Thursday, March 25, 2010

Deaf education teacher let go from program

Deaf education teacher let go from program

Last week the teacher of the deaf program housed in Mount Anthony Union Middle School was dismissed from the school, leaving many questions in the minds of supervisory union administrators and parents of students in the program.

Kathy Buck, director of Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union special education services, said Ruthann Weaver was dismissed on March 18. Since deaf education services are contracted by MAU and provided by Austine School in Brattleboro, part of the Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, MAU does not control the program.

The Austine School administration has not made public the reason Weaver was removed, or told local supervisory union or school administration, Buck said.

"It's an unusual situation where the school district has a contract with Austine to provide these services to our school," she said.

Buck said she received a one-day notice of Weaver's dismissal but wasn't told about what the program would look like the rest of the year until she and parents of the four deaf students in the programs met with Austine representatives Tuesday afternoon. Buck said the meeting was productive and concluded with agreement that two teachers will rotate teaching the class for the remainder of the school year.

"Two parents are familiar with the teachers and they felt good about that as a resolution," Buck said after the meeting Tuesday.

While a solution has been found, Buck said there are still questions around the situation. She said she and the parents have asked why Weaver is no longer in the school but have been told it is "confidential."
"I think everybody was so surprised. I really can't imagine what was happening, but they felt that they had to make this change and it had to be done now and it couldn't have waited until the end of the year," Buck said. "The parents and students were very upset, but I think that now they're feeling good about the changes that Austine was offering to do and we're going to move forward."

A phone number for Weaver could not be found Tuesday.

Buck said the two other staff members, a translator and para-professional, who have been working with the children in the program all year will remain working with the students.

Brenda Seitz, director of special education for Austine School, said Tuesday she could not answer questions about the situation.

The only comment she made was "the program is still up and running with certified teachers."

Next year a deaf education program will not be offered at the middle school, as the four students in it, three eighth-graders and one seventh-grader, will be moved up to a new high school program that MAU will operate instead of contracting services through Austine, Buck said.

The plan to not contract services with Austine was made prior to Weaver's departure, Buck said.