Occupy Detroit Rallies to Save School for the Deaf

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BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) and Occupy Detroit supporters protest outside the Detroit Day School for the Deaf against the proposed closure of the school. Photo: James Fassinger

On April 5, organizers from Occupy Detroit and BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) staged a protest outside the Detroit Day School for the Deaf, which the Emergency Financial Manager for Detroit Public Schools wants to shut down. But the school receives most of its funding from the federal government – very little comes from the city and the Detroit Public Schools.

Using sign language, Detroit Day School for the Deaf student Jason Pauling explains he can’t understand why the DPS would want to close his school down. Photo: James Fassinger

Some say that the school – one of the oldest schools of its kind in the United States, founded in 1898 and specially designed for deaf students – shares valuable property with many parties interested in gaining control of it, including including Wayne State University. Others say it is ideological, with lawmakers wanting to “mainstream” deaf students because they feel they should not be given special schools. Advocates for the school and its students also believe that DPS has intentionally steered parents of deaf children away from attending in the school in an attempt to keep enrollment levels low to justify its closure.

Detroit Southwestern High School student Sally Youssef lends her voice to the protest in front of the Detroit Day School for the Deaf. Photo: James Fassinger

One thing is for certain: if this school, the only full-communication access school for the deaf in Detroit, is forced to close, students who travel up to 50 miles away each day to attend will be shuttled off into mainstream public schools with little, if any, assistance to help them learn and navigate in a world designed for those who can hear.

Activists yell to passing cars in front of the Detroit Day School for the Deaf. Photo: James Fassinger

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  • Terry Hall

    I shot this event along side the author/photographer of this article. Great photos and good coverage, but I struggled to publish the story because I could not confirm the facts. To mainstream or not to mainstream? It is ideological… The bigger question is definitely around closing schools down. The Emergency Manager Roy Roberts is calling the shots. Mr. Roberts is a former GM executive and makes $250,000 per year as Emergency Manager of DPS. What are his credentials in education? Simple, none. Nice story, see you out there soon!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jamesfassinger James Fassinger

    Terry, good to have met you out at the protest! There have been some interesting comments made regarding the closing of the school from parents and supporters on my blog as well. You can see them here: http://www.stillscenes.com/?p=771 They give a different perspective…

  • Abarbe


    • Abarbe

      i jason pauling why detroitdayschoolforthedeaf fight of yes kids bad

  • mary f surette

    please sign this petition to support for deaf children thank you ily