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Gallaudet sees federal rating improve despite 2006 protests

Despite student protests and a tumultuous change of leadership at Gallaudet University, the internationally known school for the deaf and hard-of-hearing recently received an improved rating of "adequate" performance from the Department of Education.

The higher ranking has had a positive effect on the student body, according to Gallaudet spokesperson Mercy Coogan, who said students are "proud to be Gallaudet students."

In October, Gallaudet students protested the selection of former Gallaudet Provost Jane K. Fernandes as president of the university. Student protesters said they were dissatisfied with Fernandes' leadership.

Coogan said the university is "trying to move on from [its] protests in the fall."

The evaluation is part of a program review performed annually by the Office of Management and Budget which is required because Gallaudet receives funding each year from that office, according to Department of Education spokesperson Jim Bradshaw.

Prior to this year's evaluation, the university was considered "ineffective" according to its rating.

Gallaudet's rating increased in part because the institution "submitted additional information" during the re-evaluation process, said Jim Button, director of communication at the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

Coogan said Gallaudet is trying to take a "comprehensive look" at the Department of Education's recommendations, noting that each recommendation will be "addressed equally and with equal seriousness."

Button said the improvement process began in December and will intensify in April, when an official monitoring visit will occur.

Coogan said Gallaudet President Robert Davila is particularly interested in improving graduation rates. Coogan added that Gallaudet and the Department of Education are "working closely with recruiting so that students we recruit are well prepared for college life and have a fair chance to graduate."

Bradshaw said the Department of Education has a "longstanding relationship with the school."

The Department of Education has also sent a representative to ensure that Gallaudet will have all opportunities to reach its goals, Button said.