Feb 21

New York State’s “4201” Schools at RISK!

In past couple weeks, I’ve spent so much of my time, energy, & effort to fight against our Governor Andrew Cuomo’s latest budget proposal. In his proposal, he’s asking us to abandon 193 years old law and relinquish sanction in schools of Deaf, Blind, and Physically Handicapped over to local school districts.

More information can be found at http://www.deafnyaction.org/

Below is a sample of template letter I’ve put down together and thought you all would want to copy (edit) before sending it to Governor Cuomo and your assembly members along with your state Senators.  Not only limited to these people, but as well to Senator Kristen Gillibrand and Senator Chuck Schumer too. (Practically, everyone you can think of.)


Sean’s template about 4201 school issue

[Template begins…]

Senator David Carlucci
District Office
95 South Middletown Road
Nanuet, NY 10954
United States

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dear Senator Carlucci:

I applaud Governor Cuomo’s efforts to balance the state budget and restore New York’s reputation as the finest state in the nation.  However, his proposal regarding 4201 schools (Schools for the Deaf, Blind, and Physically Handicapped in New York State) is ill-advised and will have serious, far-reaching consequences that are not optimal.

As a Deaf father of a Deaf son, I strongly oppose Governor Cuomo’s proposal. My son will enroll at the New York School for the Deaf, or as it is more commonly known, Fanwood.  Governor Cuomo’s proposal will deny my son an education that provides full, complete access.

Governor Cuomo’s proposal is misguided because he is asking the state to undo its 193-year commitment to providing financial support to 11 crucial schools serving Deaf, Blind, and physically disabled people across the state. Although it may not be intentional, the proposed plan will require school districts to bear the costs of paying tuition and support services for Deaf students within their districts.  As is true in many other states, New York’s local school districts are already struggling with budgetary issues. With this proposal, school districts may, for financial reasons, opt to retain Deaf students within the district instead of allowing Deaf students to attend a state Deaf school.

The people of New York decided to ratify this law, New York State Education Law, Article 85, Section (§4201), to provide children who were Deaf, Blind or disabled with an appropriate learning environment. Eight out of the eleven schools for Deaf students provide inclusive single language instruction in American Sign Language, and have been the appropriate learning environments for thousands of Deaf students. These schools are equipped, and qualified, to provide appropriate, accessible environments that most, if not all, school districts cannot provide within their own schools.


  • The proposed budget claims $84 million in savings.  In reality, there will be no savings. Rather, the costs will shift from the state to local school districts that are already greatly burdened by financial challenges.
  • To cause the closure of a state school for Deaf students simply to relinquish the responsibilities to local school districts is not a cost-saving measure. The costs to adequately serve each Deaf and hard of hearing child in the child’s respective school district far exceed the costs of sending that same child to a school for the Deaf.
  • Schools for the Deaf are a centralized resource of qualified teachers and staff with the necessary, and fundamental, skills to communicate effectively with Deaf and hard of hearing children. The vast majority of school districts do not have any or adequate staff knowledgeable about educating, or communicating with Deaf and hard of hearing children. Many also do not have anywhere near the fluency in ASL and other communication options that staff at Deaf schools do.
  • The closure of any school for Deaf students due to a lack of enrollment as a result of local school districts refusing to send Deaf students to state schools will force Deaf and hard of hearing students to be denied full access to the educational curriculum and to peers with whom they can communicate.  The lack of direct access to the educational curriculum will, as shown in history repeatedly, set Deaf and hard of hearing students terribly behind their hearing peers. Additionally, forcing Deaf students to attend local schools instead of state schools will guarantee that Deaf children are isolated in school without teachers and peers who can directly communicate with them.
  • To cut the state funding to each school for the Deaf eliminates a continuum option that is federally mandated under the IDEA. This option is often the only educational placement appropriate for many Deaf and hard of hearing children in each state. Litigation against the school districts for failure to provide free appropriate public education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act would wipe out any perceived savings.
  • Closure is not the only threat. Cuts in funding to schools for the Deaf require the schools to make decisions that severely compromise the students’ educational needs.
  • Deaf and hard of hearing children need to be assessed by qualified educational staff with experience and training in specific assessment tools and techniques required for Deaf and hard of hearing students as mandated by law.  Most school districts do not have staff qualified or fluent in ASL to assess Deaf and hard of hearing students.
  • School districts are already facing financial cutbacks, yet are expected to provide resources to serve Deaf and hard of hearing students in their districts. Such financial pressures will lead to inappropriate and lacking educational services for Deaf and hard of hearing children.
  • The proposal will result in the loss of a significant number of jobs across the state.

I am asking you for your support in persuading Governor Cuomo to withdraw his proposal on New York State Education Law, Article 85, Section (§4201) before March 2nd. As a Deaf father who attended a state school for Deaf students, I know firsthand the importance and need for a state school. I want the same opportunities I received to be given to my son, and thousands of other Deaf children in New York.



Sean Gerlis
Board Member, National Association of the Deaf
West Nyack, NY
[personal e-mail address]
[phone number]

May 07

It’s not too late.


Mar 23

If I could do this, so you can too!


Fighting for H.R. 3101 battle, come and join to win this battle!

Feb 13

Bashing NAD – Good Idea?


Jan 07

Deaf PhDs?

Deaf PhDs?


Recently, I attended a party. I was in a room filled with Deaf Ph.Ds, it was awkward feeling but at the same time; it was thrilling experience.

It is amazing to see how much Deaf members of the community evolved in last 30 years. I wonder will they (Deaf PhDs) ever put a good use to their credentials?

Will they start to write articles, books, informative group sessions to promote the awareness of Deaf Culture, ASL as language, Early invention for Deaf children, How would medical industry are trying to do with our children, Accessibility, and much more and to publish their work?

The more they do this, the more hearing people will look up their work as their sources. Their work will raise the bar in the society onto perception on Deaf Culture, Deaf Community, and Deaf People.

This will make huge impact how they (hearing) evaluate, teach, refer the parents of Deaf Children into the world of knowledge with Deaf Children. These hearing professionals will use our Deaf professionals’ work as their credible sources.

Now, it is the time for everyone to look up any references about Deaf issues (medical, culture {language, customs, norms, & values}, education, sociology, etc.) with accurate resources built by our DEAF DOCTORATES.

Now, I ask you, you (specific Deaf ppl) with PhDs, will you use your credentials to promote our community into next level?

Sep 06

Aguabo / FDA: CI Stats – Dropout rates?

Sep 01

Internet Captioning & HR. 3101


Please, I implore you – contact your Councilmen, Councilwomen, Mayor, Governor, Congressman, & Senators and urge them to support HR.3101 bill

It’s our future, please spread this to everyone!

Aug 10

Free membership? No such a thing!

Mar 23

They did it, why can’t we do the same??

Yo yo yo!!!  I can’t do the vlog this time. I’ll shoot the blog part here now.

I was surfing thru the net, reading articles about Democrat’s competition for the primaries. I came to this article from Los Angeles times, “Talking about race: Um, you first” written By Stephanie Simon and Richard Fausset, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers on March 23rd, 2008.

I was reading the article about the racial issue being imposed on Barack Obama when he said this, “Sen. Barack Obama declared that whites must understand the black experience in America and blacks must appreciate the white perspective. Otherwise, he said, we face a grinding “racial stalemate.”” during one his address speech. (Ouch, that stings, eh?)

Regardless of that quote, It made me think about the issues between sexism vs. racism (ie: Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama), and I wouldn’t go there. But I want to discuss about other quote also came from this article.

“This is a very good time to put everything on the table,” said Abdullah Robinson, 64, a black man who lives in suburban Atlanta. “We don’t know nothing about each other, and we’ve been living together for hundreds of years.”

The immediate thought popped in my head when I read the comment from Abdullah Robinson was us; Deaf in our Deaf Community. Abdullah’s comments made me think how the black people lived together for so long time and continues help each other when they do not know each other. That does really apply us, Deaf in our community, Deaf Community.  We have been living around here for looooooonnnggg time!!!  I do not remember when we actually came together and fight the common cause (except DPN, mind you… 😉 I’m talking about, ASL taught as a language in elementary schools, hearing aids being covered in health insurance, communication access, and many more…)

Again, we have been around here for looooooooonnnnggg time and yet we notice we do bicker each other & pull ourselves down! What I meant this: Deaf, deaf, ASL user, CODA, Lip-Reader, ALDA, Oralist, Cued Speech, Rochester-Methodist, Cochlear-Implant users, and many many more who continues keep everyone of us separate from the collective as “Deaf COMMUNITY”!

C’mon, don’t fool yourself. Tell us, when was the last time you helped someone other than your own personal need to protect the Deaf community?

I ‘d like to share something; someone mentioned this to me while I was at a conference. A few deaf employees (Let’s label them employee A, B, C, and D) worked in same place, their boss decided to give this specific employee (employee “A”) a hard time. Boss decided to treat this employee “A” crap by requesting unnecessary duties. It has gotten out of the control, employee “B”, “C”, and “D” didn’t like what has been happening with employee “A”. They decided to turn their faces away. Employee “A” kept asking for help from their peers to advice what to do with this disgruntled boss. No one helped. That boss decided to give this employee “A” a boot. Bye bye! Ex-employee “A” lost their income. Employee “B” was next victim.  Employees “C” and  “D” did nothing. And I’m pretty sure you know what happened next.

What the heck? Why could employee “B, C, and D” file a report to their upper management about this situation? Surely, the company cannot have that stupid boss fire all four employees “A-D” based on their disability. Why didn’t they help that Employee “A” (and now to “B”) in the first place? They were afraid to lose their job!

*Gasp*! I’m sure you share the similar sentimental with me, “GASP!”

Will you help these employees??? Even though you don’t know these people, right?? (*ahem*, I have a hard time believing you would.)

We need to step out of our shells and help other people to protect the integrity of Deaf Culture.

Get out, and help others!


p.s. The article is located at this address: http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-divide23mar23,0,6014444.story

Feb 08

Suggestion for NAD


President Scoggins & NAD Board,

Beautiful!! Well written letter!!!

Since AGBell had posted their public letter to PepsiCo at their website, they made quite contemning ASL users. Surely enough, they (AGBell & PepsiCo) heard a lot of comments from the ASL Community against their public letter to PepsiCo, AGBell suddenly removed their public letter from their website.

I wonder, will NAD going to write another letter, asking AGBell is going to retract their public letter to PepsiCo and the community publicly?

We need to make sure AGBell publicly retract their message to ASL community and everyone else (including PepsiCo) for their untruly actions toward ASL community.

We do not want AGBell just to remove their letter and did nothing afterwards. This action itself implies their (AGBells) intent still stand.

If we allow AGBell do nothing further after removing their public letter from their website, we are allowing AGBell win over us in this issue because they are actually pretending we are insignificant group of people. They are actually continuing to promote the negativeness attitude toward ASL. This issue with PepsiCo (the letter) still continues to linger in our community. The community will believe AGBell still stand on their ground regardless our responses to AGBell/PepsiCo.

So, I may suggest NAD to consider and draft another letter encouraging AGBell to write a retract letter to PepsiCo and the community.

Well written letter, and GREAT Vlog!!!

Respectfully submitted,

-Sean Gerlis

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