A claim made by a state agency director to legislators is being questioned tonight.
Two days ago State Work Force Director Bill Walker told a room full of lawmakers that a state employee hired to interpret sign language was enrolled in a college course to better learn that skill.
Turns out…she wasn't.
A day after Mr. Walker told lawmakers this employee was enrolled in a sign language course at U.A.L.R…she did in fact enroll.
And who will be paying for this on-the-job training?
When Arkansas Rehabilitation Services had a job opening for a sign language interpreter last year, several people with national certifications applied.
One candidate, according to David McDonald…the man who interviewed her…"Did not understand the English or ASL (American Sign Language" when showed a video of a person signing.
That is the person Carl Daughtery picked for the job.
On Tuesday, he explained why to lawmakers.
"I really felt like since we advocate for people with disabilities and we as an agency…here was an opportunity where we wanted to support this individual and felt that she would be qualified and could potentially be a good interpreter if we growed and supported that," said Daughtery.
Growing and supporting costs money. In this case, taxpayer money.
U.A.L.R. estimates it will take years and cost between $23,000 and $36,000.
Is such certification important?
It is to the deaf community.
"You need to be certified to be a professional interpreter," according to Dr. Glen Anderson, a concerned deaf citizen and former Director of Training for the U of A's Research Training Center on Deafness.
But State Work Force Director Bill Walker stands by the pick.
"This lady has worked for us for almost two months," Walker told the committee. "She has done everything we have asked her to do…including enroll in school to get this training…this certification."
But we learned Thursday that wasn't yet true.
The employee in question enrolled in a sign language course yesterday (Wednesday), a day after Walker made his comments to lawmakers.
And again, you the taxpayer will pay for her education while candidates who already have credentials were passed over.
Robert Trevino, who reports directly to Mr. Walker, told legislators that federal grant money will be used to pay the for the ARS interpreter's tuition.
Air date: July 19th, 2012
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