For Immediate Release: June 24, 2021
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) has released the Special Circumstance Review Report of the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind (WVSDB). The WVDE Office of Support and Accountability conducted the review in April, which resulted in issues of non-compliance in focus areas ranging from student care to finance and school leadership.
Located in Romney, West Virginia, the WVSDB currently houses 93 students and 24 teachers. The Department previously provided increased supports to the facility throughout the 2020 school year during a change in administration at the school. Further concerns surfaced resulting in additional supports in multiple areas such as personnel, transportation, finance, special education and the Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan (CEFP). The Special Circumstance Review was necessary to provide a complete look at the issues and identify areas in need of improvement.
A WVDE team of 21 staff members conducted the on-site review that consisted of 49 classroom observations, 29 instructional staff interviews, multiple classroom visits, a tour of facilities and a thorough examination of student files and financial records between April 27 – 29, 2021.
The investigation uncovered multiple areas of non-compliance in the focus areas of:
1 – Student Care
2 – Instruction
3 – Special Education
4 – Facilities
5 – Transportation
6 – Financial Indicators and Purchasing Compliance
7 – Personnel
8 – Leadership
Non-compliance ranged from issues of students’ social-emotional support and well-being to needed improvements in professional development and leadership infrastructure at the school. Additionally, the review revealed the need for improved documentation, family communication and the utilization and maintenance of facilities.
An action plan based on the recommendations from the report will address immediate, short-term and long-term needs at the WVSDB. Consolidation of the two schools will begin this summer, providing students increased opportunities to interact with peers and more efficient access to services. Plans will also include increased community and parent communication and engagement. Eventually, short courses providing intensive training will be available for students and teachers from all 55 counties. These plans also include increased learning opportunities and resources for parents at the campus.
“We will always focus on what is best for the children of our state, especially those in vulnerable circumstances,” said West Virginia Board of Education President Miller Hall. “The Board is committed to the process of restoring the vision and mission of the school so that it can best serve this important role. It is going to take some time; however, it is essential that we understand the magnitude of the issues in order to begin implementing the necessary measures.”
“My staff and I are dedicated to supporting the WVSDB in addressing the deficiencies outlined in the report,” said State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “We will begin with immediate concerns in the process of transforming the school to become a center for excellence in the education of West Virginia students who are deaf/hard of hearing or blind/low vision. This is the start of an intensive and deliberative process for the school that serves an important role in our state.”
The Instructional Resource Center, currently housed at the WVSDB, will serve a pivotal role by providing technical assistance to all 55 counties. This includes exploring and expanding the resources at the WVSDB so they may be available to students throughout the state who are deaf/hard of hearing and or blind/visually impaired.
The Special Circumstance Review was conducted as outlined in W.Va. Code §18-2E-5 WVBE Policy 2322 which establishes 11 efficiency indicators necessary to provide an effective school system. The West Virginia Board of Education has received the report and instructed the State Superintendent to prepare the public report on the findings and establish an intervention team to lead efforts to implement the action plan to address areas of non-compliance.
To review the report, please click here.
For media inquiries, contact Christy Day at the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications at 304-558-2699 or Christy.Day@k12.wv.us.