- Associated Press - Thursday, April 6, 2017

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - An overhaul of the Kentucky School for the Blind following complaints over inability to meet complex needs has eased parents’ ire.

The Courier-Journal reported (https://cjky.it/2ngcVCr ) Thursday that Education Department and Commissioner Stephen Pruitt has enacted significant changes after parents raised concerns in late 2015 that new school practices were aimed at weeding out children with disabilities in addition to blindness.

Pruitt is directly involved with the operation of the K-12 school with 65 students, listing the Louisville school and the Kentucky School for the Deaf in Danville as priorities. As commissioner, he is superintendent of the two schools.

Parents credited the appointment of interim principal Tristan Parsons, a state education official with a background in special education, and a new culture of transparency with reversing what they felt was a marked deterioration in education and unwillingness to accommodate complex needs, such as autism or behavioral disorders. The previous administration denied parents access to classrooms.

“We couldn’t come past the lobby before,” parent Katie O’Bryan said. “The fact that we can now come in is a big deal. We are welcome to visit and volunteer.”

The previous administration also limited outside therapists and specialists from helping students with needs beyond visual impairment.

Parent Bette Lee likened Jackalyn Williams, a popular teacher hired last year for children with multiple disabilities, to Helen Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan. Williams credited the outside therapists with significantly helping her students and said she makes an effort with each child.

“It’s very personal,” she said. “You have to get to know the child.”

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Information from: The Courier-Journal, https://www.courier-journal.com

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