Blind, deaf schools in jeopardy?

May 14, 2010 4:51:38 AM PDT
Parents of both blind and deaf children met with state legislators Thursday to plead their case and keep their schools open."They're discriminating against the deaf and the blind by cutting academic hours," said Michelle Moorem, parent of a blind student.

Moore drives her son, Michael, from Fayetteville to Raleigh every day so he can go to Moorehead School for the Blind.

She says she is concerned it may be turned into an outreach program instead of a full-time school.

"That means I will home school my own child," Moore said.

"We gave the Legislature, as part of this plan, four options to consider," Office of Education Services Director Dwight Pearson said.

Pearson is responsible for the state's special needs schools and for suggesting ways to save money.

His options include closing one or two of the schools and consolidating them into one program.

"I think the important thing here is there wasn't an option to discontinue the residential schools," Pearson said.

But parents and advocates say kids are already feeling the squeeze of budget cuts.

"Before the elementary, middle and high school kids were all in separate buildings," Rudy Croom with the Wilson School for the Deaf said. "Now, they're all together in one building."

Croom works at the Wilson School for the Deaf, where staffers were recently offered less pay in order to keep their jobs.

Pearson says there are fewer than 300 kids in the three residential special needs schools in the state. And part of the need for cuts is to make sure there's enough money to go around.

But advocates say those are the kids easiest to target.

"If you're not going to make, 'normal kids' do this, why are you making these kids," Advocate for the Blind Lusi Radford said.

The issue has all played out before, but advocates say this year is different, because the cuts suggested cuts run deeper than ever.

To see the options that are on the table, click here to view the full report

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