Monday December 16, 1985

Cedar Valley Times,
Monday December 16, 1985.

DeMott comes out against report's findings, says he's being pressured by regents’ staff.

IBSSS boss told to keep opinions to himself

Times Editor

VINTON — The preliminary study on the proposed merger of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School with the Iowa School for the Deaf is out and it told local officials exactly what they had expected to hear.

     The report, issued today at l p.m. said that it is "feasible" to combine the two special schools at the Council Bluffs facility.

     Dr Richard DeMott, superintendent at the Braille school in Vinton and a member of the five-person task force, disagrees with the findings of the report and questions its validity.

     "I objected," DeMott said today "I do not agree with that conclusion and I so indicated to the committee"

     DeMott is going public with his opinions for the first time since the merger of the two schools was proposed, and he is feeling a "subtle type of intimidation" by staff members of the board of regents.

     "Yes, a subtle type of intimidation is taking place," DeMott said "Among my friends, I am being warned to keep out of the public eye because action may be taken against me or the school, particularly if these comments do not agree with the task force report.

     "I have been told bluntly, I had a message delivered to me, not to talk to the press," said DeMott "I was told that if 1 had an opinion about the conclusions of the report that they should be consistent with the report. When I objected, I was, lectured and accusations were made about my integrity and position on the committee.

     "To be very honest, it's scary DeMott said, "and by saying this to you I don't know what will happen."

     Rep. Kyle Hummel (R-Vinton) told a Vinton delegation of nine people last Friday that pressure was being applied on DeMott to conform his views to the findings of the report.

     In a Friday morning gathering in the state capitol before meeting with Gov. Terry Branstad, Hummel said pressure was being applied to DeMott to "be a good state employee" and "to keep his nose out of it."

     DeMott and four other persons were appointed to the special task force in November of this year by R Wayne Riehey, executive secretary of the Board of Regents. Other members of the study group are Robert Barak, Douglas True, Charles Wright, and C Joseph Giangreco, superintendent of the Iowa School for the Deaf.

     Members of the task force met four limes, including one meeting before they had been approved by the board. The first meeting took place Wednesday, Nov 20, at 7:30 p.m. nearly two weeks before Branstad announced his proposed merger of the two schools. Other meetings were held Dec 9 in Council Bluffs, Dec 10 m Council Bluffs, and Dec 12 at the Braille school in Vinton.

     Members of the Vinton "Save Our School" special action committee have stated the report to the regents would be highly contrived, an opinion shared by DeMott and others.

     I personally believe that the report, how do I say this, merely justifies a predetermined conclusion," said DeMott.

     DeMott also said that Giangreco objected to the findings of the report, as did four staff members at the Braille school who participated in session of the task force.“

     If feasible means anything is possible, then yes,” DeMott said, the report is accurate "But do the facts support the plausibility of the merger?  Then no. they do not.”

     The two populations are very different and very distinct and the physical facilities have been developed to accommodate their special populations." DeMott said.

     DeMott added "to my knowledge" no minutes of the task force meetings were kept, and that legal and financial findings written in the report "were developed externally" by the Board of Regents' office staff, and not at any meetings of the task force If there were minutes taken, we never saw them," DeMott said "In our meetings, we toured the facilities and discussed if they would accommodate the two different populations and the overwhelming opinion of the school persons was no, that they would not."

     The report will now go before the Board of Regents for its meeting this Wednesday and Thursday, Dec 18 and 19, in Ames. Asked if he would voice his thought about the report at that meeting, DeMott said, "If given an opportunity, I will."



Cedar Valley Times,
Monday December 16, 1985

Merger feasible by 1987 says report by task force

Iowa Newspaper Association


DES MOINES — The Iowa Newspaper Association has learned that a preliminary study by a task force of the Board of Regents indicates that it is feasible to combine the Iowa School for the Deaf and the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School at Council Bluffs, but not at Vinton.

     The upfront cost of combining the two schools, based on preliminary estimates, will be approximately $2.1 million for the renovation and alteration of the facility at Council Bluffs, plus another $1 million in one-year operating costs.

     The savings of $1 million a year in operating costs is projected by combining the two programs.

     According to reliable sources, the report by the task force is predicated on two completely different programs at the Council Bluffs facility. Dormitories would even be operated separately.

     The task force is expected to recommend to the Board of Regents that its feasibility study be continued. Sources emphasize that the decision at this time is a preliminary one and a final recommendation would not be made until after the next phase of the study is complete.

     The next phase will be a very detailed study of exactly how the program at Vinton's Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School would fit in at  the facility in Council Bluffs.

     The earliest that the consolidation could take place, if approved, would be for the fall of 1987.

     As an alternative use of the Vinton facility, the task force recommended a correctional facility for persons convicted of drunk driving.  Although the task force considered a facility to house 200 people, it found that as many as 400 could be housed at the Vinton institution.

     Members of the task force are Robert Barak, Douglas True, Charles Wright. ISD Supt. C Joseph Giangreco, and IBSSS Supt. Dr. Richard DeMott.