Friday December 20, 1985

Cedar Valley Times,
Friday December 20, 1985

Rep. Hummel upset with regents; backs Anthony's presentation

Times Editor


VINTON — Rep. Kyle Hummel is none too happy with the performance of the State Board of Regents during an emotionally-charged hearing Thursday on the proposed merger of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School with the Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs.

    Today, the Vinton Republican said the regents "are not infallible" and "the people of Iowa have been put on notice" that the regents are not open to criticism.

     A preliminary report commissioned by the regents and issued Dec 13 states the merger, as proposed Dec 3 by Gov. Terry Branstad, is "feasible". That report came under heavy attack yesterday morning by Dr. S.L. Anthony, a Vinton physician and member of this community's "Save Our School" committee.

     Anthony called the report "an insult to one's intelligence" and lacking "academic integrity." He also charged the regents with allowing "academics to be put back into politics."

     Regent Charles Duchen of Des Moines interrupted Anthony, said his presentation was "insulting to my intelligence," then got up and left the room. Regent John Grieg of Estherville followed suit and told Anthony that his comments were not appreciated.

     Hummel believes the regents acted poorly and not in the best interests of a responsible government agency. "1 am concerned the Board of Regents would not be open to criticism, that they would cut Dr. Anthony off, for all practical purposes, in the middle of his presentation and not listen to his report.

     They (regents) are not infallible, their staff is not infallible, and I don't think their behavior speaks well of a government agency, said Hummel. "They have an obligation, a responsibility to listen to the citizens of Iowa."

     Anthony, in an interview this morning, said his intention was to simply question the integrity of the task force report that had been poorly prepared.

     "I was astounded when they (Duchen and Grieg) walked out," said Anthony "I wasn't making any remarks about them personally I did not question their integrity or their honesty I questioned the integrity and honesty of the preliminary report.”

     "It was a sloppy report.' Anthony reiterated today, one that had been compiled by the task force "without consulting any experts.

     Dr Richard DeMott superintendent of the IBSSS and one of five members on the task force committee appointed by R Wayne Richey executive secretary for the board of regents, disagreed with the preliminary report’s conclusion. And he too raised several questions yesterday before the regents about the thoroughness of the report.

     Anthony said the task force had contacted only one of 16 experts whose names were supplied by the Vinton "Save Our School committee, and DeMott said the study was initiated by people without expertise and without knowledge of the educational aspects of the merger.

     Hummel said the regents should listen to such criticisms. "The people of Iowa are not all well trained in the finer aspects of protocol,” Hummel said "They speak from their hearts and they speak with conviction. They should not be refused the ear of those people in government who are making policy decisions.

     "In that context. I think they (the regents) did an injustice to the citizens of Vinton and to Dr. Anthony's presentation,” said Hummel “I felt we were intimidated I think the regents effectively told us and the rest of the state “Don't come before us and tell us we're doing a bad job.” That was less than professional for them.

     "I don’t want to have government by intimidation.” Hummel continued "I don't want any person in this state to feel embarrassed for criticizing a report. Dr. Anthony was saying politics may be involved and if it is this should be studied I don’t think it's reasonable to kill the bearer of bad news

     1f select members of the regents were upset with Dr. Anthony's presentation – not all expressed a displeasure - then they may react similarly when reading a written response prepared by the S.O.S. committee to the preliminary feasibility report.

     The response, authored by the committee’s chairman Morris Eckhart, states, “The deficiencies in the study are numerous and obvious and further requests the regents to "reject" the task force report and "defeat the proposal to combine the 1BSSS and ISD.”

     The regents, however, voted unanimously yesterday to continue the study.

     The response further states, "The Preliminary Feasibility Report is so vague, indefinite, and inconclusive that it is invalid. It is very clear from the report that there has been no detailed analysis as to the actual educational, economic, social and psychological impacts there would be in a consolidation of IBSSS and ISD.”

     The response also slates. "the task force did not perform the type of detailed study which needs to be performed before the Board of Regents, the governor and the legislature can make an informed and intelligent decision based on the issues involved

     "One would expect and reasonably demand that any serious study of a significant educational issue which will affect the lives of many people would have the highest degree of scholarship and be well documented," Eckhart's response said 'Such scholarship and documentation are lacking" in the task force report.

     Eckhart wrote that it would be "totally inappropriate" for the regents to take a position concerning the merger "without a detailed exploration of all the alternatives available " Eckhart listed three alternatives maintaining IBSSS and ISD as two separate facilities, expanding the student population at IBSSS by allowing multiply handicapped children who are not visually impaired to be educated there, and utilizing IBSSS to a greater extent as a teaching experience for practicum students and educators engaged in the education of severely and profoundly handicapped children.