Students petition district to keep sign language classes


Nick Larry

Coppell High school American Sign Language II class signs Christmas songs at the pit during third period. Currently, the district has cut ASL III and IV but a petition signed by the students and possible solutions to bringing the classes back are under review by Coppell ISD administration.

Nathan Cheng, Staff Writer

In the last few weeks, a petition signed by the students in American Sign Language classes (ASL) III and IV in February has been returned to the table and is currently under review by the Coppell ISD administration. 

During the course registration for the 2022-23 school year, 120 students registered for ASL II at Coppell High School. The influx of students from ASL I at CHS9 is overwhelming for current staff numbers.

So much so, CHS would have to hire another teacher to accommodate for the increased registration, but must get permission from the district to do so as the district makes the final decision with the financial logistics in mind. 

“Staffing requests have to be taken to an executive leadership team,” CHS associate principal Melissa Arnold said. “The district pays all the salaries. That’s why we have to report to them.”

Rather than hire a new teacher, the district decided the sole ASL teacher at CHS, Delosha Payne, would teach ASL II and cut all other classes from her schedule. This decision angered the students who were already registered for higher-level ASL classes, and they promptly began a petition, which now consists of six pages of signatures according to junior ASL IV student Elise Richardson.  

“When we found out, we immediately got up and went to go talk to [Principal Laura] Springer.” Richardson said. “She suggested that we start a petition so that’s what we did. We got six pages of signatures which we gave back to Springer.” 

Richardson  and Arnold also said that the advocacy began to pick up as parents began attending Coppell Visioning Meetings to argue alongside the students. These actions prompted the district to put up a full-time employee job posting in February, which still has yet to receive responses according to CHS lead counselor Ann Cinelli. 

Despite the fiery passions surrounding the situation, the situation itself is not new to the district. As CHS lead counselor Ann Cinelli explained, Coppell has always been growing and as a result, the district has to cut some classes. 

“Our district is growing,” Cinelli said. “They’re building new houses, people move here frequently, our numbers are just always growing. That’s why we built CHS9.”

But some students still feel that this reflects deeper issues within the CISD administration. While several ASL classes had to be cut, no other Language Other Than English (LOTE) class has been affected. In fact, an additional Mandarin teacher will be hired according to Springer. Some ASL students argue that the district could try harder to look for applicants. Even if the district could not hire a new full-time employee, they think that just having a part-time employee would suffice. 

“I think that even if they can’t find a full-time employee, a part-time employee would still work,” Richardson said. 

Arnold further elaborated, stating that there were only about forty-five students registered for ASL III and IV, so the district would not need another full – time teacher to teach a large number of classes. 

“ASL IV had only six students registered for it and two sections for ASL III,” Arnold said. “Really, we don’t need an additional full-time teacher, We just need an additional part-time teacher.”

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