Regents name new superintendent of schools for deaf, blind

New superintendent is longtime educator in field


The Board of Regents has chosen a new superintendent for the Iowa School for the Deaf and Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Steve Gettel, who leads the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind and is a longtime educator in the field, will take over leadership of the two Iowa schools this summer after superintendent Patrick Clancy officially retires. Clancy, 64, had been superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School since 2008 before heading both schools in 2012.

Clancy was chosen unanimously for the job, but critics expressed concern and legal action because Clancy didn’t know American Sign Language. Opponents also complained about the hiring process and the lack of public input.

Gettel, who does know American Sign Language, has been superintendent of the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind since 2001, and he previously served as supervising teacher and teacher of the deaf for the school. Gettel leads an executive branch agency with five program divisions and 135 employees that serve preschool through post-high school blind, low-vision, deaf and hard of hearing students.

He was named to the Iowa post Wednesday during the Board of Regents’ monthly meeting. He was chosen from among three finalists that also included Mark Draper, director of special education for Green Hills Area Education Agency in Council Bluffs, and Laurie Noll, director of curriculum and instruction for the Burlington Community School District.

The Board of Regents, which oversees the two schools along with the state’s three public universities, made its selection after hosting public hearings on the search process and the finalists.

Board President Bruce Rastetter said there was an excellent pool of candidates to choose from but they went with Gettel, in part, for his experience in the field. Gettel has been involved in special needs instruction for 32 years.

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