[nfbmi-talk] Article: Protest against firing of Blind Training Center's director
jj at bestmidi.com
Tue Feb 23 21:13:29 UTC 2010
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - More than a dozen protesters held signs and chanted
outside the Michigan Commission for the Blind Training Center in Kalamazoo Tuesday
morning to support Christine Boone. She was the center's director until state officials
fired her a few weeks ago.
The National Federation of the Blind of Michigan organized Tuesday's rally that included
several of Christine Boone's former students.
The state fired Christine Boone for allowing those blind students to shoot spring-loaded
pellet guns at an outdoor target on school property, as part of a marksmanship course.
The state called the course an egregious lack of judgment and says firearms are illegal
on state property.
But those at the rally say Christine Boone was an innovator as the director and say
the marksmanship course was just one way she gave the blind confidence.
"I realize what kind of administrator she is," said Larry Posont, president of the
National Federation of the Blind of Michigan. "She's empowering the students."
Roxanna Mann was one of those students. She began attending the Michigan Commission
for the Blind Training Center on Oakland Drive in the fall of 2009. She lost her
sight to glaucoma and other eye diseases. Roxanna says the shooting class was voluntary,
but she gladly signed up for it.
"It was an injustice to hear, if it truly was on the surface as a marksmanship course,"
said Roxanna, referring to Christine Boone's dismissal. "It was a huge injustice.
"I've never got a bull's-eye sighted, but I got one blind. I'm proud [and full of]
Michelle Carrington told Newschannel 3 she would have taken the marksmanship class,
too, but the state cancelled it in November of 2009.
"They're basically, by taking the class away, they're saying the blind is too stupid
to shoot a gun," Michelle said.
The protesters chanted, "Fire the Cannon!" - a reference to Patrick Cannon, director
of the Michigan Commission for the Blind in Lansing. They'd prefer he was the one
to get fired, not Christine Boone.
"Pat Cannon's administration is falling apart," Larry Posont said. "And with him
falling apart, he's trying to put the blame on somebody else."
Roxanna Mann told Newschannel 3 she wouldn't be where she is today and wouldn't have
shot a bull's-eye without Christine Boone's help.
"It was a huge high for me, a huge confidence builder," Roxanna said. "My husband
was so proud. We're framing the bull's-eye and it's in our lodge room."
Christine Boone has appealed her firing. She says she had verbal consent to do the
shooting class and that the spring-loaded pellet guns used do not meet the definition
of a firearm.
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