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Parents want new leadership at Marlton School in Baldwin Hills

Servicing deaf, hearing impaired

City News Service | 5/31/2018, 9:49 a.m.

Parents, students and alumni of the Marlton School in Baldwin Hills -- the only school for deaf and hard-of-hearing children that's run by a California school district -- are demanding new leadership at the school amid frustration over high turnover, cuts to extracurricular programs and sports, and the absence of high-level staff fluent in American Sign Language.

For generations, the Marlton School has been a second home for deaf and hard-of-hearing students in Los Angeles. But anger over the school's administration has sparked a revolt led by parents, alumni and advocacy groups who believe the school is in crisis, the Los Angeles Times reported. They point to high turnover, cuts to extracurricular programs and sports, and the absence of high-level staff fluent in ASL.

Earlier this month, dozens gathered outside of Marlton to demand the resignation of the current principal, Lisa DeRoss, saying she is not qualified to lead the school because she does not know ASL. They held posters that read, “Deaf Principal Now!" and “Take Back Deaf Education."

The protest was the latest and most visible chapter in an ongoing conflict between the school district and L.A.'s deaf community, according to The Times.

A year ago, experts in deaf education launched a letter-writing campaign calling for L.A. Unified to replace Marlton's outgoing principal with an administrator fluent in ASL.

“Now is the time to break the cycle of hiring administrators who are unprepared to lead Marlton," wrote two East Los Angeles College professors. The district's decision to hire DeRoss -- Marlton's third principal in five years -- inflamed tensions.

“The situation has gone from bad to worse," Ellen Schneiderman, a Cal State Northridge education professor who previously taught at Marlton and still has ties to the school, told The Times. “The tone and morale at the school is awful. Many families have pulled their children. We have lost some outstanding teachers because they can't take it anymore."