Local School for Deaf Children Closes Amid Funding Controversy
WHITTIER – Oralingua School for the Hearing Impaired closed its doors Friday, but not without controversy.
A fight broke out at the school as KTLA cameras attempted to record video of a meeting between school officials and parents.
The incident began during the meeting as parents were asking questions about school funding, according to Virginia Romero, a parent of two Oralingua students.
A KTLA Channel 5 news team began filming the meeting, said Romero, who was at the meeting.
Whittier police were called and arrested one man, Luis Ojeda, 47, of Whittier, on suspicion of assault.
School officials say Oralingua is shutting down because of funding shortfalls.
Oralingua’s main source of funding, upwards of 2-million dollars, comes from dozens of public school districts with which it contracts.
Frank Hill, chairman of the school’s board of directors, said the school finally succumbed to late payments from public school districts, which pay the tuition for Oralingua’s students.
Hill, a former State Senator, summed it up this way.
“They’re getting the squeeze from Sacramento, and they’re squeezing us.’
Oralingua has been in the red for years, losing 16 staff members last year, who claimed they hadn’t been paid in months.
But, parents are disputing school’s claims of financial woes, even hurling accusations of mismanagement of funds, even theft, at board members.
“Parents have done their own research, contacting their own districts. The districts have paid. So where is the money,” asks Romero.
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 independent, non-profit school was founded over 40-years ago by eight families who partnered with professionals in the field of oral-deaf education.