Parents accuse Solon Schools of discriminating against deaf child


SOLON, Ohio (WJW) – The parents of a deaf 3-year-old child have accused the Solon City School District of discrimination.

Nick and Jamael Szucs told FOX 8 News that they’ve been battling with the district for months over how their daughter Ivy has been treated.

“Ivy couldn’t process everything that was happening to her. A lot of the things where people would just grab her and put her somewhere and get angry with her and then she doesn’t completely understand why,” said Nick.

Ivy was born with congenital cytomegalovirus. At first, the hearing loss was mild, but now it has progressed to profound deafness.

“We didn’t know it could change and once we did, we started learning sign language,” said Jamael.

The couple also enrolled Ivy into Solon’s Early Learning Center where their older daughter, who can hear, had attended and had great experience.

But they say very soon it became clear that the school’s staff was ill-equipped to handle a deaf child. 

“They were uneducated on deaf education,” said Jamael.

For months, the family says they were in discussions with the district trying to get Ivy a sign language interpreter and both sides even retained lawyers.

When that failed, Nick took his concerns to the board of education meeting this week where he accused them of providing interpreters to older students, but not Ivy.

“You said sign language might be disruptive to the other students’ education,” said Nick, “You said we needed data that proved she needed sign language. We asked again and again and you found different ways to say no.”

A district spokesperson told FOX 8 that they cannot comment on Ivy’s situation due to student confidentiality but said the accusations aren’t accurate.

They also said in part, “The district has not and does not deny students the necessary support they need to access language, learning and the curriculum regardless of their age,” and that “Solon Schools fully supports ASL learning for students and ASL interpreters currently serve students in our district.”

The Szucs disagree and say they were left with no choice but to relocate the family to Columbus, Ohio and have already enrolled Ivy in the Ohio School for the Deaf.

“The best we can do is surround her in the deaf community and support her the best way we can and hope that when we send her to school that she is learning at school,” said Jamael.

Nick has also already spoken before the Ohio State Board of Education about the situation and is pressing them into action to better serve the state’s 2,000 deaf children. 

“It’s difficult because a lot of district’s don’t understand what sign language means to a deaf person. Sign language means access to their education,” said Nick.

The Szucs asked the state board to find ways to better connect deaf children who are part of the language minority, whether it’s through bussing or Ohio School for the Deaf satellite campuses.

“Just getting them together so they can grow up together, be friends, they can sign together,” said Nick.

The state board was receptive to the suggestions and is currently considering possible action and policy changes.

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