Exclusive: Tempers Flare Over Closing of School for Deaf Children — Chris Wolfe Reports

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A very ugly scene broke out this morning at Oralingua School for the hearing impaired in Whittier.

And a KTLA photographer was in the middle of it.

There was pushing and punching.

Our cameraman couldn’t see all of it because the head of the PTA attacked him, trying to prevent him from shooting the explosive scene.

The woman actually broke a microphone off his camera and then tried another course of action.

Police arrived and eventually arrested one of the men involved in the fight – a parent – on assault charges.

Clearly emotions reached the boiling point today, however, Oralingua has been at the center of growing tension between parents and administrators for some time.

The independent, non-profit school is closing after more than 40 years in operation.

Parents have hurled accusations of mismanagement of funds, even theft, at board members.

Parents tell us 17 staffers, including teachers and the principal, resigned last year.

Tina Jung of the California Department of Education told KTLA “We have received no complaints about Oralingua School, however today we learned in an email that a complaint has been filed with the California Attorney General’s Office.”

The Whittier Daily News as well as parents tell us Oralingua’s main source of funding, upwards of 2-million dollars, comes from dozens of public school districts with which it contracts.

But the Chairman of the Board of Directors says Sacramento has been squeezing the districts and the districts have been squeezing Oralingua.

Parents we talked to, don’t buy it.

“Parents have done their own research, contacting their own districts. The districts have paid. So where is the money,?” asks parent Virginia Romero.

We placed calls to the Chairman of the Board of Trustees here at Oralingua and are still waiting to hear back from him.

No one denies that the school, the teachers and specialists who have worked here through the decades, have done some wonderful things for hearing-impaired children.

— Chris Wolfe, KTLA News

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