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Hearing-Impaired Girl Banned From Using Sign Language At School

A Hearing-Impaired Girl Banned From Using Sign Language While At School

New Jersey school officials have threatened a 12-year-old hearing-impaired girl to stop using sign language to communicate on the school bus or face a 3-day suspension, according to The Washington Times.

Danica Lesko and her parents have told reporters that sign language is the only way for her to communicate after she lost her hearing in an accident.

The Washington Times said that officials at Stonybrook School and district officials in Branchburg New Jersey have said that signing is a safety hazard.

“In a statement released through the school district’s attorney, David Rubin, the Branchburg Board of Education insisted it did not violate anyone’s rights and is only trying to protect other students,” ABC News reported.

“The Board is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to all students with disabilities, and is satisfied that there has been no violation of that policy in this case.

“The Board is also committed to assuring the safety of all students who travel on District buses, and will continue to take appropriate steps to accomplish that goal,” the statement said.

According to The Washington Times, Mary Ann Lesko, Danica’s mother said, “She has a hearing problem, and now she’s being punished for using sign language. It’s absurd.”

Danica’s parents are considering suing over the school’s threat because they claim that the officials are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Parents are very protective when it comes to their children and their rights and safety.

Some recent news regarding children’s safety included the parents that included the Facebook kidnapping prevented by the child’s parents, and there was also the story of the mother who set up her own sting to nab an online predator.

Parents are protective over their children, and, in the case of Danica Lesko, her parents should be concerned.

How accommodating can the school be if they are telling a hearing-impaired girl that she can’t use sign language to communicate?

Image via Shutterstock/Pavzyuk Svitlana]

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74 Responses to “Hearing-Impaired Girl Banned From Using Sign Language At School”

  1. Kay McFadon

    that is liike telling anyone else that they can not talk. and use there hands when they talk.
    I think this is a form of discrimination.

  2. Frances Toth

    Do you know what the out come was? I don't remember this case.Enlighten me. Thank you.

  3. Diane Allen

    This is poorly written and is very hard to understand. When did this happen?

  4. Laura Zimmerman

    Did you click on the Washington Times story? Looks current to the year: the family received a letter dated March 30th; the date on the story is *yesterday*. Maybe it's similar to something that happened 12 years ago?

  5. Rebecca Pendleton

    It happened march of this year not 12 years ago the letter was sent to the parents the 30th. Its said that kids are punished for being different. My brother is deaf and until he hit junior high was in public school and never had any issues with disrupting his classes

  6. Ellen Oakley

    what a horribly written article. So many things unsaid and the remarks about all parents are protective of their kids. I mean What?

  7. Calleigh Carter Messer

    They need to sue the school for the disability act asl is not a safety hazard at all it like tell the hearing fokes it ok to make fun of the deaf

  8. Melanie Young

    This happened in 2001. It should not have even been a case at all. What is disruptive about using sign language when that is your method of communication? There is no excuse for this stupidity.

  9. Lori Ellers

    Thats fine to ban her from using sign langauge on the bus as long as they also ban hearing students from speaking while on the bus. Since the deaf student cant speak with her hands then the hearing students cant speak with their mouths/voices… what a bunce of dumb ass administrators

  10. Ju Leah Willson

    How does 'communicating in your language' equate to 'safety concern'?

    Do they stop kids from speaking other languages too?

  11. Hazel Kunz DeMarco

    Where does it say this article is twelve years old? Washington Times article is dated 6/19/2013 and says the parents were sent a letter dated March 30th that their 12 year old daughter who is hearing impaired would be suspended if she continued to use sign language on the school bus because they deemed it a safety hazard.Did not explain exactly why they consider it a hazard -because she does not speak, they can't understand her in sign language, or she moves her hands around when she "speaks"– what creates the safety hazard?

  12. Kathryn Pelly Carter

    The GIRL is 12 years old – can't you read?

  13. Ashley Whaley-Adih

    Thank you!! I was going to say the exact same thing!! Not only that, but how on Earth is using sign language a safety concern?? More details need to be given here! Besides, telling a hearing impaired person not to use sign language is like telling a person to speak without their voices. It makes no sense to me.

  14. Kristine Fisher

    I hope the parents do sue! how in the world does sign language pose a safety hazard? the school district is denying this child's right to an equal education! they ought to be ashamed of themselves!

  15. Maggie Scarborough

    That IS discrimination and if the school district continues to be a donkey, I hope the parents do sue! It's absolutely unconscionable!

  16. Louise Reeves

    I swear people are getting more and more stupid every day. Are they going to be fair and suspend any kids who don't speak English now too? I hope they sue too.

  17. Melissa Farina

    That's like telling a person who can hear sorry you are not allowed to seack to communicate. I just don't know who is running the schools now a days.
    I think the colleges do not know how to teach and the administration just wants to do their time and retire a on a big fat salary.

  18. Stevan A Mynatt

    I'm going out on a limb here but I would imagine the child is probably standing and turning around on the bus in order to communicate with peers. Having driven a school bus in the past, that is a very dangerous situation not only for the student but everyone on the bus as well, including the driver when they take their eyes off the road to identify problems from the overhead mirror. IF the driver had control over his/her bus….ALL children on the bus would be seated and facing forward while the bus was in motion and conversation kept at a minimum. The driver needs to be able to concentrate on the route and the bus in order to insure a safe trip for their charges. You cant do that with bedlam reigning on the bus. The article stated this happened ON the school bus and not in the classroom. That said..I side with the school district 100%. Sit down, face forward, talk with your inside voice only to your seat mate. Once off the bus…..have at it kids.

  19. Carol Corbley Soos

    I don't see how this is hazardous to the other children. If she isn't allowed to talk, sigatn, then the others should remain silent. Not fair you say. What about her. This makes her non social. We are trying to have these kids gel together in society. hey have that right just as much as the next child. What happen to the compassion we all use to have in general even. Talk about Bullying, They will soon be teasing and bulling her and anyone else who is "different". It is up to school officials to make sure this doesn't happen, especially since they were instrumental in making this "rule".
    Wake up folks, this is their future your messing with, whether you believe it or not. You might make a difference! This is a learning experience for everyone!

  20. Carl Stettler

    Signing the U and H requires hand in shape of pistol. That is banned under zero tolerance political correctness. Some school administrators have gone too far and lacking the common sense of making the choices.

  21. Carol Walton Ruzicho

    i thought you wernt supposed to discriminate against children with disability

  22. Dawn Felsing

    It does seem terribly unfair but, I would like to know who she is communicating with in sign language. The average grade school child does not sign.Can she read and write, why not text. If signing is her only means of communication she is limited as to who she can talk to. If she lost her hearing in an accident after she had already learned to talk, she should be able to read lips and speak intelligibly.

  23. Linda Alicea

    I would think that is a violation of the "Freedom of Speech". This is the only way she can "speak". Give me a break.

  24. Maggie Gibson

    Wow, that makes me angry. I hope they do sue. But either way, the damage has been done to the girl. I'm guessing someone complained about it in order for the school to have made this demand. Someone close-minded and selfish. That's the person who should be moved/removed from the bus. That poor girl.

  25. Michael Musicman Garceau

    What ta F**k is wrong with people? Honestly the older I get, the sick I become from human bullshit…

  26. Patrick Los

    I agree this seems like something is missing from this article What situation caused them to reach this decision. how can they justify that sign language poses a safety risk?

  27. Sharon Moore

    Her parents should sue the school board of every extra penny. Schools are paid by their states for each pupil that attends their schools. You would think the board would want to accommodate Danica. Danica's parents need to see just how bad they can make it for the school board.

  28. Bonnie Wilson

    maybe there is a rule of no talking on the school bus.. if so then she should not use sign language and where is the part to say yes or no to mainstreaming…I am extremely against mainstreaming.

  29. Joanne Pike

    By The Washington Times Wednesday, June 19, 2013
    N.J. school board bans hearing-impaired girl from using sign language

  30. Gordon Knowlton

    You are an embarrassment to my eyes right now. No she should not sue for every penny because that will make it harder on students that have nothing to do with this. It is a b.s story. I also agree with the bus driver. If its because she is turning around and signing then that is another thing.

  31. Hazel Kunz DeMarco

    I usually goggle or snopes anything that seems "a bit out there" to me but did not do that with this since it also carried an abc news tag – but was that a " real" news feed. After goggling, I see that this case was indeed first mentioned as happening in 2001 and that she refiled a law suit in 2007 after she turned 18-and ,also, that this same report about her being suspended appeared n 2006,2010, and 2012 and in all of those reports she was twelve. So, is any part of this actually true???

  32. Hazel Kunz DeMarco

    article is dated March 30th but no year is given. Also later there is an article from abc news dated April26th (w/o a year) saying the girl who was threatened for using sign language a month ago would be allowed to use sign language on the bus. in 2007, it says 18 yr. old Danica was filing another suit against the school district for "harm" done to her emotional well-being by that incident. The same article that appeared yesterday also-appeared in 2006,2010, and 2012– the news media needs to check(Goggle) their facts and I guess we do,too. LOL

  33. Jamie Wilson

    This is discrimination! The parents need to contact the CHRO (Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities) and an attorney. If they can't afford one, there are attorney's that work as "they don't get paid unless you win". A safety concern what a joke. Sue them and make sure it is broadcasted all over the news and show people how discrimination will not be tolerated.

  34. Tracy Nash

    Threatening the child with suspension? That is an obviously flagrant violation of the ADA…Sue the district if she gets suspended.

  35. Deborah Hoff

    Maybe she pokes other kids in the eyes when she signs in tight quarters, LOL! She'll put someone's eye out with that thing!

  36. Cheryl Comento

    How stupid can the school be, this I S how she communications.

  37. Silvana Friedman

    "Editor’s Note: This story is based on outdated information and was published in error. The Washington Times regrets the error".

    Old story people, click on the link The Washington Times. I love the people who insist this is a new story, look for yourselves!

  38. Cheryl Scudder Godwin

    Wrong I read the other article it was because she was signing with her friends on the bus and some boys started teasing her and yelling at her because of the signing so instead of punishing the bullies they punish the girl that is getting bullied.

  39. Jo Karnofsky

    If this is a true story, it's disgusting and the parents should take legal action against the school district. Sign language is recognized as another language just like Spanish, French. etc. and students recive credit for taking ASL.

  40. Tom Willard

    I am mystified as to why this 11-year-old news story has suddenly popped up again as if it has just happened. The issue was resolved long ago.

  41. Sharon Moore

    So sorry that I am such an embarrassment to your eyes. You obviously haven't been around special needs children. The little girl has lost her hearing. how else is she suppose to have a chat with any of her classmates, her friends and what she has to say to the school board. Yes I support whatever the parents decide to do. Sorry she lost her hearing.

  42. Matthew Smith

    This actually happened in 2001, and a lawsuit was filed in 2007 when Danica Lesko turned 18. The Washington Times has retracted its article as "based on outdated information". It would be nice if the ABC News story, which is from twelve years ago, would have the year on it.

  43. Marie Kilbane

    she need go to deaf school but not in hearing school ( they have no feeling for deafies).. Sign Language is awesome.. Great feeling alot of comforable to communcation.

  44. Bradley Goodyear

    WTF! I am Deaf. I am not impress with their system. it is a damn AUDISM PERIOD!

  45. Ryan Clouse

    Ashley Whaley-Adih Please use the word deaf not hearing impaired. We don't like that.

  46. Ryan Clouse

    Ashley Whaley-Adih Please use the word deaf not hearing impaired. We don't like that.

  47. Larry Drexler

    New Jersey school officials are same bed together Alexander Graham Bell has the respect of the most prominent American eugenicists.

  48. Larry Drexler

    "We the Deaf People": What's a Watchdog, and What Does It Do For Us?
    "We are a new grassroots political-advocacy group promoting freedom, justice, and equality for deaf people".

  49. Larry Drexler

    As mentioned in our mission statement, We the Deaf People will function as a watchdog group for the Deaf Community. We seek to protect and secure the rights of Deaf Americans and to make sure the public sees us as intelligent, capable human beings, We can take legal action against companies of Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing (AGBell), public figures, or individuals that do us wrong as Deaf people–practicing discrimination, making disparaging comments, behaving is unethical ways.

  50. Dawn Peters

    true nj is so stupid, they don't want to know abt deaf culture ughh nj makes me sick

  51. Kathy Jo McCune

    How would you like if the school officals telling your kid on the school bus that he/she CAN'T use speaking voice? It is like cutting the Deaf girl that she cna't use her sign language as her form of communication. How do you view that sign languae will put any hazard or risk to others? I have to agree with Cheryl Godwin.

  52. Lisa Levine

    So….we are ok with foreign students speaking in another language but…for someone who cannot speak at all and ASL is their only form of communication is not ok??? Wtf??
    How is this appropriate? How is this helping anyone? Do they tell the blind kids not to use braille??

  53. Dale Ritter

    Really? I'm surprised! They were an ASL school back in the 70's.

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