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Signs of Favoritism

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LITTLE ROCK -

Two people trained to read sign language claim they were beaten out for a job by a candidate who isn't qualified.

A recent hire by the State of Arkansas is being questioned.   

The job pays about $35,000 a year and is essential to those who need it.

Arkansas Rehabilitation Services (ARS) helps disabled people get jobs.

But it is one of the agency's own hires that is now cause for concern.

If you are deaf and job hunting, you will probably need an interpreter to help you communicate with potential employers.

ARS can provide that interpreter.

But two applicants for a recent interpreter job fear that the candidate who got the job…can't do the job.

"It upset me," says Cheryl Thomas of Cabot.  "Because we work so hard to be considered professionals.  What we do to get certification is expensive.  And I sit on the screening committee for Arkansas screening interpreters to work in the state.  And she doesn't even have that screening…which is below our national certification."

"If because she can't do the job she sits there and they have to hire someone else to do it…it is double tax dollars being spent," says John West of Benton.

Records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that of the nine candidates considered for the job, the woman ultimately hired had the second lowest test score.

Her interviewer, David McDonald, noted that she has "No certifications."

And after watching a short signing video, the candidate who would get the job "Did not understand the English or ASL (American Sign Language)."

"It was like a four minute video," recalls West.  "And it was a very basic video. There wasn't anything difficult in it at all."

Chief of Field Services Carl Daughtery made the call on who to hire and his supervisor, Robert Trevino, approved the pick.

A spokesperson for the Department of Career Education says the candidate has been on the job for several months and is meeting all expectations.

In our next report West and Thomas will share why they believe they never had a real shot at getting this job. You can watch that story by clicking here.

Air date:  June 26th, 2012