ROMNEY, W.Va. — State School Superintendent Clayton Burch says he’ll send an intervention team into the Schools for the Deaf and Blind within the next month to “overhaul the entire school.”
Burch discussed the recent release of the Special Circumstance Review Report on MetroNews “Talkline” Friday.
Burch called the 44-page report, the result of work from the state Department of Education’s Office of Support and Accountability, “the most thorough investigation we’ve done of the schools.”
A 21-member team discovered eight areas of non-compliance from student care, to personnel, to leadership at the Romney-based school.
Burch said working toward improvements will begin right away.
“It’s time for the department, as charged by the board (state Board of Education), to actually step in and run the intervention. So I’ll be placing an intervention team there,” Burch said.
Among information cited in the report highlighted by Burch; substandard achievement levels that rank below what deaf and blind students educated in their home communities receive, falling short in the the care and well-being of the students, transportation, that in some cases, doesn’t include the help of aides and nurses.
Burch also said there are very few, if any, transition plans made for students when they leave the Schools for the Deaf and Blind (WVSDB).
“We need to work with the children but also we need to do a better job of working with the families,” Burch said. “This school should be a resource for the entire state not just for the 90 children that go there. It should be the best that we have.”
The state has approximately 600 students who have serious hearing and sight issues but many are kept in their home communities.
State School Superintendent Clayton Burch talks with @HoppyKercheval about the problems at the West Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind and the way forward. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/y4Sqe1N7BF
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) June 25, 2021
Burch said he can’t put a time line for how long the intervention will last.
“I can’t say to the community that it will be a short intervention team,” he said.
The current leadership team at the schools will stay in place.
“We’ll work with the leadership team and assess them over the next several months.,” Burch said.
The state Board of Education discussed personnel levels at the schools in its April meeting. Burch told board members the schools had about a 20 full-time positions that were unfilled along with some attrition. He said the entire staff had to be reorganized to about 140 employees.
“What we found during this process that many of the positions were not listed correctly so they had to be corrected,” Burch told the state board.
Burch said about 20 people lost their jobs in the Reduction in the Force (RIF) process.
Approximately 40 of the 93 students live in a residence hall on the Romney campus. Burch said they had been operating two residence halls but moves were made in recent months to make it more efficient.
Burch said on “Talkline” he’d have to give the WVSDB a failing grade as it currently stands.
“It’s something that we cannot ignore. We cannot take any amount of time (delay). I’ll be up there several weeks in July putting the intervention team in place,” Burch said. “There’s no waiting on this one. We need to be prepared in August when they come back that we have begun the transformation of the school, modernizing it, and really expecting more.”
The seven focus areas of non-compliance include:
1 – Student Care
2 – Instruction
3 – Special Education
4 – Facilities
5 – Transportation
6 – Financial Indicators and Purchasing Compliance
7 – Personnel