Smaller Government

Career Education Department Remains Blind to the Needs of the Deaf

Walker work performance grade
Bill Walker’s work performance grade in sign language, appropriately.

Another government screwup in the Department of Career Education:  a state employee has stood up to his superiors, even though senior management is intent on packing state government payrolls with unqualified political hires. Why does the Beebe administration continue to tolerate mid-level bureaucrats who stand in the way of progressive cronyism? What on earth are these bureaucrats doing, standing in the way of hiring a completely unqualified sign language interpreter?

David McDonald reportedly refused to approve a plan for Clara Taylor to receive additional training as a sign language interpreter through UALR, compliments of the taxpayers (you remember: the same training that Bill Walker told lawmakers she was “enrolled” in, but she wasn’t.)  McDonald’s superiors demanded to know why.  According to emails obtained by KATV, he told them “an interpreter we hire should be able to interpret from the start.”  (This guy clearly doesn’t know how government works!)

Regarding Miss Taylor’s score on a signing ability test (QAST) with a scale from 1 (the worst) to 5 (the best), McDonald said Taylor “did not even achieve a 1.”  Out of three interpreting assignments Taylor has been on, he said she has received three complaints.

McDonald went on to say that “If the interpreter is not qualified and makes mistakes, lives are impacted” and that the hiring of unqualified interpreters is “an injustice to the people we are charged with serving.”

Clearly, this plot to remove unqualified people from governmental positions is nothing but a right-wing conspiracy.  How dare Mr. McDonald insist on elementary performance standards in his role as a steward of taxpayer dollars!  Someone should write him up for insubordination…

But look, Bill Walker’s Deputy Director, Robert Trevino, is on the case:  in an email, he called McDonald’s actions “out-of-line” and “disappointing,” even suggesting that they might constitute “insubordination.”  KATV says McDonald now fears for his job.


I spoke with Representative Bryan King this afternoon about all of this.  As a member of the legislature’s personnel committee, he has been following the situation closely for several weeks and asking some tough questions of state agency officials.  King says he is keeping a close eye on these latest developments as well:

“I’ve emailed Bob Trevino and asked to meet with him this week.  I have also asked for more information about his comments regarding Mr. McDonald.  At this point, I have not received a response.”

The interpreter reportedly started her classes last week.  Maybe someday she’ll actually be able to sign (unrealistic, I realize, but a guy can dream).

And remember that ‘listening tour’ Walker went on in the deaf community?  Walker described it the next day as a “good healthy meeting” that helped create a “greater respect and appreciation.”  But attendees apparently had some less flattering reviews to offer:  the president of the Arkansas Association of the Deaf emailed Walker a week later, saying

“In no way were we happy or satisfied with your plan. We do not believe another face to face meeting with you would be beneficial since you have stated that you will not remove the unqualified interpreter, period.”

Walker has not publicly shown any signs of changing course regarding Miss Taylor’s employment–in fact he’s been misleading lawmakers and apparently digging his feet in deeper–but there have been rumors swirling that Miss Taylor may be moved into another newly created position within the agency.  As corrupt as that seems (and is), at least members of the deaf community may finally be able to have their needs met…which is, presumably, the whole point the position exists in the first place.  Even if the people who run the Department of Career Education don’t appear to think so.

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The Arkansas Project