Indiana Schools for the Deaf and Blind or Visually Impaired ignored by Governor and Republican supermajority

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State Rep. Gregory W. Porter (D-Indianapolis), ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, released the following statement about the governor and Republican leadership dropping the ball on appointing a task force to meet regularly, collect research and hear from the public to make recommendations to the State Budget Committee regarding the future of the Indiana School for the Deaf and the Indiana School for the Blind or Visually Impaired:

“With the December 1 deadline fast approaching for a task force to make a recommendation to the budget committee regarding the Indiana School for the Deaf and the Indiana School for the Blind or Visually Impaired, the task force is just getting around to having its first meeting today. A second meeting is scheduled for next Monday (November 25). I’d like to know how they plan to make a well-researched, thoughtful recommendation to the budget committee in less than two weeks.

“The way this process has been handled is careless and shady, and I can’t help but call the governor and Republican leadership out for dropping the ball here. At the end of the day, the recommendations being made to the budget committee need to be thoughtful and thorough because they will help the committee make a decision that will directly impact how these two schools and communities continue to operate and their ability to teach their deaf and blind students.

“I am especially frustrated because I should have been appointed as a member of this task force because the Indiana School for the Deaf is in my district, Indiana House District 96. If I was assigned to the task force, I would have been able to push for regular meetings, public testimony and more transparency for this process.

“This task force has had since the end of session—approximately 7 months—to get organized, hold public hearings, do their research and come up with a recommendation to the budget committee. We are less than two weeks away from the December 1 deadline and the governor just appointed a chair of the task force. This shows the indifference and the going-through-the-motions-approach that the administration and the legislative majority have taken on this issue that will impact Indiana’s deaf and blind or visually impaired communities. 

“Our deaf and blind students, their families, and the facility and staff at these institutions deserve to be treated with more care and respect.”

Background:

During the 2019 legislative session, the governor signed into law HEA 1443.

This legislation:

  • Set up a task force to study the Indiana schools for the deaf and blind.
  • Establishes the Indiana Schools for the Deaf and the Blind or Visually Impaired task force to evaluate and make recommendations to the budget committee relating to the operation of the physical plants of the Indiana School for the Deaf and the Indiana School for the Blind or Visually Impaired.
  • Provides that the task force shall make its final recommendations to the budget committee on or before December 1, 2019.
  • Establishes the task force advisory committee to advise the task force on matters necessary for the task force to carry out its responsibilities.
  • Provides that the Indiana Department of Administration shall provide staffing and administrative support for the task force and the advisory committee.
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