W.Va. Dept. of Ed Develops Action Plan to Address Concerns at Schools for the Deaf and the Blind

October 06, 2010

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Education has developed an action plan to address educational concerns raised in the first review of the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind by the Office of Education Performance Audits.

Deputy Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple on Wednesday outlined the plan during the state Board of Education’s October meeting. Among the recommendations are establishing a technical support team, which will guide the schools in implementing the report’s recommendations.

“The Schools for the Deaf and the Blind have had a long history in our state, spanning about 140 years,” said state Board of Education President Priscilla Haden. “Until now, the Schools for the Deaf and the Blind were operating outside of the preK through 12 accountability system. We recognize that as a problem and have taken steps to address it.”

Already, the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind (WVSDB) have identified a safety consultant, who has completed an analysis of safety issues at the facility in Hampshire County. A comprehensive plan is to be filed by Oct. 20. The facility also has received a waiver of federal e-rate rules that allow for Internet access to be installed in the student dormitories.

The West Virginia Board of Education and the state Department of Education have a responsibility to all the students of West Virginia,” said state Superintendent Steve Paine. “It is unfortunate that the issues at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind have only recently surfaced. Nevertheless, we are taking bold and swift action to correct deficiencies and provide a thorough and efficient education to the students served by both schools.”

The action plan requires the WVSDB to complete by Jan. 1 a Five Year Strategic Plan based on student and programmatic needs. It also calls for establishing a national advisory council, whose members would work with WVSDB staff to identify areas of concern and recommend steps for improvement. The plan also calls for the WVSDB to join the conference of Education Administrators of Schools for the Deaf and participate in its accreditation process. In addition, it is recommended that the WVSDB work with Hampshire County Schools to immediately identify programs and services that could be shared.

Kenna Seal, director of the Office of Education Performance Audits, led a team that reviewed the school in June. The OEPA’s report was presented to the board on Wednesday. Seal recommended a follow-up audit be conduct in September 2011.

The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) is committed to ensuring all students in the state are college and career ready when they graduate from a public school. What West Virginia students are learning in school exceeds national and international standards. Through the WVDE’s 21st century learning plan called Global21: Students deserve it. The world demands it, West Virginia is seeing better student performance on the West Virginia Educational Standards Test 2 (WESTEST2); the SAT and the ACT, college entrance exams; the job skills assessment called Work Keys given to career and technical education students; and in a high school graduation rate that exceeds the national average. For more information contact the Office of Communications at 304-558-2699.

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