Deaf Students Are Entitled To An Education, But There’s A Shortage Of People Qualified To Teach Them

empty classroom desks/chairs with papers and backpacks lying around.

YAKIMA, Wash. — Sadie VanAllen thought she was giving her kids a shot at a better life when she moved from a two-bedroom apartment to a three-bedroom house on Yakima’s west side. The new place had separate rooms for her two growing children and a fenced yard for play. Conveniently, it was only about a seven-minute drive from Whitney Elementary School, where both of her kids were enrolled in the Yakima School District’s deaf education program.

But the move put VanAllen and her children outside of the Yakima district’s boundaries, and school district officials told her she could no longer keep her children enrolled in its deaf education program. They would have to transfer into the West Valley School District, which does not have an equivalent program and contracts with a third-party company for interpreters.

For weeks, VanAllen tried to figure out a solution with Yakima officials, who agreed to let her children stay for the rest of the school year. But the experience left her and her children shaken and at times uncertain how long they could continue to access the education resources the kids need.

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