Parents call for answers about allegations teacher mocked deaf student in Phoenix

PHOENIX — Calling for action with a protest outside a Valley school.

A teacher was disciplined over allegations they mocked a student who is deaf at the Phoenix Day School for the Deaf.

On Monday, concerned parents and students gathered outside the school to rally.

“We want the superintendent, the board, or someone to tell us what’s going on or what happened with their investigation,” said Parent Amy Young.

Young, like many other parents of the school, claim one of the school’s teachers mocked a student who is deaf.

Video of the alleged incident surfaced on social media.

Parents say the teacher reacted to the student making sounds by saying the student sounded like a zoo animal.

“It makes me mad. It makes me sad,” said Young.

Marci Barenburg also has a child in the classroom and said, “It made me angry. It’s not okay to hurt these kids.”

Many parents are calling on the teacher to be fired.

ABC15 also spoke with Talitia Nevins, the mother of the student who was apparently mocked.

“I feel very broken. I love this school. I love this school. I know this place. (It’s) where kids should feel safe. But, kids don’t feel safe here,” said Nevins.

Nevins, through a translator, tells ABC15 this happened on November 4. She’s protesting after demanding answers from the teacher and superintendent.

“I want them to communicate with me. I want them to take action. This is serious,” added Nevins.

Maria Murphy, a spokesperson for the school, issued a statement on behalf of the superintendent:

As you know, videos on the social media platform TikTok have been circulating online and in our community. In these videos, parents speak about a student experience with a teacher at the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind (ASDB) – Phoenix Day School for the Deaf (PDSD). The videos have gained the attention of many in our community, as well as the local news media.

I want our families and community to know that our administration has conducted an investigation and issued disciplinary action, per ASDB policy. Because this is a personnel matter, we cannot share further details at this time.

What we can say is that we take this issue very seriously. We maintain high standards of professional conduct for our teachers and staff as they meet the diverse needs of our deaf, hard of hearing, blind, and visually impaired students. The safety and wellbeing of the students we serve is our number one priority.

If a student reports feeling emotionally or mentally unsafe for any reason, ASDB staff develop a safety plan for the child. The child can select counselors, teachers, or any trusted adult that they can go to for assistance. Counselors also work directly with the child to help teach them coping strategies and stress management techniques.

In the coming weeks, we will continue to engage our families about any concerns they may have about their children’s experiences at PDSD.

“I feel like it is a slap on the hand, that’s not nice, or stop, don’t say that, don’t do that. It’s okay. You can go after that,” added Nevins.

While Nevins says she feels the disciplinary action is only a slap on the wrist and says more needs to happen; she is hesitant to call for the teacher’s firing.

“That’s a strong word. But, more and more people are coming forward, so maybe she shouldn’t work here,” added Nevins.

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