Monday, March 24, 2008

NY spends about $111 million for the deaf and

blind schools that are treated like private schools. St. Mary’s School for the Deaf in Buffalo is back in the news again today. Deaf and Hard of Hearing people around the nation will be watching to see "what the board does or doesn’t do". This school is unique because it is run like a private school, but state-funded like all other public schools in the state of New York. Like any public schools, St. Mary School for the Deaf receive state money and possibly federal money. This is where as quoted by the newspaper:
"Students are frustrated. Staff feels betrayed. Parents feel ignored".
One of the biggest issues is this: Board executive committee members have more authority and not listening to teachers, parents and students needs and making it more difficult for them to bring concerns to any of the board members. The State of New York spends about $111 million for the deaf and blind schools without much monitoring.

I wrote about this issue in March 19th blog titled
"Why should private schools (i.e. in New York) that gets federal funding keep their meetings secret?"
The board meetings are closed to anyone including parents, staff or students are allowed in. Board members are not even required to release minutes from its meetings or even to tell what was voted on. About 11 private nonprofit schools serving the blind and deaf in New York State are exempted from the state’s Freedom of Information Law. See this link for New York's :Freedom of Information Law (FOIL)

I believe that should be changed. I encouraged those who live in New York to write to their state representatives about this issue. New York State Senate and New York State Assembly


Deb Ann said...

Yes, it needs to change for better.

Karen Mayes said...


A friend of mine just told me that NYSDB got $10 million in funds (mostly for renovation of the buildings) for this year... and Indiana School for the Deaf got budget cut (2% cut... better than last year's 7% cut.) We could use $1 million for the academic resourses and for more teachers...

Brant said...

I assumed any Deaf/ Blind schools are supported by Department of Health and Human Services. Means they are under state and federal money. We need to change the system since it is 21st century with advanced technology. DHHS is a "old school" system with 19th century philosphy of education over deaf and blind children.

abc said...

If St Mary's receives ANY federal money (Title I dollars for low income families -- free lunch programs, etc), they are under exactly the same federal FOI laws as any other organization that receives Federal dollars!!! They cannot hold "closed" meetings without first giving a reason that the meeting is closed, and that usually means a discussion to talk about Human Resources or Personnel decisions before someone is hired. Otherwise their agenda must be posted IN ADVANCE and shared with the public. Any minutes that are written must also be made public (except information from a Closed portion of the meeting).

Talk to an attorney -- if they get Federal money, thats your (and my) tax dollars!

Karen Mayes said...

abc, it is usually the decision of the school board to have the "closed" meetings. If the parents wants to sit in the "closed" meetings, they'd have to be nominated and approved as parent representative from PTA, PTCO, or PSO, as I remember from Rochester School for the Deaf.

However, RSD is able to raise funds (half private, half state school) which is another reason for the closed meetings. Indiana School for the Deaf is all state school, so the board meetings are open. ISD is unable to raise funds except through PTCO.

Laurie said...

Isn't this the same state that won't let a young student bring his hearing dog to school? Something is wrong with this whole picture!