SALT LAKE CITY — A task force examining the role and effectiveness of the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind presented its findings Friday, recommending the agency relocate to Salt Lake City and that its advisory council have a stronger role.
The State Board of Education formed the task force earlier this year.
Deputy State Superintendent Martell Menlove presented the task force's findings, which included a recommendation that the USDB superintendent's office should be moved from Ogden into the State Office of Education building in Salt Lake.
"It was the feeling of the task force that we needed to more closely pull USDB into the State Office of Education," Menlove said.
The task force all agreed on the value USDB brings to the state's children who have sensory disabilities, Menlove said, and only made recommendations they felt would improve the schools.
USDB doesn't have a school board like other schools, but instead is under the direction of an advisory council that is appointed by the state board.
The task force recommended the advisory council could have a stronger role in advising the USDB superintendent and other administration than it currently does.
The task force also suggested loosening the qualifications advisory council members must have. Currently, two members must be deaf, two must be blind and two must either be deaf and blind or the parent of a deaf and blind student, Menlove said. The report states that experts in the field of sensory disabilities could also serve a constructive role even if they don't have the disabilities themselves.
Philippe Montalette, president of the Utah Association for the Deaf, said through an interpreter that the council needs to have the perspective of deaf people in order to be effective.
"We as members of the deaf community, we went through the system. We are these children grown up," he said.
Montalette said he can't agree with many of the task force's recommendations because they never sought out the perspective of people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
"The task force was all hearing. They didn't represent the deaf community," he said. "It's based on a biased understanding of what deafness is."
The state board didn't take any action on the report but plans to further study it and make recommendations.