National Federation of the Blind investigating complaints leveled at the school by blind students

The President of the National Federation of the Blind, Marc Maurer, said today, “The blind intend to protest the irresponsible, uncaring behavior of certain school board members” at a public meeting of the Board of Regents of the New Mexico School for the Visually Handicapped (NMSVH) in Alamogordo, New Mexico, at 8:00 a.m. Friday, May 31, 1996. Recently, officials of the National Federation of the Blind have been investigating complaints leveled at the school by blind students, former students, and parents of blind children. Several of the complainants filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, May 14, 1996, charging officials of the school with neglect and abuse of students.

“We believe that many of the allegations of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and neglect have substance,” said Maurer. “Last week we asked to have the opportunity for the blind to express our views to the board, but the chairperson of the board ruled that the views of the blind were out of order. She threatened to have us ejected from the room for stating our beliefs and telling what we know. But we are going back, and we intend to be heard.”

School board officials have indicated that business at the school will be conducted as usual and that the board plans to hire administrators at the school without offering the blind an opportunity to express an opinion before the decision is made.

Maurer said, “Not only will we tell the board what we know of the abusive practices that have caused harm to the students, but we intend to demand that board members who have served for decades without providing proper supervision to the school resign their positions immediately. We believe that the views of blind people should be considered in selecting the administrators of the school. Failing to listen to the blind and to the parents of blind children is simply one further indication of the callous disregard for fairness that is part of the pattern at the school.

“There will be more than a hundred representatives of the National Federation of the Blind, students from the school, former students, parents of blind children, and concerned blind citizens at the meeting.”

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The National Federation of the Blind has more than 50,000 members and is the nation’s oldest and largest organization of blind persons. Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, the Federation has chapters in every state and almost every community of any size in the nation. The Federation is not a government organization but is the voice of blind consumers. One of its principal functions is to be a watchdog concerning the policies and activities of governmental and private agencies providing services to the blind. For further information contact Marc Maurer, President, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, Telephone (410) 659-9314.

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