Teachers of Iowa Deaf Students Face Firing

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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) - The Iowa School for the Deaf has suspended two and could fire teachers with a combined 40 years’ experience. The teachers said they are shocked and question the motive and timing of the personnel action.

Despite a bad report card on their teaching techniques, Tina Murdoch and Tricia Tighe say they never failed their deaf students.

"Both of us put our heart and our soul into that school. We both were there on Sunday nights," said Murdoch. Though Iowa School for the Deaf renewed their contracts last summer, both teachers received termination notices about four months later.

Tighe said, 'I'm really upset. They gave me a contract I don't know why they're firing me.”

Tighe taught four special education students and Murdoch had a class of deaf fifth graders. Both teachers received similar letters recommending termination.

The letters contain a laundry list of at least two dozen reasons why administrators feel the teachers have short comings in the classroom; among the reasons school administrators cited failure to use methods to monitor student learning, failure to demonstrate competence in content and failure to enhance academic performance.

"After 25 years they're saying I'm not meeting teaching standards that I was meeting before. It does not make any sense," said Murdoch.

Tighe’s mid-semester suspension also caused elementary aged special education students to be moved into the high school.

That concerns one 7-year-old’s grandmother, Kitty Eisenhauer.

"She has a new teacher, a new building a new environment and she's in the with high schoolers, I don't really care for that," said Eisenhauer.

A regents spokesman said the second grade class is in the high school, but they’re in their own room with no high school students, except for a well supervised 45 minute period.

They are constantly supervised and safety is of primary concern. But Kitty says moving class after removing the teacher affects a special needs seven year old. She said, "Yes I have questions about why. Were there problems because I felt they were both great teachers."

The regents who oversee Iowa School for the Deaf won't comment on personnel matters. But two teachers say the recommended firings are a bad sign for the deaf students they taught.