Huntsville parent fights for equal educational opportunities for 8-year-old deaf child

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Imagine an 8-year-old deaf child in a first grade classroom where no one can communicate with him.

Ryann Brown said her son sat in a classroom at Whitesburg Elementary without an interpreter for two weeks before she was made aware of the issue.

The Browns adopted Asher in the Dominican Republic when he was just 4-years-old.

A childhood disease took his hearing when he was just an infant.

Ryann Brown reached out to us for help in getting an interpreter in Asher's classroom so he could communicate with others.

Asher is a remarkably bright and inquisitive little boy. His teachers say his mind absorbs new things like a sponge. Asher is deaf. He lives in a world of absolute silence.

Asher's adoptive parents had to take huntsville city schools to court to fight for his right to an education.

"The biggest thing I wanted out of the settlement agreement was to get him a deaf educator because he's spent the entire year without a deaf educator, without anybody who knows how to teach a deaf child," said Brown

She thought everything had been settled until Thursday afternoon when she learned the system had done away with his interpreter. Asher had sat in class for the last two weeks without anyone around who could communicate with him.

"So just right there in the middle of the meeting I started crying because that is his access to his language in the classroom," said Brown.

 

She learned the system no longer wanted to provide an interpreter. Asher would be left to sit in his silence unable to comprehend what was happening in class.

WHNT News 19's Al Whitaker spoke with school officials and they told him the problem has been taken care of. For the record, Spokesperson Keith Ward could only say "The district and the Special Ed Department's committed to seeing that all of the children's needs under their care are met."

We later learned plans are now in place to have an interpreter in Asher's room Monday morning.

"It was good news. They did say now that they would honor the IEP as it is written, so I am grateful for that. So we definitely appreciate that and we appreciate all that you've done to help us get to this point quickly," said Brown.

The law regarding special needs children is relatively simple, every child is guaranteed the right to an equal opportunity for an education. Every child.

Ryann Brown said that she has nothing but the highest of praise for the teachers and staff that work with the kids.

She said that her fight all along has been with a handful of people in the central office. Well she's not fighting alone anymore.

We're going to continue to monitor Asher's progress.

Ryann Brown promises she'll keep us informed of how things go and we'll update you as it's warranted.