Questions raised about Kentucky School for the Blind

Questions raised about Kentucky School for the Blind
Shawn Herrick (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Shawn Herrick (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Julie Culp (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Julie Culp (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Katie O'Bryan (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Katie O'Bryan (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Kentucky School for the Blind has been a part of the community since 1842. Its mission is provide comprehensive education services to all Kentucky students who are blind and visually impaired. But three mothers say that is not happening.

The mothers said initially their children excelled at the Kentucky School for the Blind. But in late 2014 things started changing at KSB for children with special needs beyond being blind.

Shawn Herrick said two people witnessed a teacher pushing her 10-year-old son Cole on two different dates. Cole is legally blind, deaf and has balance issues.

"One person said he was pushed hard enough they thought he was going to fall down. Was pushed repetitively, wasn't just one time," said Herrick.

She says the incident was reported to CPS but since there were no signs of injuries, no investigation took place. Herrick said Cole also became depressed. She said he was being placed for hours in what is called a quiet room, away from his peers, with a teacher.

"He was there all day long. For several days and only leaving for lunch and sometimes one other period," Herrick said. 

Herrick said she told the Principal and Supervisor of KSB - but nothing was done. She now home schools Cole.

Julie Culp also pulled her 9-year-old son Jonathan out of KSB. He is deaf, mentally delayed and non-verbal. They moved to Louisville from Tulsa, Oklahoma for the school.

"Disappointed. Because things were working so well up until that point," Culp said.

Culp said the school told her they didn't have the aides to assist her son. 

Katie O'Bryan moved from Owensboro so that her son Trey could attend the Kentucky School for the Blind. Trey is also developmentally delayed and O'Bryan said she is close to pulling him out of the school.

"There was an injury the very first day of school. Very little communication about what happened. How it happened," O'Bryan said.

The mothers went before the Kentucky Board of Education and shared their stories, hoping to spur change.

Later, Walter Hulett, the state manager for the Kentucky School for the Blind and Kentucky School for the Deaf, went before the board.

Board Member David Karem said, "I was told that the certification and expertise to deal with some of those disabilities do not exist at KSB."

"Short answer, at least for today, is that is an issue," Hulett said. "Our teachers are vision specialists. So when we get down the road of disabilities or multiple disabilities creates a challenge in and of itself."

Hulett also said that in the past, "there's this mindset of once in (KSB) always in, and that should be reconsidered."

Hulett is scheduled to go back before the board in December. The families are hoping with a solution.

"Under law always says kids are entitled to free and appropriate education. But when you get into the school system with a lot of needs, it's not always what happens in practice," Herrick said.

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