No one can really put their finger on why the Emergency Financial Manager for Detroit Public Schools Roy Roberts wants to shut down the Detroit Day School for the Deaf. It receives most of its funding from the federal government, with very little coming from the city and DPS.
Some say that the school, one of the oldest schools of its kind in the United States founded in 1898 and specially designed for deaf students, sits on a valuable property with many parties, including Wayne State University, interested in gaining control of it. Others say it is idealogical, with lawmakers wanting to ‘mainstream’ deaf students because they feel they should not be given special schools. Advocates for the school and its students also believe that DPS has intentionally steered parents of deaf children away from attending in the school in an attempt to keep enrollment levels low to justify its closure.
One thing is for certain, if this school, the only full communication access school for the deaf in Detroit closes, students that come from up to 50 miles away each day to attend will be shuttled off into mainstream public schools with little, if any, assistance to help them learn and navigate in a world designed for those who can hear.
On April 5th, 2012 organizers from Occupy Detroit and BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) staged a protest outside of the school at the intersection of the John C Lodge Fwy and Forest to bring awareness to the community about the school and its possible closure. The group had originally planned to enter and occupy the school but that was shelved when turnout for the event was less than expected. Instead, they gathered with signs waving and encouraging passing cars to honk in support of the school, in hopes that at least some will take notice of the school’s dire situation.
BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) and Occupy Detroit supporters protest outside the Detroit Day School for the Deaf against the proposed closure of the school.
Using sign language, Detroit Day School for the Deaf student Jason Pauling explains he can’t understand why they want to close his school down.
BAMN activists yell to passing cars in front of the Detroit Day School for the Deaf during an action to speak out and bring awareness about the proposed closure of the school.
Shandria Vaughn, Detroit resident and University of Michigan Dearborn student waves her BAMN flag to cars as they pass in front of the Detroit Day School for the Deaf.
Detroit Southwestern High School student Sally Youssef lends her voice to the protest in front of the Detroit Day School for the Deaf.
After an hour of protesting in front of the Detroit Day School for the Deaf, supporters gather around to listen to Shanta Driver, national chairperson of BAMN, speak about the day’s action. She explains that originally, the plan had been to enter and occupy the school but the number of protesters and willing activists was less than expected, so the decision was made to not follow through with it.