Minutes From Today’s Meeting

11 01 2008

Emergency Meeting took place at the amphitheatre on January 11, 2006 2008 at 2 pm

Bridgetta Bourne-Firl opened the meeting saying she knows we all are scared and what Jack O’Connell said on the radio was scary. When reading the transcript of the interview with Jack O’Connell, we do not know exactly what he meant however; we do know that it is scary.

Bridgetta quoted Jack O’Connell’s two points that has the community wanting to take action and the two things were 1) “I guarantee you that deaf and blind kids will GO home” and 2) “I guarantee you that teachers will be laid off” and his guarantee is based on the budget cut that California State is looking into.

Bridgetta then gave the floor to David Eberwein explaining the “Game Plan” for this situation.

When David got on the floor, he said he was shocked. When he first read the transcript, he was shocked then filled with fear and thought of his home, job and nearly panicked. But then, he allowed himself some time to think some more and calm down. He realized, after analyzing, that we must take action. He explained that the budget cut is happening because everyone wants money and does not want to be the one that’ll experience the cut. They want someone else to get cut, “not me.”

David then explained that Jack O’Connell must have said it for a reason and there could be two reasons. He presented a chart through a whiteboard on an easel stand. David said Jack’s motive could be either seriously closing the school or about politics.

But first, he wanted to emphasize that CSD is home and what does Jack mean, send the kids home as of send them to CSD? Everyone cheered and agreed. CSD is home to everyone, it always has been home for generations and it will be home for the future generations to come. Therefore, CSD has to STAY open.

David then explained his chart on the whiteboard, which were split between A and B explaining Jack’s possible “tactics” when making his guarantees.

Possible Reason A, CSD will close for real but we cannot allow this to happen. The world watches CSD and if we fight and win, we will help everyone involved in the Deaf community. He emphasized that we must protect our home and stick a huge flag into the ground and put a claim on our property- a claim where CSD is here to stay.

David mentioned the transcript part where Jack O’Connell says 20,000 prisoners shouldn’t be freed, and that the public school would keep their budget however, the deaf and blind school will lose theirs. David expressed his indignance that CSD is considered less than the prisoners and that we must object to this type of priorities set by Jack O’Connell.

Continuing his discussion on Reason A, he said we must be prepared to protect ourselves by knowing all possible argument points made by the opposing side. Such as, the opposing side could mention how the Deaf students rate low on test scores therefore, CSD is not effective and not worth keeping. He then switched to Reason B.

Reason B, according to Jack O’Connell’s possible tactics, is politics. Jack possibly said it in the interview to “save” us. Within these tactics, we must act by getting the media involved, have the public aware and show our objections to the legislature and show them that CSD is number one. We have to convince them that we are not less than the prisoners and not less than the public education.

For either Reason A or Reason B, we must have the same action plan and that would be, act NOW. We could hire a professional PR company, hired by the Deaf community, not by CSD. We need to have our objections heard and seen through the news, newspaper, radio and any other means. David mentioned that this is simply a suggestion, but he thinks we should do this.

David said we must have community action even though it may happen a year from now, we need to use this early time frame as an opportunity to start strong with the main goal to show that CSD cannot be touched because it is a banner school!

David wrapped up by saying O’Connell may have had two possible meanings and they are 1) to actually close the school or 2) used his tactics because he trusts in us, a strong community, to fight back and win.

David asked Cat Cassidy to take the floor and explain the people at the rally about what they can do RIGHT now.

Cat Cassidy took the floor. She explained that after the meeting, the rally goers can call Jack O’Connell’s office at this number, 916-319-0800.

She explained the steps:
1) You will reach the CDE
2) Ask for Jack O’Connell or to be transferred to his office
3) If he is not there, ask to leave a message
4) When leaving your message, say you have a Deaf child, or a Deaf relative, or you are a community member and/or alumnae, and to express your concerns about Jack O’Connell’s comments/apparent threat.

Cat emphasized that you shouldn’t call as a teacher or as a staff member, because it would cheapen the purpose of your objections, since they could argue that you just want to keep your job. Our main goal is to object for the sake of our children’s future.

Another thing we could do, Cat added, was to spread the word and have the friends and all stakeholders make the calls as well. Be active and make sure everyone is actively involved.

Cat Cassidy gave the floor to Bridgetta Bourne-Firl. Bridgetta opened the forum by saying there would be ten minutes for the public to come and discuss or express concerns or to ask questions.

Person # 1 asked if anybody has personally talked with Jack O’Connell to ask him for clarification?

Bridgetta wanted to know if she meant a parent, a community member or someone officially from the school? Person # 1 clarified and wanted to know if anyone from the school has asked O’Connell. It was explained that no employees from CSD are allowed to do that, since we are subordinate to the California Department of Education.

Person # 2 said it does not matter if Jack’s words was a political motive, it’s an insult that CSD is a target and something for him to “demean.” Person # 2 also added that she remember years ago California state ran out of funds and were unable to pay state employees. She recalled that the state employees actually had gotten “iou” checks. However, CSD employees were not affected because CSD is written into the state constitution. She wishes to know how this type of information would be of help in this current situation?

Person # 3 came up to explain that CSD is indeed written into the constitution, as each state is required to have a Deaf residential program. She then explained that CSD is not the only Deaf school in California, therefore, the closing of CSD can happen. She then added that we should not focus on the ‘closing of CSD,’ but rather, focus on taking action plans now to show that nobody can mess with CSD and our community.

Person # 4 came up and said we need to make sure we are calm and not blow things out of proportion. We need to take action, but not to lose our heads.

David Eberwein got up to explain that we still need to take action plan to protect ourselves and to make it clear that this school cannot be touched.

Person # 5 came up and shared that he read through the Argus news that Prop 98 is supposed to protect the school and should not cut the budget. He also said there would be a final budget decision next Thursday. (it was unclear whether this meant that the governor’s proposal would be final or if the Legislature would have made a final vote)

David Eberwein then said we have to investigate that over the weekend to check it out.

Person # 6 came to make an emphasis that we have to say we are taking action plan as a community member, not as staff or teachers because CDE is strict about this type of thing, because CDE employees shouldn’t be “speaking against CDE” or taking action during work hours.

Person # 7 wanted to start now with vlogs saying it would spread the word faster that way and the wider range of community will know what is happening. Person # 7 expressed concern that the number of people at the rally was small, it has to be bigger than this to be effective.

David Eberwein said the main thing now is to just to do it, take action now and that we need to have the same ‘sign’ points to be on the same page. He also added that the comments made by Jack O’Connell were wrong.

Person # 8 discussed two things; first she thinks we should involve other Deaf organizations such as CAD and DCARA to make this stronger. Then she added that when finding out and sharing with her friends, a lot of them said “oh this has happened before” and she’s concerned that people will think we are crying wolf. We need to make sure that those people know that it’s for REAL.

Person # 9 said we shouldn’t limit to Deaf community only, we should involve the entire community of Fremont because CSD is one of the largest facility that has the highest number of employees. If closing the school, it will greatly affect the community, business and the city in general.

Person # 10 wanted to point out person # 8’s “cry wolf” comments. He said CSD has had threats and CSD fought them and won. It’s not like we cried wolf, it has actually happened. So this situation isn’t “crying wolf.”

Person # 11 said he’s going to Sacramento tomorrow for a regional meeting. He said he tried having some of his friends join but some made excuses such as, oh I have a football game, etc. He said to go tomorrow, to watch and listen and make clarifications if needed. We need to have more people involved for a louder voice.

Person # 12 said we have to act now and fight now like the Civil Rights movement. If something racial was said, it’d be immediately brought to attention and actions would be taken in an instant. She said we need to treat this situation like that.

Bridgetta had to stop the open forum and Cat Cassidy wrapped up by explaining what could be done. To call Jack O’Connell, to forward everyone in the community the transcript of the interview made by Jack O’Connell and asked everyone to go to the APTC meeting on Tuesday to discuss further for parental involvement and a possible establishment of the Task Force. Several people then gathered to follow through on some of the suggestions made above, including this website.

shared by Clare Cassidy, alumni, parent, and community member




12 responses

12 01 2008
Barb DiGi

Jack O’Connell ought to pack his sack and get back to his home! How can it be that Jack made a quack at CSD that is known as one of the top schools in America ? This threat should not even been happening! He is out of his mind. He will definitely get a call from me!

David Eberwein made excellent points and I know that he along with the Deaf community will fight so well to provoke Jack’s proposal. Go get ’em, tiger!

12 01 2008
Deb Ann

Keep us in a loop, please!

12 01 2008

Deb Ann, we’ll do our best! 🙂

Barb, I’m angry with O’Connell too, but check the comments in the “O’Connell…” post also dated today. Keep that in mind when making the call. But thank you so so much for calling! I also appreciate your outrage! That’s what will keep education for deaf children in California safe!

Jenny, alum/community member

12 01 2008

I’ve thought through this a little bit and would like to offer my strongest inclination: Until someone gets clarification on what this guy meant, it’s all a guessing game and people are at risk for taking action based on potentially faulty assumptions.

Please take care in getting the full meaning behind this man’s statements so you can then be of the right support if needed.

Have your Administrators or Superintendent called to seek clarification? How would making a call for information be insubordinate under the Calif. Dept. of Education? I don’t get that and I encourage you all to question that until you completely understand why not.

What about your teacher’s union or board of directors or other legislative bodies who work on behalf of CSD? Can they call? Without clarification, things can get blown out of context.

Informed action is the most effective kind.

~ LaRonda

12 01 2008


You’re right. Cooler heads need to prevail and rash action is certainly unwarranted. I’ll get into that before I conclude this comment.

A clarification needs to be made first. *smile* You (and probably some others in their thoughts) keep saying “you” and “your.” It’s not. We community members are all stakeholders, so it’s actually “our.” Furthermore, not all people who are part of this effort work at CSD. The key point here is that it’s “our,” as in “yours and mine,” not just mine. *smile*

As for action, we’ve processed this, and we fully acknowledge the possibility that this is simply a political ploy, therefore, we need to tread with care. But do we really want to take that chance and wait? The budget crisis is a very real and serious one. There are ways to argue successfully that downsizing the State Special Schools is a smart financial move, but I’m not going to make the mistake of outlining those here. *grin* What we (as in all of us community members out there) need to do is to get in touch with O’Connell’s office, but to do it with tact and reason. We do not want to alienate him, you’re right. We do, however, need to send the message that CSD is valuable and should be left alone with a minimum of damage from the budget ax. There’s nothing wrong/dangerous about going ahead and placing a tactful call, saying that you want to keep CSD without downsizing in any way, and encouraging others to do the same. I hope you’ll consider doing that.

We will respond to the insubordination issue, but we’re vetting the response to ensure that everything’s okay. Thanks for letting us know that it’s not clear to you what’s the issue is.

This is a multi-pronged approach, and we’re doing everything we can, including some of what you’ve suggested. Please do continue to make suggestions, since this affects all of us in the community. 🙂

Thanks again, LaRonda, for caring enough to share your thoughts! That’s what I love about the local community – we’re able to pull together and work together.

Jenny, community member/alum

13 01 2008
Karen Mayes

I am with LaRonda… ask for more clarification. Then the game plan that DE offered would be refined and then carried out if needed.

Here in Indiana, ISD just got informed that its budget for next year was cut at 5% (well, better than 7% last year.) I am sure it is affecting other deaf schools also…

13 01 2008

Hi there,

When I first saw this vlog/blog, I noticed that the year was 2006 so i thought it was old news and didnt bother to read it. So if it happened in 2008, please correct it so it doesnt look like its old news. Many thanks and good luck! And yes contact your teacher’s union for clarification, they are there to help you if most of you are members.

13 01 2008

Thank you for your response, Jenny. I agree that we are all stakeholders. This issue concerns me as a Deaf Community member. I just wanted to add that even though I seek more clarification, CSD has my support. 🙂

~ LaRonda

13 01 2008
Ethan Firl

I’m calling tomorrow morning(Monday). If he thinks he can treat my nephew like a 2nd class citizen he’s got another thing coming. Don’t worry I wont yell or use foul language, I’ll just let him know not to send any deaf kids home from school at a different rate than hearing kids. I’ll be sure to suggest he INCREASE funding for special schools in California. So there!

13 01 2008
Red CJ Mayfield

I agree with Jenny (Hi Jenny, long time!). In order for O’Connell and the people who works with him to listen and take us seriously we need to communicate in a straighforward, direct and civilized approach instead of to communicate in harassing, threatening and angry manners. Yes, those feelings you may be experiencing is understandable, normal and perhap VERY tempting to express exact how you feel but then again we want the very people including O’Connell to pay attention to what we have to say and they most likely will take us seriously with respects.

Red CJ Mayfield (CSD class of 88 & chairperson for DHHSC Merced/|Mariposa/Madera AC.

24 01 2008
Jenamarie Bacot (Daviton-Sciandra)

Just a short note to let you know that California will be getting phone calls and emails from me this weekend. My stake is in your ground and i support the fight to keep our Home alive.

25 01 2008
LuLu Long

Hello Everybody,

Of course, I wish I can have everybody at one place to understand how it is a very “MUST” means “M U S T” save our Deaf school at the CSD (California School for the Deaf) because it is very important key for all Deaf/Hard of Hearing to continually with their education to improve their future goals if we still have our good programs, and our good services without any of these cut budget.

Please as I beg you, governors and assemblyman to understand what Deaf/Hard of Hearing mostly need CSD to continually alive forever with endless. Plus some of our other service centers that Deaf/Hard of Hearing people are depending for some help in varies areas as it’s the major places where Deaf/Hard of Hearing people can always solve problems, if there’s no places for any of these services then where else would Deaf/Hard of Hearing go to? Assume let’s march to your office as it happened in Gally?


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