance.

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"A couple of issues brought up by the folks that I have been working with from the deaf community feel like the kids are not getting a quality education at the school," Smith said.

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