DPS program for deaf students being eliminated

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — The Dearborn Public Schools program for deaf and hard-of-hearing students will be eliminated at the end of the school year.

Meetings for parents were held with Supt. Brian Whiston and Special Education Director Michael Shelton on March 12 and 13 to discuss the program’s end.

Ultimately, issues with the Total Communications Program led to the decision by the district.

“It was just not being run the way we believe it should be run,” Shelton said. “We believe teachers are not embracing the total communications philosophy we advertise.”

Teachers are isolating students in their special education classes and not integrating them enough in general education classes with their peers, Shelton said.

The goal of the Total Communications Program is to promote the development of English Language skills and academic achievement using American Sign Language, finger spelling, language and speech development and speech reading.

Of the 33 students in the program, 10 are from Dearborn including five in elementary, one in middle school and four in high school.

“The juniors and seniors in high school will be able to continue the program until they graduate,” Shelton said.

The rest of the students outside of Dearborn will have to go to their local districts where arrangements need to be made by the school they attend.

Detroit Public Schools is an other option for parents who still want their children to attend a deaf and hard-of-hearing program.

“Parents were emotional but respectful when they heard the news,” Shelton said.

Dearborn students will be placed into classrooms with their peers along with their interpreter to help them learn.
The change means deaf or hearing-impaired students will not spend as much time with each other.

“Those determinations on placement and programming are all made on an individual basis,” Shelton said. “Each one of us would meet with the families and decide the programs and services for the students.”

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at znajm@bewickpublications.com.)