Deaf Kids Deserve to Thrive, Not Survive!

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Deaf Thrive started this petition to Santa Ana Unified School District

"SCHOOLS SHOULD BE A PLACE TO THRIVE, NOT SURVIVE"

Thank you for taking the time to support the deaf students in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) Program at Taft Elementary School in Santa Ana, California.  The DHH Program has about 120 deaf children.  

Please understand this is not an attack on Taft’s DHH program and its teachers and staff.  We are standing up to a system that has a pattern of questionable hiring practices that may be negatively impacting the deaf children at Taft.  

Many of the deaf children in the program do not have complete access to language and communication because not all DHH teachers, interpreters, and staff members at Taft are fluent in American Sign Language (ASL).  Taft recently had a principal who did not know sign language and was not trained/certified in Deaf Education. The school psychologist does not sign and there are no mental health counselors who sign. As you can see, this impacts not only their education but their mental health and overall well-being as well.  

All of these facts have a direct impact on the deaf child’s educational access as well as their basic rights as students. According to Assembly Bill 1836, deaf children not only have a right to a sufficient number of classmates who can sign with them but they also have a legal right to have professionals that are fluent in the language being used by the student. (Education Code 56000.5, Assembly Bill 1836.)

The following below outlines what has been done to reach out to the Santa Ana Unified School District:

June 11th: 

Members of the Deaf community and representatives from the California Educators of the Deaf (Cal-ED), the California Association of the Deaf (CAD), the Orange County Deaf Equal Access Foundation (OC DEAF), and the Roadrunner Trojan Alumni Association (RTAA) attended the Santa Ana Unified School District board meeting to express their concerns. 

June 27th:

A group of Taft deaf alumni, a Taft DHH Program founding parent, and a former Taft DHH teacher followed up with Juliana Sauvao, the Director of Special Education Services, Elementary Programs;  Valerie Amezcua, the Santa Ana Unified School District Board President; and Alfonso Jimenez, Ed.D., the Deputy Superintendent of Educational Services, to discuss their concerns about the Taft D/HH program, which needs a principal who is certified in Deaf Education, who is fluent in ASL, and who embraces and respects the cultural aspects and norms of the Deaf community.  The Santa Ana Unified School District and Board representatives said they appreciated the input, and that they would take the concerns discussed into consideration and make positive changes.  

June 28th:

The Santa Ana Unified School District reposted the DHH Principal position after having interviewed a qualified Deaf candidate with a California administrative credential and fluency in ASL. 

Parents, teachers and the Deaf community have met with Santa Ana Unified School District over the years.  SAUSD is not listening, and it continues to disregard best educational practices for Deaf children!  Over the years, the District has had the opportunity to make positive changes in the education of deaf and hard of hearing children in the Taft Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program.   

We are asking the Santa Ana Unified District to please consider our concerns and make the following positive changes so that the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program at Taft Elementary School will become a place where deaf children learn and thrive: 

1.  Hire a principal to oversee the DHH Program who is trained and/or certified in    Deaf  Education, is fluent in ASL, and has a strong cultural perspective of the Deaf. 
2.  Remove any discriminatory language from future DHH Program job descriptions and posts. 
3.  Make the hiring practices of all qualified applicants, including deaf applicants, transparent and accountable by getting Deaf representation with organizations that embrace American Sign Language and a positive deaf identity.
4.  Require all DHH Program certified and classified hires who have contact with deaf students, including the teachers, interpreters, mental health counselors, school psychologists, para-educators for ASL proficiency, using a formal type of assessment such as the American Sign Language Proficiency Interview (ASLPI).

* “We believe the term Deaf is an all-inclusive manner to reflect people who may identify as Deaf, deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, hard of hearing, or late-deafened.”

Please sign and share with everyone you know!  With much gratitude! #DeafKidsThrive

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