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Task Force To Study School For The Deaf Not Passed By Committee – Oklahoma

Task Force To Study School For The Deaf Not Passed By Committee

February 27, 2014

By Zack Hedrick

SULPHUR, OK — The broad phrasing of a recent senate bill had local parents worried it was the first step toward shutting down the Oklahoma School for the Deaf in Sulphur.

But parents are now breathing a sigh of relief.

After entering the Oklahoma School for the Deaf in fifth grade, Zack Thornton is now flourishing as a sophomore at the school.

"Oklahoma School for the Deaf means a lot to me," said Zack. "Before I went to public school, and because of my hearing I was struggling."

"It took us one trip of a tour before our boy started up there to know this was going to work," said Wendell Thornton, Zack's father.

Thornton's parents were concerned when they first heard of Senate Bill 1846.

"My first thought is, 'Why?'" said Wendell.

School officials say concerns were raised when the bill proposed a task force which would study the effectiveness of the school. But nowhere in the bill does it specify what areas the task force would study.

Senator Greg Treat authored the bill. He says the group would have looked at items such as illiteracy rates, ACT scores, and overall academic performance compared to other public schools.

The broad language of what the task force would study is what administrators say led to some parents concerns.

"People didn't really understand that was not what the bill was for," said Superintendent KaAnn Varner. "Anything that has to do with OSD people are always concerned and this bill was to simply give information on OSD which we're happy to provide."

Varner says the school meets all of the requirements any other school in the state has to meet.

The bill did not pass through the education committee on Monday and parents are now breathing a little easier.

"Very relieved," said Wendell.

Senator Treat says he is now working with fellow senator Frank Simpson to put together an interim study of the school that could happen in the fall if approved.



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