California School for the Deaf (CSD) families, faculty demand leadership resignation

State Superintendent Tom Torlakson cited for ignoring crisis at California School for the Deaf: Culture of fear and retaliation results in declining enrollment and high staff turnover.

Action scheduled for Friday, Aug. 19

FREMONT, Calif. – California School for the Deaf (CSD) families and faculty will take further action on Friday to demand the immediate resignation of the school’s site superintendent amid growing and unanswered concerns for declining student enrollment, high staff turnover and a culture of fear and retaliation caused by his gross lack of leadership.

CSD, which serves students from Fresno to the border of Oregon, has built a reputation as a world-class school. With the support of staff, families and community, CSD provides high-quality instruction and opportunities for deaf students, who come from around the world to attend the prominent Bay Area school.

The school’s reputation is at stake, however. Families and staff have documented multiple accounts of how the unchecked destructive behavior of CSD Site Superintendent Dr. Sean Virnig is directly causing teachers to leave, student enrollment to drop and morale to sink lower, creating far-reaching implications for the surrounding community.

The Association of Families, Teachers, and Counselors (AFTC), along with SEIU Local 1000 and the California Association of the Deaf (CAD), are working collaboratively to urge State Superintendent Tom Torlakson to act in the best interest of the CSD community and remove Virnig as site superintendent. CSD requires new leadership that supports the school’s vision for exemplary bilingual education for deaf children.

Despite meetings with families and staff and receiving all documentation, Torlakson has so far taken no action to remove Virnig.

Disappointed with Torlakson’s decision, a new movement of families and staff has been established called #TakeBackCSD, which has one goal: To remove Virnig as CSD’s site superintendent and to work with CSD’s community to hire a new superintendent who understands the heart and spirit of CSD’s exemplary educational vision.

So far, 80 percent of teachers have already signed a petition supporting a vote of no confidence in Virnig and families and faculty are submitting formal letters to Virnig’s supervisors demanding his immediate resignation. The group will continue to take action to return CSD to its status as a world-class school for deaf students.

Read an open letter here:

Action Details:

What: #TakeBackCSD rally to urge State Superintendent Tom Torlakson to remove CSD site superintendent
When: Friday, Aug. 19, 2016
Time: 3:30 PM – 6:30 PM
Where: CSD Big Gym – 39350 Gallaudet Drive, Fremont, CA 94538
Visuals: SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, California School for the Deaf families, staff and community members, holding signs, staging rally



Elvis Zornoza – AFTC President

Ella Mae Lentz – AFTC President

Sulghi Hong – CSD Union Representative

Julie Rems-Smario – CAD President