Father Wins Battle for Son to Take Sign Language as Foreign Language Requirement

Jeremy Ladanowski

Update since article was published:

Broward County Public Schools is not to blame for sign language not being offered. Atlantic Vocational School did not offer American sign language to meet the foreign language requirement. The school board is going to work on building a better website that describes all of the different foreign language options, including sign language. I apologize for the misunderstanding. – Carly Levy.

By: Carly Levy

After a long battle, one father has won the fight against Broward County Public Schools to allow his son to take American Sign Language as his foreign language requirement.

Coral Springs resident Andrew Ladanowski has won his two-year battle with the school district to allow his son Jeremy, 16, who has Speech Apraxia, take American Sign Language (ASL) as his foreign language requirement. Ladanowski said Jeremy’s Speech Apraxia made it hard for him to take a verbal language because he would have to say the words out loud.

“It’s hard for him to learn phonetics if he can’t say the words. It makes it very difficult.”

For the past two years, Ladanowski has traveled to Tallahassee to push for a bill that would allow Jeremy to take a computer language as his foreign language requirement and the bill failed. Former teacher and State Representative Rene Plasencia of Orlando worked with Ladanowski recommended that he take ASL at Pasco County Virtual School where he has been enrolled since the beginning of the school year.

Jeremy’s guidance counselor provided him with a private tutor to visit him twice a week at Atlantic Vocational Technical School to further aid him with ASL classes.

Speech Apraxia is a motor speech disorder where the messages from the brain to the mouth are delayed and the person cannot move their lips or tongue to the right place to say the sounds correctly. Those with Speech Apraxia know the words they want to say but their brains have trouble coordinating the muscles needed to say all the sounds in the words.

Ladanowski said that once he learned that ASL classes could be used for Jeremy’s foreign language requirement, he was worried that his son would develop dyspraxia, affecting the fine motor skills of his hands. Thankfully, along with tutoring, Ladanowski realized that Jeremy could excel in ASL.

Ladanowski was surprised that ASL classes were not offered to other students in Jeremy’s high school, making Jeremy the only student who is taking it.

“With 700 students I’m sure three or four of them would have been interested in taking it online in addition to their work load,” said Ladanowski.

Other than ASL, Jeremy does very well in math and science. He also excels in playing video games and enjoys hanging out with his friends.

“I think the majority of people are very accepting of him and they will have the patience to try to understand him,” said Ladanowski.

Ladanowski’s hope is that ASL classes are offered along with all other foreign languages in Broward County Public Schools and he hopes that in the future, Jeremy will be able to use what he has learned to communicate with the deaf community.

About Carly Levy

Carly Levy Carly Levy was born and raised in Coral Springs. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Film and minored in theatre. Her goal is to leave a mark on the world with her writing in any way that she can.

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  • Lesley123

    So glad the father prevailed. Parents need to advocate for their kids…because honestly, i think the school districts just won’t. Stunning that it took 2 years for this father to prevail given the circumstances. Stunning and sad. Schools should work for students, not do everything they can to work against them.

    • lkaw56

      More kids SHOULD be able to take it. Becoming proficient at sign is a great skill and can be a career path. My cousin in Vegas worked for a company ,then on her own and made $60 hour with a minimum of hours required so she got paid for that whether she worked the whole time. This was many years ago so the pay rate may be higher. In some places it would probalby not pay as much but even $40 an hour is worth it.

      • yongo

        Do you have an idea what this would cost the taxpayers if only one or two students per school take this course? Will it be taught in every school so that we have equality for all interested? Maybe we can provide school busses to shuttle these students back and forth to schools that are teaching this course and if that be the case will they have time to get back to their school before the next class starts. Very few if any of our teachers make 60.00 an hour maybe none. I am not against the idea however a lot of thought must go into this and a lot of money.

        • Lesley123

          Our school offers it and it fills up immediately. Kids want to take this as opposed to a foreign language. I think it’s a better idea because unless you start a foreign language very young, you don’t get much out of it…at least that’s my experience.

  • Thank you for your message. Our author is now aware of this and we have posted a retraction/correction at the beginning of the article to clarify that ASL is not offered as a foreign language requirement at Atlantic Technical School.