News From 1963
The Cedar Valley Daily Times
Tuesday, February 26, 1963.
I.B.S.S.S. Not Under Commission for Blind.
"The Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School is in no way under the jurisdiction of the Iowa Commission for the Blind. It is governed by the State Board of Regents, which also governs the State University of Iowa, Iowa State University, the State College of Iowa, Oatedale Sanatorium and the Iowa School for the Deaf."
Superintendent Lee A. Iverson of the Vinton school made the statement today in commenting on a news story published yesterday.
The story discussed the House-approved bill to give the governor authority to appoint all three members to the state commission for the blind.
The story stated: "Position of those sponsoring the bill is that it is not in the best interests of the public to have as a commission member the, superintendent of the Vinton school which is under the jurisdiction of the commission."
Following are other paragraphs from the story: The bill passed the house over the protests of Rep. Fred L. Wright (R-Vinton) early in the session almost before he became acquainted with legislative procedures.
"I hardly had my feet on the ground," Wright explained. "It is my first year so I hardly knew what to expect. But I'm learning fast."
Wright Against Bill
Wright is against the bill because he feels it is an effort on the part of Kenneth Jernigan of Des Moines, director of the commission, to usurp some of the authority now given to Supt. Lee A. Iverson of the Vinton school.
As superintendent, Iverson is on the commission which sets the policies for Director Jernigan to carry out.
Once the bill cleared the house, Rep. Wright started working on friends in the senate to beat it there.
At present it is still in the hands of a subcommittee of the senate board of control committee which may or may not recommend it for passage to the full committee.
The subcommittee currently is considering an amendment to the bill which would restrict blind students that could be accepted by the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind in Des Moines to only those over 16 years of age.
This would prohibit the center from taking blind students who are enrolled in the braille and sight saving school at Vinton.
Wright said he favors the amendment if the bill is to be passed by the senate because he understands Director Jernigan would like to train high school aged students' at the Des Moines rehabilitation center. This would mean curtailing or shutting down the high school section of the Vinton school.
So much feeling has been generated quietly about the bill that the subcommittee which has it recently invited both Director Jernigan and Supt. Iverson to appear before it to explain their positions on it.
Also, it is known that the Lions club organization in Iowa has become interested in the bill as a service club which directs its main effort to helping blind people.
But even in the Lions clubs there is a split. The Vinton Lions club, of which Rep. Wright is a member, is unofficially against the bill. Others are unofficially for it.
Director Jernigan, blind himself since birth, has been serving in his present job since March of 1958 and has made many friends in the legislature during that period. This is one reason why the house passed the bill with little opposition except for that of Rep. Wright.
The Cedar Valley Daily Times
Thursday, April 4, 1963.
Says Jernigan Wants To Become Involved In Education of Blind
Kenneth Jernigan wants very badly to become involved in the education of visually handicapped children, and that is the real issue, rather than a personality conflict," Lee Iverson, superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School at Vinton, said today in reply to statements allegedly made by several members of the Senate Board of Control committee Monday.
However, the House - approved bill to remove the superintendent of the IBSSS as. a member of the State Commission for the Blind, failed to clear the committee Monday afternoon.
"Iverson, it seems to me, is the only man who has had any experience in blind education work." Sen. Robert 0. Burrows of Belle Plaine, a member of the Senate Board of Control Committee said.
Several committee members said the bill is largely the result of "a personality conflict" between Iverson and Jernigan, director of the commission.
"I don't see any reason to make any change at all in the commission's membership," Burrows added.
"All the talk is what great progress we've made in Iowa in rehabilitating the blind," Sen. Vern Lisle (R-Clarinda) observed, "and we've made it under the setup we've got now so why change it?"
Labels Personality Conflict
Sen. Richard L. Stephens (R-Ainsworth) declared "this is nothing but a personality conflict".
"One state employee has built up a hurricane, almost, to get the legislature to go the way he wants us to go," Stephens continued. "If I had a man like that working for me you know what would happen to him."
Sen. Joseph B. Flatt (R-Winterset) commented that "the purpose of the commission is to set broad policy."
"Do we want to change the commission or realign It with some other agency because of a personality conflict'"
Sen. J. Henry Lucken(R-Le Mars), committee chairman, said he had information that 24 states run their blind program under their boards of social welfare, nine have commissions for the blind, seven operate it under boards of public instruction and other states under some other agencies.
Not to Abolish Group
There have been suggestions that the Iowa commission be abolished and the blind program placed under the board of social welfare.
However, there did not seem to be very much sentiment for such a move in Monday's meeting even though Lucken pointed out that the 1933 Brookings Institution report and that of the 1950 legislative governmental reorganization committee both had recommended it.
Sen. Robwert R. Dodds (D-Danville) said as a member of three-man subcommittee with Lisle and Sen. Jacob Grimstead (R-Lake Mills), who was absent,'' he was ready to report the bill to the calendar for passage.
Others said they would go along provided it was amended to make sure the Commission for the Blind does not interfere with education of blind students at the Vinton school until after they are 16.
The Vinton school is under the state board of regents.
Decide to Defer Action
But the. committee finally decide to defer action: until next week.
Iverson is a member of the commission for the blind under the law because of his position. The other two members are appointed by the governor without regard to political affiliation.
The bill, passed 102 by the house Jan. 25, would give the governor the right to appoint all three members of the commission, but not more than two could be of the same political faith.
Iverson, in defending his position in regard to the "personality conflict," said today, "Jernigan wants very badly to become involved in the education of visually handicapped children. Since this service is already being adequately provided in the state by the IBSSS and the division of special education of the Department of Public Instruction, and since it is the function of the Commission to provide rehabilitation services for adults rather than education for children, I will not permit the Commission to become involved in the education, of children so long as I am a member of this governing board.
"This desire on the part of Mr. Jernigan to become involved in the education of children is the real issue, rather than a personality conflict."
The Cedar Valley Daily Times
Thursday, April 18, 1963.
Senate Passes Bill on Blind Administration
DES MOINES (UPI) — A long standing feud between heads of Iowa's two schools for training blind persons moved nearer settlement today.
The Iowa Senate passed a bill which would remove institution administrators from the Commission for the Blind.
The bill, approved 42-3 and returned to the House, provides that all three commission members be appointed by the Governor with Senate confirmation. No more than two could be from the same political party.
At present, the Governor appoints only two commissioners and the Superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School at Vinton automatically becomes the third member.
The bill also contains a section which would prohibit the rehabilitation center at Des Moines from providing academic training for persons 16 years of age and under. Such training would have to be provided at the Vinton school.
The Senate deferred action on the measure Wednesday after becoming embroiled in the controversy between the heads of the two institutions.
Sen. George Scott, R-West Union, charged that Kenneth Jernigan, director of the rehabilitation center at Des Moines, had used "state money and a state car" for lobbying activities between legislative sessions in behalf of a bill to reorganize the makeup of the state commission for the blind.
Jernigan is the commission's appointed director while Lee Iverson, superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving school at Vinton, is a member of the commission by reason of his superintendency.
Under present laws, the other two commissioners, Dr. A.R. Winter, a blind Fredericksburg chiropractor, and Mrs. Mary Louise Smith, Eagle Grove, are appointed by the governor.
Up for debate was a bill, allegedly backed by Jernigan, to remove the superintendent from automatic board membership and have the governor appoint all three members.
Iverson appeared before the senate's board of control committee Feb. 4 when a hearing was conducted on the house-passed measure. He discussed the conflict with Jernigan which he said resulted from "too many exaggerations, half-truths and bits of questionable information."
Before the senate deferred action on the bill to permit less controversial amendments to be drafted, Scott described Jernigan as an "ambitious man who couldn't get his own way all of the time."
"Iverson is a fine man and he didn't know this bill was going to be introduced. Why didn't Jernigan just go to Iverson and try to work out a solution?" Scott asked.
He said if Iverson was not a member of the board "then there might as well not be a board."
Sen. David 0. Shaff, R-Clinton, said with two centers for training the blind either the directors of both should be on the board—or neither of them should have membership. Shaff said the best approach would be to have neither on the board because it was not good policy to have an employee on a board that administers the institution for which he works.
Lt. Gov. W. L Mooty, R-Grundy Center, ruled out of order an amendment which would have limited training at the rehabilitation Center to persons' who are 16 years of age or older.