Linsay, Jonathan, and Daniel explained the history of how Nebraska School for the Deaf (NSD) was closed. What incidents led to NSD’s closure? How has the school’s closure impacted the rest of the deaf community in Nebraska? Is your school next?”
But unfortunately, in 1974, the PL 94-142, which we know as the IDEA law, forced public schools to take in students with disabilities, including Deafness. In exchange, they would get federal grants. With that, it was all over. Public schools everywhere were thrilled to set up Deaf education programs, which caused a noticeable decrease of Deaf students at NSD, and expansion of the public schools. That was also true for all of the United States.
To add insult to injury, in 1986, the Nebraska Department of Education added a rule. If the IEP, the Individual Education Plan, observed that a student needed public schooling, it was OK. But if a student needed to go to a Deaf school, they had to submit a case to the State for final observation and approval. We fortunately know that the State has denied many of them, furthering the decrease of Deaf students. After 1986 students, teachers, and staff had continuous, daily concerns about whether school was still open, and worried about possible threats from the Legislative to cut funding. The constant doubt kept going. In 1997, the Nebraska Legislature wanted to save some more money, so they elected and passed to close the school. So, yeah, it was over on June 5, 1998.
Daniel: The impact on the community was profoundly different. It changed the landscape of the community. More and more students would graduate from mainstreaming, public school, or whichever, and then go to colleges, universities, or stay here. And then they would notice the Deaf clubs and Deaf community and start participating. So that was a noticeable change, compared to before when there were more Deaf schools. As the Deaf schools went away, mainstreaming expanded. So, that’s an interesting change in that landscape.
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