Typical protests in downtown Frederick the last couple of months have featured many chants and calls for action.
Friday afternoon, however, was different. That’s because the dozen or so parents and alumni of Maryland School for the Deaf were protesting on Clarke Place — in front of the school’s Frederick campus. They were waving signs calling for Maryland School for the Deaf Superintendent James Tucker to be fired because they believe he created a toxic environment at the school.
Some cars that drove by during the first half-hour of the march honked in support, the loudest sounds heard during the hours-long protest. One stopped as its driver appeared to sign in support of the protesters.
Protesters marched from near one of the school’s administrative buildings on Clarke Place to the corner of that street and Market Street before proceeding to City Hall and then coming back to the corner.
Catrina Register, who graduated from the school in 2013, said Tucker may have already announced his retirement, but his actions and failure to promote a safe environment should have led to him being fired.
“Tucker did a lot of damage to us,” Register said through Reyes Hourihan, an interpreter. “We want him held responsible [for his actions].”
“We don’t want him to get away with it,” she added, noting other students at the school could be harmed if the culture he created continues.
Favoritism of some students at the school is also an issue, Register said.
The Maryland School for the Deaf provides a public education for the deaf and hard-of-hearing residents from birth until 21. Most students start at a campus in Columbia before transferring to the high school campus in Frederick.
George Ketcham has two sons at the school: Kieran, 14, and Aidan, 12. Ketcham was also concerned about elitism at the school, saying it has created a bad culture.
Alumni and parents at the protest Friday presented a list of demands for school officials, similar to a letter submitted to the school’s board of trustees earlier this month. Some of the demands included an end to elitism and racism at the school, to hire more people of color and to fire Tucker. The demands also entreated the school’s Board of Trustees to listen to parent and alumni concerns.
Hourihan and other protesters said the school was putting some special needs students into tight quarters in a building on the east side of South Carroll Street near Clarke Place, versus one of the larger administrative buildings between South Market and Carroll streets.
Tucker announced he would retire Sept. 4, The Frederick News-Post previously reported. The school’s board of trustees will appoint an interim superintendent.
Robert Davila, chairman of the board of trustees, did not respond to a request for comment via email Friday evening.