News From 1972
The Cedar Valley Times
Wednesday, March 8, 1972.
Regents criticized for
including Jernigan in
Supt. selection process
By William Monroe
DESMOINES— .The Iowa Council of the Blind has criticized the State Board of Regents for including Iowa Commission, for the Blind and National Federation for the Blind Director Kenneth Jernigan in the selection process for choosing a new superintendent at the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School (IBSSS) in Vinton.
Dr Frank Rocco, the school's present superintendent, has resigned effective the end of this school year. The regents have formed a liaison committee and a professional advisory committee to aid in the selection process Jernigan has been appointed to both committees.
The advisory committee screens the applications of all candidates for the superintendency. The liaison committee, consisting of Jernigan, regents head Stanley Redeker of Boone and regent Ralph McCartney of Charles City, is designed to keep Jernigan informed of the superintendent selection process, according to Redeker.
The Iowa Council of the Blind was formed January 17, 1970 and has a membership of about 150 of Iowa's blind.
In a joint statement Issued today by Lyle Williams of Des Moines, (formerly of Vinton) legislative chairman for the Iowa Council, and Harold Carter, president of the Des Moines chapter, the council said the regents are "allowing the interests of a national organization and the personal ambitions of a commission director to virtually dictate selection policy."
The council statement said that both the regents and the commission director have made it quite clear that no applicant will be selected for the superintendency without Jernigan's approval.
A recent applicant for the position was turned down because he had been at odds with the National Federation for the Blind, of which Jernigan is also president, the statement said.
"An additional alarming factor in this conspiracy is the conspicuous absence of the Iowa Council of the Blind from the regent's liaison committee. How can any fair and impartial decision be reached in a matter of such grave concern to Iowa's blind when opportunity for continual dialogue and communication between all interested and involved groups has not been made possible?" the statement asked.
The council members cited a 1966 legislative decision that resulted in the removal of the IBSSS superintendent from the Iowa Commission for the Blind "to eliminate any interference in matters of policy between the school and the commission."
They also referred to an attempt by Jernigan to bring the school under the control of the commission in 1970. A bill to that effect was submitted to the Iowa legislature and sponsored by the House Majority Leader McCartney. The bill was later withdrawn after Governor Robert Ray intervened asking that the school remain under the control of the regents.
The council statement said the alliance between the regents and the commission constitutes a "moral conflict of interest" and that the council feels Jernigan is "totally unqualified to serve on any committees having to do with the selection of a superintendent—and the regents should take appropriate steps to rectify this wrong."
Referring to the council statement, Jernigan today said "I suppose it's understandable. They've got to be mad at somebody."
Jernigan said no one would view it as a conflict of interest if Gov. Robert Ray were appointed chairman of the National Governor's Conference, for instance. "It would be a feather in Iowa's cap," he observed.
Therefore, he said, he sees no conflict of interest in his serving on the selection committees
Jernigan disavowed any interest by his commission in controlling the Vinton school. "It is the job of the regents to make their own decision," he said, "and I've never known the regents to let anybody make such decisions for them."
Jernigan added "We have the best chance we've had in a dozen years of having the best man selected and having real cooperation among the regents, the commission and the blind."
Redeker told the Times today that the regents sought the consultation of numerous groups in the selection process including the Iowa Commission for the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind.
"It is important to point out the board at no time has delegated authority to make the selection," he said.
The regents meet at Cedar Falls in a regular monthly session Thursday and at IBSSS Friday. Their agenda shows executive sessions both days regarding the "IBSSS superintendent search."
The Cedar Valley Times
Monday, March 13, 1972
Parents critical of
TIMESNEWS — A member of the Parent Teachers Organization (PTO) of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School (IBSSS) met in executive session with the State Board of Regents Friday to discuss the process by which the regents are picking a successor to Dr. Frank Rocco, superintendent, who will resign this summer.
Clifford Boeson, a parent of an IBSSS student from Waterloo, met with the board behind closed doors late Friday afternoon as the regents wrapped up their monthly meeting in Palmer Hall on the IBSSS campus Before talking with the regents, Boeson told the Times what he had to say to the Board.
He said he was authorized by the PTO executive board to criticize the presence of Iowa Commission for the Blind Director Kenneth Jernigan on two committees instrumental in the superintendent selection process.
Jernigan is a member of a five-member professional advisory committee and is also part of a three-man liaison committee. The professional advisory committee screens all applications for the position. The liaison unit is designed to keep Jernigan informed of the selection process, according to Stanley Redeker, regents chairman.
The liaison committee is composed of Redeker, Jernigan and regent Ralph McCartney. McCartney supported a bill in the 1970 session of the Iowa legislature which would have put the Vinton school under control of the Iowa Commission for the Blind. That bill was withdrawn from consideration after Governor Robert Ray stepped in and requested that the school be left under the reins of the regents.
"Two years ago we stopped him (Jernigan) from coming in the front door and now we want to make sure he doesn't sneak in through the back-door," Boeson said.
He said the PTO believes Jernigan should have no part of schools funded by state and federal funds. Jernigan cannot divorce himself from the presidency of the National Federation for the Blind, he said. In addition, he argued that the regents should have included a representative from the Iowa Council of the Blind on the liaison committee.
Boeson said that if the current controversy continues, it will be the Iowa blind that suffer. He pointed to a split among the blind of the nation and the state with groups like the National Federation for the Blind and the American Council of the Blind at odds on a national level and the Iowa Commission for the Blind and the Iowa Council for the Blind fighting on the state level.
"We have no argument with Jernigan's rehabilitation program at the commission. But there is a big difference between rehabilitation and education," Boeson said.
"It is not right for one person to obtain cradle-to-grave control of the blind. Jernigan does not speak for all the blind of Iowa," he said.
He said the cooperation between the school and the University of Iowa hospitals (both regent-controlled institutions) would be lost if the commission should ever gain control of the school. Several members of the Iowa Council of the Blind also came to Vinton Friday for the regents meeting They told the Times that they were not interested in speaking to the regents, but were here only to listen to Boeson's remarks.
The PTO criticism came less than a week after the Iowa Council for the Blind also were publicly critical of the regents superintendent selection process. Several weeks before that, the IBSSS faculty and staff lodged a verbal protest over the inclusion of Jernigan on the two committees which prompted Redeker to visit the school and hold a two-hour meeting with staff members.
Redeker will be in Vinton March 29 to speak to the Vinton Lions Club on the selection process.
The Cedar Valley Times
March 21, 1972.
To the Editor:
I would like to answer two of Kenneth Jernigan's flippant remarks. Wednesday, March 8th, and also extend some of my remarks on Monday, March 13th. First, Mr. Jernigan makes a remark concerning the Council statement "I suppose it's understandable that they got to be, mad at somebody", referring to the council For The Blind.
After Mr, Jernigan's actions in 1970, the statement is the understatement of the century. He also states "he doubts if there would be a conflict of interests if Governor Ray, were appointed chairman to the Governors' Conference. It would be a feather in Iowa's cap." Now there cannot be an analogy drawn between Governor Ray and Kenneth Jernigan. Mr. Jernigan definitely has a selfish interest, as he demonstrated in 1970 when he tried to take over the IBSSS, and I doubt if Governor Ray would like to take over any other state. He has enough trouble in Iowa.
For Mr. Jernigan's information, there is a Scrap Book kept by the Council For The Blind that can prove every statement.
One thing I inadvertently left out, and since I have been active for the past nine years in coordinating the Vinton Ski Day (teaching the IBSSS students to ski by the Waterloo Waterhawks), I have known every superintendent since Mr. Overbeay very intimately. Messrs. Iverson, Walker and Hansen all told me that they left IBSSS because, of constant interference by Mr. Jernigan.
Last year when we were at a camping convention with the National Campers & Hikers Association at Brantford, Ontario, Canada, we took time out to visit the School For The Blind at Brantford. By the way, they were then completing a six and one half million dollar building project, authorized by Parliment. The superintendent graciously took us on a tour of the buildings as much as possible since school was not in session. This gentleman has visited every School For The Blind in the United States and knew every superintendent personally except Dr. Rocco, who was new on the administrative scene. He also attends all the conventions for the superintendents of blind schools in the United States.
As we finished the tour, he asked me if I knew Kenneth Jernigan. I answered "yes" and he said "that mam has furnished more good superintendet’s for the blind schools for
other states out of Iowa than any other single person." I smiled and said "just how do you mean this?" He said "by constant criticisms and disruption he drives them out of Iowa and other schools for the blind get the leadership of these men." I might add that with the exception of Mr. Hansen, who went to study of his Ph.D., the other three superintendets are still at the same positions since they left the braille school. Strange is it not that Mr. Jernigan's record is known in another country and we in Iowa are so blind. The superintendent in Brantford has been in that position for 15 years.
I also wish to explain my remark that the blind are split on a national level. This is due to the feud that Mr. Jernigan has developed between himself as president of the Federation for the Blind and Robert S. Bray of the Library of Congress. The Council for the Blind has decided to back Robert S. Bray, and rightly so. Mr. Jernigan is constantly bragging about the largest library of Congress he would have a sad selection of braille and talking books." Every book and record that my daughter receives from the Commission is labeled "Property of the U.S. Government, Library of Congress."
I might also add evidently hardly anyone could do anything right unless his name is Jernigan or unless he is in Mr. Jernigan's baliwick.
Clifford E. Boesen
The Cedar Valley Times
Thursday, June 15, 1972.
Suit also names commissioners
Jernigan charged with misuse of public funds.
By Bill Monroe
DES MOINES — Eighteen members of the Iowa Council of the Blind have filed a suit against Kenneth Jernigan, director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, and three commission members, charging them with misuse of public funds.
The 18 plaintiffs state that they are filing the suit as individuals and as representatives of the blind of Iowa The suit asks that the defendants be restrained from misuse of resources and funds of the Iowa Commission for the Blind for unlawful purposes.
"The defendants have committed funds and other resources of the Iowa Commission for the Blind to uses and purposes not provided in chapter 93 of the Code of Iowa or otherwise authorized by law," the suit says
The suit charges that state funds have been used to promote activities of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), a private organization, and its affiliates. Jernigan is also president of the NFB.
The suit also charges that funds have been used for "the private business and other interests of officials and employees of the Iowa Commission for the Blind "
It said the funds it charges have been improperly converted consist of both state and federal funds appropriated to the commission by the state and federal governments.
Other defendants named include Elwyn Hemken of Blairsburg, Mrs Wayne Bonnell of Fort Dodge and Mrs Thelma Johnson of Charles City.
Chief attorney for the plaintiff is Dan Johnston of Des Moines He is being assisted by Durward McDaniel of Washington, D. C.
"These matters have been under investigation for more than one year," McDaniel told the Times Thursday 'This is the only remedy under law that these plaintiffs have," he said.
The suit was filed in Polk County District Court in Des Moines Thursday morning.
Jernigan and the commission have been at odds with the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School here for a number of years. In 1966, a legislative decision removed the IBSSS superintendent from the commission to eliminate any interference in matters of policy between the school and the commission.
In 1970, Ralph McCartney of Charles City (who was then House Majority Leader and who is now on the State Board of Regents, introduced a bill to put IBSSS under commission control. Controversy over that measure boiled until Iowa Governor Robert Ray intervened, asking that the school remain under the control of the regents.
The most recent controversy involving Jernigan and the school concerned Jernigan's role in choosing a successor to Dr. Frank Rocco, IBSSS superintendent who is resigning this year. The Iowa Council of the Blind, formed in 1970, criticized the regents for involving Jernigan in the selection of the superintendent.
Jernigan, totally blind since birth, was appointed director of the commission in March of 1958.
The Cedar Valley Times
Thursday, July 6, 1972.
New IBSSS superintendent
Woodcock strives for IBSSS-Commission tie
By Bill Monroe
TIMESNEWS - Charles Woodcock, the new superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, is doing all that he can to see that a spirit of cooperation exists between the school and the Iowa Commission for the Blind in Des Moines, headed by Kenneth Jernigan. Woodcock has asked Jernigan to place a commission staff member on the IBSSS campus to help with assessing student needs to help prepare some students as clients for the Commission.
"The school and the Commission will work together if they are both working in the best interests of the blind citizens," he said "And they both seem to be doing that.”
“The role of the school is to prepare students to fit Into the Commission Program If that is to be the next step in their lives," he said.
Woodcock said the Commission staffer could help the IBSSS faculty and staff to determine "what really needs to be done" in the way of preparing students for the Commission.
"We will list the needs of each student In six basic areas- biological needs, vocational needs, avocational needs, social, emotional and educational needs. We will then list achievement objectives for each student in each area and design our program to meet their needs. After an evaluation of how well these needs have been met, we will devise a new set of objectives for remaining needs," he said.
Woodcock said the main objective of the school is "to be concerned with the blind person's next role in society".
DEFINES IBSSS ROLE
A number of members of the IBSSS faculty and staff are active in the Iowa Council of the Blind, a group formed in 1970 to oppose the Iowa Commission For the Blind. Woodcock said that opposition to other state agencies is not the role of the school. —
"Any staff member here working in opposition of another agency better be doing that on their own time rather than as a part of the school," he said. "That is not a role of this school to oppose the National Federation
of the Blind, the Commission, the Council, the governor or anybody else. Our role is to zero in on the education and needs of the students."
Achieving that goal will be a new challenge for Woodcock. As superintendent of the Oregon School for the Blind in Salem, Oregon, the post
He held before coming to Iowa, Woodcock was working with a program involving 65 students. An estimated 115 will enroll at IBSSS this fall.
The budget of the Iowa school is also about twice that of the Oregon school.
"The big challenge will be utilizing these resources in the most productive way," he said.
Woodcock said he is pleased with the physical facilities of the school and the human resources available. He said that no immediate changes will be made concerning the program, but that all aspects of the program will be under review.
The Cedar Valley Times
Thursday, July 6, 1972
CHICAGO (AP) — Kenneth Jernigan, director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, will serve another two-year term as president of the National Federation of the Blind.
Jernigan was re-elected Wednesday at the federation's conference here.
Cedar Valley Times
Monday, October 30, 1972.
Jernigan urges peace between blind centers
By Bill Monroe
TIMESNEWS. — Kenneth Jernigan came to the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School Friday to make peace. Jernigan, the head of the Iowa Commission for the Bline in Des Moines, called for a healing of wounds and a betterment of relations between the school and the commission.
The commission and the school have been engaged in a running battle for as long as anyone here seems to remember. This conflict has been attributed for the departure of several of the past half-dozen superintendents at the school. It has caused the creation of the Iowa Council for the Blind, a statewide organization formed specifically to oppose Jernigan and the commission. Members of the IBSSS staff were instrumental in forming the council and many still belong to it.
The most recent clash between the council and the commission came several months ago when, several council members filed suit against Jernigan, who is also president of the National Federation of the Blind, charging him with a misuse of public funds. That suit has yet to come to court.
But that was all before Charles Woodcock came to Iowa to assume the IBSSS Superintendency. Woodcock has worked to improve relationships with the commission. He has visited the commission and conferred with Jernigan there.
Friday, it was Jernigan's turn to return that visit. Friday afternoon, Jernigan spoke to the faculty and staff of the school. He explained the role, of the commission and how it related to the. role of the school. He indicated that Iowa Governor Robert Ray is also intent on seeing peace between the two institutions.
Jernigan said that at a meeting with the governor, Woodcock, board of regents head Stanley Redeker of Boone and himself, "the governor made it quite clear that the past should be left behind."
Jernigan called for more communication between the school and the commission "It is not necessary that we love one another but it would help," he said. "We each have a common goal—to aid the blind of Iowa."
It is necessary to avoid attacking each other, he said. This involves a two-way street and the commission would refrain from attacking the school, Jernigan said "I am hopeful about the future," he said.
"The commission now has a new and basic understanding with the regents, the school and with legislative leaders. The mood seems to be to not tolerate destructiveness."
The Cedar Valley Times
Friday, November 10, 1972
Judge rules in favor of Jernigan in suit
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Polk
County District Judge Leo Oxberger has ruled that Iowa State Commission for the Blind Director Kenneth Jernigan's role in the national organization is
“discretionary" and not subject to review by the courts.
Oxberger ruled Thursday that there is no conflict between Jernigan's role as director of the Iowa group and his presidency of the National Federation of the Blind.
The ruling came in a suit filed against Jernigan by 18 blind lowans. The suit claimed Jernigan has converted state funds for promotional activities for the national organization.
They said blind lowans are being deprived of services because of the time Jernigan spends working with the National Federation.
The judge said it is up to Jernigan and the commission how he spends his time to further the interests of blind people and that he "may permit employees of the commission to assist in the organizational activities of any private organization involved in furthering the interests of the Blind."
The blind people who filed the suit are members of the Iowa Council of the Blind.
Reacting to the ruling, the president of the National .Federation of the Blind of Iowa Sylvester Nemmers, said it "will help set in perspective the actions of the small handful of malcontents who have attempted to undermine and attack our programs."
Jernigan said many people familiar with the activities of the commission "have felt that the plaintiffs had no real case and perhaps were not really hoping so much to prove anything as to hurt and undermine by publicity."
He called Oxberger's ruling "fair" and "clear" and said most blind people and those who understand their problems will applaud it.
The attorney for the Iowa Council of the Blind, Dan Johnston of Des Moines, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Oxberger said there is no reason Jernigan cannot be president of the National Federation of the Blind and travel anywhere to promote and further its activities.
Iowa law, he said, gives the Iowa State Commission for the Blind broad authority to help blind people in the state and "it is not the duty of the court to tell the commission how best to aid the blind."
He said that it is a "political" question, not a justicable issue.