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Harrisburg To Take On SD Deaf School Program

July 26, 2010, 6:01 PM by Katie Janssen

Harrisburg To Take On SD Deaf School Program
HARRISBURG, SD - Harrisburg will welcome back more than just its regular students next month; the district will also be home to the South Dakota School for the Deaf's American Sign Language program. The district just signed an agreement with the Board of Regents to take on deaf students, and administrators are now hoping more families will take part.

The Harrisburg School District is one of the fastest growing in the state and has the space and staff to accommodate the sign language program.

"We want to do what's right for kids and we feel like we could step up to the plate and provide a service and a program appropriate to meet their needs," Harrisburg’s Special Education Director Kristin Hamman said.

Hamman says the district has already hired an assistant special ed director and one deaf educator and will add more staff if needed.

Only one student has signed on so far, a middle school student. But the district is hoping for more students as the word gets out.

"We believe there are other children out there who, for whatever reason, were not able to access services at the South Dakota School for the Deaf, and we want to let them know Harrisburg is here," Hamman said.

Hamman says it's a win-win for families who need the service and also for all other students in Harrisburg. It's something the district has experience with.

"We've had a student who's deaf in our district,” Hamman said.  “And it was great to see how the kids and staff really stepped up, wanting to learn sign language and communicate with that individual."

There's no limit to the number of students the district will take on, and Hamman hopes to see the program thrive.

The South Dakota School for the Deaf does mostly outreach work now, and the oral-cochlear implant program moved to the Brandon Valley School District in 2009.

If you’d like to enroll your student, contact Superintendent Jim Holbeck at (605) 743-2567, or jim.holbeck@k12.sd.us.

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