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Beachwood Board To Hear State of Deaf/Hard of Hearing Program

Presentation will likely take place at mid-December meeting of the Beachwood Board of Education.

Editor's note, Nov. 28: This meeting has been scheduled for Dec. 3. See the latest story here.

Though parents, alumni and community members have been discussing the future of the Beachwood Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consortium Program for weeks, the Board of Education will likely not have the program on their meeting agenda until mid-December.

And even then, the presentation is expected to be only an update on the state of the program that will likely include many of with no possible plans of action discussed yet, spokesperson Doug Levin said.

The program's declining enrollment and increasing costs have forced the district to reevaluate its structure, Superintendent Rich Markwardt said.

The consortium, whose program is administered by Beachwood City Schools, serves 25 students and is comprised of 29 school districts, including Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights-University Heights, Twinsburg, Solon and Mayfield Heights.

The program is believed by parents and staff to be in peril because of the contract that the interpreters' union agreed to earlier this year.

The district is considering pulling out as the program’s fiscal officer in 2014, according to the  instead of three like the district’s teachers' union contract.

In response to the contract, an employee created a Facebook group called "Save the Beachwood Deaf/HH Program" and rumors flew about the program shutting down.

Markwardt released a statement Sept. 5 discussing the district's intentions: "In anticipation of the program's projected continued contraction, the Beachwood administration is taking a proactive approach by initiating a discussion on how to better serve D/HH children - rather than wait for the program's demise - with a restructured service delivery model by the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year."

Supporters of the program have attended Board of Education meetings to speak about how the program has positively impacted their lives and circulated a petition asking the Board to allow them to participate in a task force to evaluate the program.

For now, the presentation is tentatively scheduled for the Dec. 17 meeting, though the agenda will not be finalized for that meeting until late the week before, Levin said.*

Watch Patch for more updates on this ongoing story.

*Editor's note, Nov. 28: This meeting has been scheduled for Dec. 3. See the latest story here.

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