Decision to reassign School for Deaf and Blind’s principal riles community

Peaceful protests outside school that serves Hawaii's deaf and blind students

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - At the Hawaii School for the Deaf and the Blind on Friday, supporters’ signs and sign language told the story: They want Principal Angel Ramos brought back.

“He has a deaf education background. He knows how to manage and make deaf people learn," said Cheryl Mizusawa, part of a group called SOAR, which stands for “Save Our Angel Ramos.”

“Teachers were so thrilled. They worked so well with him.”

At the beginning of the month, the state Department of Education brought in a temporarily assigned principal and transferred Ramos to another school.

Mizusawa said Ramos was a perfect fit. He is deaf and fluent in American sign language.

SOAR member Ed Chevy said since Ramos was hired in 2016 he turned the school around.

"While Angel was here I felt the school really became more understanding. It was more equal. There was nobody higher or below," he said.

The DOE won't talk about personnel matters but said it recognizes the school's needs.

In a statement, DOE communications director Lindsay Chambers said the school is in good hands with a “continuum of school-level leadership with administrators who are deaf educators, some with more than 30 years of service with the department.”

Mizusawa and Chevy are both deaf. They worked at HSDB many years ago and remain engaged with the school. They don’t understand the DOE’s decision.

"The importance of role models is the key, right there, to see that somebody is the same as me," Chevy said.

A few years before Ramos took over at the school, it was embroiled in a sex assault scandal. SOAR said under his leadership, enrollment increased and the school gained national accreditation.

“They need his leadership,” Mizusawa said. “Without Dr. Ramos, everybody is stuck.”

Chevy said the temporary principal isn’t deaf like Ramos. He worries how that might affect HSBE’s students.

SOAR started an online petition calling for the DOE to return Ramos to the school. It has gotten more than 1,500 signatures.

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