[tabi] chanel 6 news story on DBS

  • From: "Easy Talk" <Easytalk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 8 Dec 2012 08:46:22 -0500

Blind Services Survey Raises Issues
Click here to find out more!
It provides critical help for blind and visually impaired people to live 
and productive lives.
The Division of Blind Services is part of Florida's Department of Education.
An internal audit obtained exclusively by Eyewitness News raises several issues 
the division.
It all started with a genetic disorder first appearing when she 12.
After a slow progression, five years ago, Toni King became completely blind.
"Tallahassee high 75 degrees fahrenheit, low 55 degrees fahrenheit," chirps 
Thanks to help from "Lighthouse of the Big Bend", Toni has learned to use sound 
for her phone and computer.
And with her service dog Schepus, she's able to get around and lead a very 
"This training is absolutely essential for someone who's visually impaired or 
to return to an independent lifestyle," said Toni.
Eighty percent of the funding for Lighthouse comes from Florida's Department of 
In particular, it comes from DOE's Division of Blind Services.
DOE's management survey obtained exclusively by Eyewitness News raises numerous 
with Blind Services.
The survey says an unusually high 40 percent of staff don't support management.
It also says not all vacancies are made public.
"Seems to me that's problematic and probably violates Florida's statutes," said 
Chastain, the incoming president of the Human Relations State Council.
And Chastain says the most troubling finding in the report is the trend of staff
voluntarily leaving Blind Services.
Twenty-seven left in 2009, 56 in 2010 and 62 last year.
"That's very telling," said Chastain. "Of everything that's contained there, 
the red flag, people are leaving and people don't leave when they're happy," she
An anonymous letter from a staffer sent to the Ethics Commission places the 
on Division Director Joyce Hildreth and her management team.
The letter claims there's a hostile and unfair working environment resulting in 
morale and productivity.
While Hildreth has been unavailable for comment, DOE sent a statement.
It says, "We take any claim that affects our core mission seriously and will 
the items in the letter to be certain that we are doing the best job we can for 
people who need our help."
The statement goes on to say, "We will continue to work to find ways to improve 
enhance services for those we serve."
Dan Krassner, director of the government watchdog group Integrity Florida, is 
"Let's Hope the Inspector General with the Department of Education gets to the 
of this," said Krassner.
Toni King is also interested.
She's gone from a former client to working at Lighthouse.
She knows any issues with the Division of Blind Services could have a direct 
on her ability to help other people like herself.
"It's such a gift to come to work everyday and know that I'm able to help other 
the same way the Lighthouse helped me," King said.
The Ethics Commission didn't take up the issues in the letter because it was 
We're told as a result of the management survey, Blind Services is conducting 
building activities.
They're designed to contribute to a positive work environment.

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