Emails Reveal Complaints, Discontent

Today was the first day of fall semester classes at U.A.L.R.

One student likely sat through two classes unnoticed by her peers despite being at the center of a state hiring controversy.

We have been pouring through a batch of emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

Many reveal a growing discontent about this hire.

Back in mid-July, State Work Force Services Director Bill Walker told legislators there had been no complaints against a woman hired as a sign language interpreter by Arkansas Rehabilitation Services.

That changed two days later when a deaf client complained "her sign language skills were very poor" and "she does not know American Sign Language."

There have been several similar complaints since.

The interpreter coordinator (Cheryl Sugg) summarizes the client complaints about the interpreter's ability: her signing is choppy, she could not voice, and her interpreting omitted important details and missed too much information.

A week after the legislative hearing emails show that consideration was being given to move the employee to another position.

A meeting with the Governor's office was heldbut no action followed.

On July 23rd Walker met with prominent members of Arkansas' deaf community to discuss the situation.

The next day Walker described the gathering as a "good healthy meeting" that helped create a "greater respect and appreciation."

But the president of the Arkansas Association of the Deaf emailed Walker a week later, telling him "In no way were we happy or satisfied with your plan. We do not believe another face to face meeting with you would be beneficial since you have stated that you will not remove the unqualified interpreter, period."

That interpreter was back in a college classroom Thursday to better learn the skill of signing.

But that hasn't been without drama either.

More on that story Friday.

Air date: August 23rd, 2012