Apr 19, 2013 12:35 AM by Sam Salzwedel
TUCSON - Leaders at the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and Blind cannot comment on why two popular employees are gone.
Students are staging protests at their Tucson and Phoenix campuses. They say they are upset over the loss of their agriculture program and its teacher, Richard Layton.
The school's Executive Director, William Koehler, said he cannot comment on the dismissal because it is a personnel issue. He said the agriculture program is only on temporary hold.
"This has been a very difficult year for these kids," Koehler said. "We understand when somebody leaves it's a problem for them. What we can't do is tell them a lot of the details."
Layton said he was terminated Wednesday and spoke with News 4 Tucson on Thursday, "I asked: reason? They said since you're on probation we don't need to give you one and that was it. They escorted me off campus."
He has taught at the school since August 2011. Layton said he filed a grievance against the school superintendent Robert Hill and thinks his termination was retaliation.
"I feel more for the kids. It's not so much my job, it's the opportunities we're taking away from the kids. So yeah, it's hard," Layton said.
Students, parents, concerned citizens and alumni have written a letter asking for Hill to step down. An online petition has garnered hundreds of signatures.
Alan Amann's son is a student at ASDB. He said he is upset and frustrated with the school's administration, "we want a superintendent who can act and acts in good faith and in the trust of ASDB and not put his personal agenda before ASDB and we feel like that's not happening now."
Students are also protesting the departure of Dr. Nancy Amann, who is Alan's wife. Amann served as an executive director/principal at the Tucson site. It's unclear why she is on leave.
Nathan Amann is her son, but he said he is speaking as a student and looks up to both of the people who recently left.
"We strive to better ourselves in education." Amann said. "They are wonderful role models for our community, not just for our students, but for deaf throughout the nation."
Signs posted outside the school are demanding that Amann and Layton return to school. The students also want their animals returned. Layton said he was instructed to get rid of the animals in the Agriculture class. He said the goats and chickens were returned to their owners. He believes the goats would probably end up processed.
Layton said he was overwhelmed by the support of the students, "it brings goose bumps to think that this means something to them." He said he hopes to appeal his termination.
The students plan to continue their protest through the weekend by camping out on campus.