Protest demands new leader for the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind

Published: Jun. 23, 2023 at 7:15 PM EDT
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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - Some parents and alumni of the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind want its current superintendent, Pat Trice, out.

Many members connected with the school staged a peaceful protest at the intersections of Beverly Street and Augusta Street for the public to understand what is going on. The spark started when a change was proposed for the deaf community’s mascot at the school changed from its traditional cardinal, which dug a hole for protesters on why they are fighting for Trice’s removal.

“She’s not being very transparent. She’s also been taking away the students’ first amendment rights. I noticed that the students are extremely upset. They really want to fight against us, they feel like it’s their responsibility to speak up, and we as alumni feel the same,” VSDB Alumni Patti Cooke said.

The superintendent’s renewal is scheduled to happen June 30, in time for the new fiscal year, which is why those who care want to take their passion to the streets.

People on these corners are standing up for the Deaf community here. The protest itself is a sign that they want change that reflects who they are better.

The school in Staunton is for the deaf and the blind, but one student says she dropped out because she felt pushed aside.

“Hearing people are trying to come to the school too and it’s not good. We don’t want her contract renewed with a lot of problems that are happening so we just want her out,” Former VSDB Student Saniya said.

Saniya shared that other students are transferring out as well for similar reasons.

“We want someone new, someone who understands the deaf and blind community, not just the blind community,” VSDB Alumni Patti Cooke said.

The common goal is to get wheels in motion for better representation at the school. The protest is set to continue Saturday, June 24 at noon.

A petition calling for her removal has been up for weeks, collecting more than 300 signatures.

Trice said she had no comment regarding the petition or protest when WHSV reached out to her.