Another objection, this time in Vermont. The new president signs but isn't deaf. A state-wide deaf advocacy group is criticizing the recent hiring of the new president and CEO of the Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
The Vermont Association of the Deaf says the hiring of William Gurney to lead the Austine School and the Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VCDHH) fails to meet the center’s mission of empowering deaf and hard of hearing children. Gurney is not deaf and does not have a long history of using American Sign Language.
In a letter to the chairman of the VCDHH board of trustees, Mary Essex of the Vermont Association of the Deaf says the entire process of hiring Gurney was flawed and asks VCDHH to establish a stronger commitment to including alumni and parent groups in future decisions, and to retain and recruit more deaf professionals to work in leadership positions on campus.
"It is not the intention of VTAD to diminish the capacity of VCDHH, but just the opposite," Essex wrote. "VCDHH has so many resources and is capable of being a strong asset to the state of Vermont. We seek to collaborate our resources and work together as a team to improve the quality of life for all deaf and hard of hearing Vermonters." Gurney, who is the associate superintendent of SAU 29 in Keene, N.H., was selected by the Board of Trustees in April to replace outgoing President and CEO Bert Carter, who is leaving to take over as president of the Willie Ross School
VCDHH hired a national consulting firm to find a replacement for Carter and considered candidates from Arizona, Colorado and Washington D.C. before hiring Gurney. In her letter responding to the hiring of Gurney, Essex said VCDHH not only insulted the deaf community by choosing a leader without extensive ASL experience, but the organization also did a very poor job of engaging the local and state-wide deaf community.