Thursday, October 26, 2006

Clerc Center Teachers and Staff Conduct Second Poll, Overwhelmingly Ask for the Resignation of Dr. Jane Fernandes as President-Designate

October 25, 2006


Clerc Center Teachers and Staff Conduct Second Poll, Overwhelmingly Ask for the Resignation of Dr. Jane Fernandes as President-Designate.

Teachers and Staff at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center recently had a poll. Out of 235 teachers and staff, 119 participated in the poll. The results are as follows:

The teachers and staff of Laurent Clerc Center demand that Jane Kelleher Fernandes resign or be removed from her position for the greater good of Gallaudet University and the Laurent Clerc Center.

83% Agreed 6% Disagreed 11% Abstained

The teachers and staff of the Laurent Clerc Center request the Board of Trustees convene an emergency meeting with four elected representatives from the students, four elected faculty members, two elected staff members, two elected Laurent Clerc Center representatives, and two elected members of the Alumni Association to determine how to manage Gallaudet University during the interim and to plan for a re-opening of the search process.

88% Agreed 7% Disagreed 5% Abstained

The Teachers and Staff of the Laurent Clerc Center request no reprisals against any member of the community, including students, staff and faculty, Clerc Center teachers and staff, Trustees and alumni for their support of or dissent from the current protests.

92% Agreed 2% Disagreed 7% Abstained

# # #

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Kudos from former MSSD Employee

Kudos to the Laurent Clerc Center faculty and staff for writing up a brilliant letter of how we were treated by Dr. Jane Fernandes!!!! If not for her, I would still be working with you!

Jennifer Thomas
Former Employee of MSSD

Thursday, October 19, 2006

How to Contact Us

If you want to share a personal experience under Jane Fernandes' administration or to send a letter of encouragement, please send them to:

Thank You!

An Excellent Letter from Former Teacher/Researcher

Dear I. King Jordan and Jane Fernandes,

In our household, we have been receiving a flurry of letters and brochures from Gallaudet University, trying to sell us on the credibility of the current administration and you, Jane as the incoming President of Gallaudet and begging our support as alumni of Gallaudet. Let me start this letter with this quote, “the current administration of Gallaudet University can do anything but LISTEN!”

Over the past few months, you two along with the Board of Trustees have proven that you can do anything but listen! You have been focusing your energies on trying to sell your credibility to some of your stakeholders, Gallaudet alumni and the media. In the last 11 years, I have been watching and waiting. You have not earned your credibility. You two are becoming more and more transparent with the recent events at Gallaudet and how you are handling the current situation.

I was a Teacher/Researcher in the Preschool Department at Clerc Center when Jane Fernandes started out as Vice President. Restructuring efforts took place. While there was good reason behind the restructuring efforts, the employees, including myself did not own the restructuring process. We were told that what we have been doing was erroneous and that we had to change our philosophy and our instructional planning methods. What was the problem with this, you might ask. The problem was that we did not know what was expected of us. We asked for training opportunities. We asked to see a model of what we were expected to do. We were expected to change our teaching practices. We found out through parent and staff meetings with you, Jane Fernandes that you thought we were incompetent and you have stated that if it was up to you, that you would not hire us. You made it clear that you wanted a certain breed of people in positions throughout the program through your actions. I have never worked or lived in such a hostile and intimidating environment and I will never wish the same for anyone ever! I was so happy when another job opportunity came up. My heart went out to my former colleagues as they continued to work there under such uneasiness, hostility, unpredictability and such fear in a threatening environment. Upon my departure from the campus, I asked for an exit interview with you, I. King Jordan so that I could share my concerns about Jane Fernandes’ leadership style and actions taken. Denise LaRue had me do my exit interview with her and stated that she would share my concerns with you, I. King Jordan. That took place in 1996. There were letters on from the Clerc Center staff and parents of current and former students describing the same thing and I know what they are talking about. You know too, no matter how much you deny your actions or try to explain them away.

You did not listen.

Ten years later, your immediate and current stakeholders, the Faculty, Staff, Students and Alumni of Gallaudet University are sharing similar concerns I had before I left the Clerc Center. You are trying to provide leadership to the university community without listening to your most important stakeholders, the students. It is very obvious with the vote of no confidence from the faculty that there has been little if any improvement in your leadership ability or efforts. You are still using your powers to control the current situation at the university. I am very disheartened to read about the involvement of the campus police, the efforts to limit student access to interpreters and the efforts to control information that goes out to the general public through the media, and most recently, the arrests of Gallaudet students and one of the DPN Leaders, Tim Rarus! You are still trying to force your leadership through intimidation, fear and by using powers available to you through the university facilities and funds.

You are still not listening.

The Gallaudet University Faculty, Staff, Students and Alumni coalition has very important points and concerns that need your immediate ATTENTION and ACTION. What you need to do is to LISTEN to your primary stakeholders, the Gallaudet students. You need to stop trying to appeal to the alumni and general public by convincing us of your credibility. What you need to do is to earn your credibility. You need to earn our respect. You can’t demand or expect our respect. You need to stop using fear related tactics. You need to stop using resources the students are paying for. You need to stop intimidating people, especially your primary stakeholders!

It is our turn. We will not listen to you until you listen to us.

I am concerned about the future of Gallaudet if you continue to lead the university like this. I suggest you cease all mailings via snail mail or email to the alumni and refocus your energy on what is happening in your own front yard minus the use of earth juice. It is time you listened. It is time you earned our respect, confidence and your credibility. Take the time to listen to the demands made by the Faculty, Staff, Students, and Alumni (FSSA) coalition. Important note; the students are not alone. They are supported by the faculty, staff, alumni and community. I along with my fellow alumni in Delaware and all over the world support the FSSA. WE STAND UNITED!

I hope the next mass mailing we are bombarded with in our household is to announce your decision to respond to ALL OF GALLAUDET’S STAKEHOLDERS by following through with the demands of the FSSA, (to reopen the presidential search process upon Dr. Fernandes’ resignation and to allow for NO reprisals!


Debbie Trapani
Gallaudet Alumni, B.A. 1991 and Ed.S. 2005
Former Teacher/Researcher at KDES


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A letter from Laurent Clerc Parent

Subject: Re: Letter
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2006 09:00:31 -0400

As a parent of a child at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center, first at the Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES) and now at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD), I cannot support your selection as the next president of Gallaudet University.

In your Letter of Application, you wrote:

Elementary and secondary education. In 1995, I came to Gallaudet’s Pre-College Programs (now known as the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center) after having served for five years as head of the Hawaii Center for the Deaf and the Blind. I led a highly participatory process that resulted in the National Mission Plan and a complete restructuring of the demonstration elementary and secondary schools, as well as a restructuring of their research, development, and dissemination arms. The Education of the Deaf Act mandated us to focus on five priority categories of deaf and hard of hearing children and youth, including students who are from diverse cultures, who are lower achieving academically, whose families speak a language other than English at home, who have additional disabilities, and who live in rural areas.

In the spring of 1997, I wrote the following description about what was happening at KDES:

Please understand that I have no problem with the theories or principles behind what has been proposed: restructuring, integrated curriculum, team teaching, multi-leveling, inclusion of Special Opportunities Program (SOP) children in the mainstream. I do have a problem with the implementation; implementation so rapid that the school has, in my opinion, set itself up for failure. There has been insufficient time, consensus, leadership, management, support, hiring, training, education, and response to concerns. This has manifested itself on the parent, teacher and staff levels in the form of dissatisfaction and complaints which have gone unresolved. A frequent response is to point fingers at the administration.

The restructuring was perhaps brilliantly conceived and its reported implementation has undoubtedly gained the Congressional favor it was intended to foster. However, it is unrealistic to believe that a massive reassignment of teachers, staff, students and facilities, and massive change in teaching theories, principles and practices, could be implemented over the course of one summer [in 1996], during which only one week was provided for the newly-identified teams to meet, be trained and carry out the administration’s objectives. To this day, the hiring is still not complete, the theories and principles still not understood or practiced, acceptance by and cooperation among team members has not been achieved (something professional journals indicate is critical to the success of new programs), and training is almost nonexistent (especially leadership training).

I am particularly concerned about the integration of SOP children without adequate planning of activities, staff support and training. I have personally observed disruptive, uncontrolled behavior among some of the students. In one instance, a child was moved to a separate table in the classroom. Unattended, the child proceeded to smash the head of his pencil into the tabletop. Recently, it was reported to me that [an] SOP student attempted to choke my child. I have no sense of confidence that the school has what it takes to minimize behavioral disruptions and maximize the academic and social/emotional benefits that these SOP children can obtain in a mainstreamed environment.

Considering the lack of school-wide leadership, management, coordination, support, staffing and training, it is almost amazing that KDES continues to function. I attribute this to the resilience, determination and professionalism of individual teachers, [like my child’s teacher]. I also attribute this to the resiliency, flexibility and ability of the children to cope and learn in an environment that frequently changes. However, there are costs which can be measured in terms of faculty, staff and student retention, along with student achievement in academics and social/emotional growth. In my humble opinion, the costs may be too high.

KDES used to be a community of caring teachers, parents and students. During the past year, communication between the administration and parents, and in many cases between teachers and parents, has been almost nonexistent. Today, the level of frustration, anger and disappointment among us is almost palpable. Morale among faculty and staff is the lowest I have ever seen. Instead of just being autocratic or dictatorial, the administration is beginning to appear oppressive. Many families are responding by moving their children to other schools.

On May 8, 2006, I read an article in the DC Examiner – “Gallaudet president-select answers her critics” by Bill Myers (interview with Jane K. Fernandes) – :

Q: What about the 75 students who went over to the Maryland School for the Deaf from the Gallaudet pre-college program while you were in charge?

A: There was a “white flight.” And at that time, there was a program [here] called the Special Opportunities Program. And of the 50 students were in the program, 49 were African-American. And that was a program that did not have very high academic standards, that didn’t have high expectation for the students. So I restructured the schools so those students would be integrated with deaf white students. And parents who didn’t want to work with that made a decision to move to other schools. And that’s their right to do that. And I hope they’re getting a good education.

Dr. Fernandes, your assessment of what transpired at the Clerc Center under your administration is seriously flawed and your response to what transpired, given as a university president-select, labeling your constituency racist, is absolutely appalling.

The author of this letter wishes to remain anonymous to protect the identity of her child.

A Letter from Concerned ex-Clerc Center member & Gallaudet Alumnus

Dear Clerc Center family:

My heart goes out for Gallaudet and the wonderful people like you and students at the Clerc Center. I truly appreciate the strong points in your letter posted at I believe in what you intend to do to help restore peace and unity on the Green for the sake of Deaf & HofH children's future. Not only that, you all also have so much potential to prepare Deaf children and adolescents to academically and socially build their dream.

Now I would like to talk a little bit about my experience in research work, teaching and management under Clerc Center. I no longer work on campus, but looking back I have good and bad memories. Thus, I'm deeply concerned for the welfare of the workplace and education at the Clerc Center. This is especially because Dr. Janes Fernandes (JK) has been selected as president-designate for our reowned Gallaudet University.

While I gained admiration and respect for many people I worked with at the Clerc Center (and Gallaudet), unfortunately through times I witnessed and sensed the inharmonious campuswide climate set off by JK's administration among personnel. This occurred when JK became Director of the PCNMP, and even though when she then became Provost for Gallaudet's Academic Affairs, the aftermath of her abrupt & inadequate
administration would linger unpleasantly at the Clerc Center. My Clerc Center employment period may not be as long as many others; however, I felt the need for
the existing infrastructure to continuously recover and build up. We had to carry on with financial and program constraints, which should not have happened if more effective administrating and planning was done previously. It seemed as if we had to face a major overhaul to restore the well-being and spirit of KDES and MSSD, along with other affected areas. Some patching up, some equipment and resource replacements, and much needed planning and were done by administration only at repetitious or desperate requests. Reorganization shifted us forth and back while trying to keep up with our job. When I left, I could see that things were starting to pick up, yet, some crucial things have to be changed. Not necessarily drastically, but with full support from a fresh and enlightened leadership (unlike IKJ and JK) the Clerc Center can be a better place to breathe, work, teach, and unite. That will make an impact on the center's research projects and mission programs because they would greatly benefit from the success of this kind of collaboration.

I firmly concur with the Clerc Center's plea for unity at Gallaudet under a most desired and vibrant leadership.

Sincerely Yours,
Concerned ex-Clerc Center member & proud Gallaudet

A Letter from Gallaudet Parent

My daughter, aged 29, is a 2nd year student at Gallaudet. Before commenting on the situation at hand, I wanted to do some research and read some of the letters and comments. Based on all the information I have read, I give my full support to the students, faculty and staff who are behind this protest.

My daughter grew up in a hearing family where everyone signed. She is proud of who she is and her Deaf Culture. Ever since she was young, she strived to do her best to “keep up” with her hearing peers. She mainstreamed into the public school system in 8th grade and excelled in both middle school and high school. That did not mean, however, that she lost touch with who she was as a Deaf person.

She made a decision over a year ago that, if she wanted to get ahead in society and become financially stable, she would return to school to get a Bachelor’s Degree. She has always been independent and done very well for herself. She did not want to become one of those who lived off the Government. She chose Gallaudet because it had been praised as an excellent institution for higher learning, especially amongst the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. However she feels that, under the current leadership, the quality of education is not quite what she had heard it was. This disappoints us both greatly. As my daughter states, “I am Deaf.. NOT stupid and we, as Deaf students, deserve the quality and level of education as our hearing peers and to have our education recognized in the career world.” Quite a profound statement.

I am concerned because I want her to be confident and to graduate with the same knowledge and experience as everyone else so as to acquire employment that would enable her to experience financial independence and happiness…just like everyone else with a degree.

Although I do not agree with all the methods the protestors are using in order to be “heard” or to stand up for what they believe in, I fully understand the frustration they must feel and am in 100% agreement with them voicing their opinion and standing up for what they believe in. Since it’s the students who in fact keep the school going monetarily, they should have rights -- the most important of which, being heard.

I hope there can be a resolution to this matter soon so the students, especially those who are not part of this, can get on with their education. So much valuable time has already been lost. At this point I believe Fernandez is “holding her ground” out of spite – not concern for the students, faculty or staff.


A Concerned Parent

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Just Saying Thank You!

Dear Galludet organizers,

I was recently made aware of the struggle currently going on at Galludet. Your fight for real democracy in our lives is the struggle of every human being living in our society. And I am proud to know that I share the struggle with people of your character and resolve.

I understand the current arrests are a terrible blow for organizers who are powerless against the "men in blue". But I just hope you know that your sacrifice does not go ignored. I'm sure at some time we will have much to talk about, but for now I guess all I wanted to say was thanks.

A Fellow Traveler

A Letter from Former Clerc Center Employee

Hello Clerc Center Teachers and Staff,

I had a good working experience and established good working relationships with many of students, parents, faculty members, and staff. I would have continued working few more years there if there wasn't any ambiance of negativity that I felt from the administrators and the feeling of school morale was very low for me.

After reading the letter sent by Clerc Center Teachers and Staff, I don't feel alone anymore. I read that Sunshine Fund was terminated and I was appalled and shocked. I used to manage this kind of fund for two years before handing the responsiblity to another person. This fund is so important for staff and faculty in having an atmosphere where we do care and feel good about each other. When I learned that this fund was terminated, my heart was saddened.

I do not want to go into depth and details about my experience of negativity that I had during my employment, but your letter within the rationale for calling Jane K. Fernandes resignation covers so much for the Clerc Center teachers and staff. I understand very well of having your names withheld due to the fear of reprisals, but I admire your courage in sending this letter. This letter really pushed me out of neutrality and expressed my voice at the tent city calling for the resignation of Jane K. Fernandes. After talking with few other alumnus and I learned that they also experienced very similar kind of ambiance of negativity elsewhere on the campus. Recently I talked with other alumnus who graduated from Gallaudet in the eighties, they said the ambiance were good and positive. So what happened now? Well, I now believe that this kind of negativity was really distributed downward from I King Jordan and Jane K. Fernandes.

I really feel for the students for missing out one week of school and board of trustees need to redo the process in a proper process with fairness not favoritism. Favoritism is what I suspected since from day I watched the IKJ's "blooper" action by saying "Presid......uhh...Provost" that I saw on TV in the teacher's lounge with my coworkers when President I King Jordan announced his retirement this coming Dec 31.

The school needs to be open for the students. So do Gallaudet University. I hope that the Board of Trustee will do the right thing and end this nightmare.

Since I'm not an employee at Clerc Center anymore so feel free to post my letter if you teachers and staff would like to. Even I'm not an Clerc Center employee anymore, I stand besides with you, teachers and staff. Thank you.

--A Former Clerc Center Employee & Gallaudet Alumni

A Letter from Kendall Parent

Thank you!

It's good to see folks from Clerc Center speaking out, and countering some of the misinformation.

Not being directly involved, I have no idea what plans are in place to continue the advocacy beyond the current level of protest. But so much has been accomplished in raising issues, opening up history to all of us, and bringing people together - I hope there is a way for all of that to continue.

From the activist poet Luis Rodriguez, this short poem says a lot about why it's important for Kendall and MSSD families to support the Gallaudet protest:

"It's not enough to prepare our children for the world. We must also
prepare the world for our children."

--A Kendall Parent

Our Letter

NOTE: The authors’ names are withheld due to fear of reprisals.

October 13, 2006


Teachers and Staff at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center Call for the Resignation of Dr. Jane K. Fernandes from Gallaudet University.

Washington, DC – October 13, 2006 – Following a meeting yesterday morning, a group of teachers and staff currently working at the colloquially-known Clerc Center resolved on a number of matters; the most pertinent is our call for Dr. Jane K. Fernandes to respectfully resign her post as president-select of Gallaudet University. We present as justification the following rationale and, finally, propose a series of mandates as steps toward healing the still-lingering damage from Dr. Fernandes’ tenure as Vice President of Pre-College National Mission Programs. As a result, we are opposed to allowing Dr. Fernandes the chance to impose similar damage on Gallaudet University as a whole.

We are representative of a larger Clerc Center community. We did not approve of Gallaudet University’s decision to close Clerc Center on October 11 and 12. The protesters were prepared to allow MSSD and Kendall staff on-campus so that education for pre-collegiate students could continue uninterrupted. University administrators shoulder the burden of responsibility for the two days of lost teaching time for those students.

While we do not condone negative tactics by either protesters or administration officials, we look forward to a peaceful resolution.

During her tenure as the vice president of Pre-College National Mission Programs (PCNMP) from 1995 to 2000, Dr. Jane K. Fernandes ignored, alienated, and disrespected teachers and staff. During a period of restructuring in 1996, the teachers and staff at PCNMP sought to offer additional advice and direction, only to be shunned and mocked. To continue our employment, we had to endure an atmosphere of distrust and fear. This statement of our oppression is long overdue.

As proof of Dr. Fernandes being an ineffectual leader and damaging the infrastructure of Clerc Center, we offer the following:

* A poll was conducted during the May protests. Fifty-eight percent of the teachers at the Clerc Center participated in this poll, where 82% stated they did not support the process that selected Dr. Fernandes as the 9th president.
* In addition to the first poll question, the second poll question asked teachers if they were ready to move on and accept Dr. Fernandes as the 9th president, 79% voted NO.
* Class sizes were drastically expanded with many levels of instructional needs in one class.
* Due to Dr. Fernandes’ changes in the educational programs at PCNMP, enrollment plummeted, only to increase dramatically after her departure from the Clerc Center.
* Many support staff members gave up their primary roles to intervene with a significant increase in student violence inside the school due to forced removal of the disciplinary system without implementation of alternative options.
* Dr. Fernandes saw no value in the faculty governance system and the grievance process, which were both eliminated during her tenure.
* Many jobs, departments, and programs were closed (i.e., Performing Arts Program, Special Opportunities Program, Woodshop, Driver’s Education, Communication Department, Career Development Program, International Student Exchange Program).
* The dissolution of Student Development program had a huge negative impact on the quality of student leadership (i.e. Peer Mediation, Judicial Board, Student Body Government, student-run enrichment days).
* After restructuring, department budgets were combined and teams had less control over their respective budgets. As a result, available monies for departments were reduced. This led to outdated materials and equipment available to teachers and staff.
* The dissolution of academic departments left teachers/staff no choice but to work/teach outside their content areas. Some competent and skilled people quit as a result of being asked to do things for which they weren’t qualified.
* The issue of accountability was not clearly defined. Under Dr. Fernandes, people didn’t know who to contact regarding policy and procedures.

As proof of Dr. Fernandes alienating and ignoring teachers and staff, we offer the following:

* The removal of tenure in a non-democratic way, without teacher input and involvement.
* Faculty status of teachers was stripped.
* Opportunities to apply for sabbatical leave were also denied. In the past, use of sabbatical leave made implementation of several successful programs possible (i.e., Structure of ASL and Deaf Studies courses, Minority/Multicultural Programs, Family Math program).
* In 1996, Lead Teachers asked for one full school year to plan, to set up and to implement a new system. They requested this time to find resources and to set aside time for training. Dr. Fernandes ignored the majority opinion, listening instead to selected advisors.
* Teachers’ requests to order certain books were ignored. Older resources were thrown out and new materials ordered without teacher input which caused problems for teachers using thematic instruction.
* When the Curriculum Enhancement program was implemented in place of the Elective Department, Dr. Fernandes allowed 40 plus students in many individual CE classes that lasted 90 minutes to allow grade team teachers and staff to meet and plan. CE Teachers at Kendall were helpless and unable to manage their classes and to discipline unruly students.
* When restructuring caused students and parents frustration, confusion, and sometimes, anger, teachers and staff members were left alone to bear the consequences of decisions they had no part in making.
* The Special Opportunity Program was disbanded without transition. The needs of deaf students with additional or unique needs were not being met. They often sat in “mainstream” classes and contributed little or nothing, which caused educational and emotional distractions for other students.

As proof of Dr. Fernandes creating an atmosphere of distrust and fear, we offer the following:

* Teachers and staff who have deaf children were threatened, personally and professionally, for not enrolling their children at Kendall or MSSD.
* Dr. Fernandes prevented teachers from meeting during work hours by encouraging the disbandment of the faculty organization.
* Termination of the Sunshine Fund that teachers and staff created for sending cards and/or gifts when appropriate for certain occasions (i.e., anniversaries, births, deaths, hospitalizations, weddings);
* Dr. Fernandes also allowed no support for personal milestones, losses and celebrations of any kind. She stated that “We are not here to have fun and play. We are here to work.”
* When people asked Dr. Fernandes for her input, she responded by telling us to make decisions ourselves, only to criticize us for our incompetence. We were constantly criticized for every little step we made and afraid to take risks.
* Forcing us to undergo radical change without any direction and often under harsh criticism resulted in such severe grieving that outside counselors and consultants were brought in to heal wounds. Dr. Fernandes was nowhere to be found.
* Dr. Fernandes put a stop to the Teacher Evaluation System that was used for many years. When problems escalated, she had the revised TES implemented. Dr. Fernandes did not bother with follow-up review to make sure the process was just and fair.
* The removal of the sabbatical leave during Dr. Fernandes’ administration occurred when she successfully manipulated a few personnel into supporting her decision and informed a certain member of the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees that the majority of faculty and staff agreed.

Mandates Proposed by Laurent Clerc Center Teachers/Staff:

* We deserve the opportunity to set up an organization where our voice will be heard.
* We desire shared governance.
* We support the FSSA’s demands.