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Gov. Holcomb announces Superintendent James Durst to retire this fall

He has been superintendent since 2001

                                       james durst

INDIANAPOLIS – Governor Eric J. Holcomb has announced Superintendent James Durst will retire from the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ISBVI) effective September 30, after serving the ISBVI for 33 years in leadership roles.

“I’m so grateful for the decades Superintendent Durst spent as a dedicated educational leader serving Hoosiers who are blind and visually impaired as well as their families and wider communities,” said Gov. Holcomb. “In recent years, he prepared the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired for major upcoming capital improvements, including the eventual world class co-location of the Indiana School for Deaf on its campus.”

Durst was appointed Superintendent of the ISBVI in 2001 following 10 years of service as principal at the school. He also had over a decade of teaching and educational leadership in West Virginia.

As one of the largest state schools in the nation serving students who are blind or have low vision, IBSVI enrolls 110 students spanning preschool through high school, approximately 40 of whom are residential, as well as directly serving over 300 students across 46 school districts. The school offers a wide array of other programming aligned to its statutory mission of serving Hoosier students with visual disabilities.

During his tenure at the school, Durst was instrumental in the following accomplishments:

  • Reorganized and expanded the school’s Outreach Program, Short Course Program and summer programs and camps to serve hundreds of students across multiple school districts.
  • Completed numerous capital and technology projects on campus, including the complete renovation of the school’s 1920s era auditorium with the support of the Indiana Blind Children’s Foundation and Lilly Endowment, Inc.
  • The renaming of the school from the Indiana School for the Blind to the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
  • Implementation of the Unified English Braille code and proficiency requirements for teachers.
  • Served as president for two national organizations, the Council of Schools for the Blind and the Principals of Schools for the Blind.
  • Developing comprehensive strategic plans and the current five-year strategic plan through 2027.
  • Planning and preparation for the eventual co-location of the Indiana School for the Deaf on ISBVI’s campus, including the multiyear continuation of operations offsite beginning the 2024-2025 school year as the campus undergoes extensive renovations and construction.
  • Established a statewide prison braille program in collaboration with the Indiana Department of Correction to employ incarcerated adults at Miami Correctional Facility to transcribe and provide low-cost braille, large print, and accessible formats for school-age children.

“I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the support and collaboration you have provided to me and the school as board members,” said James Durst. “Our shared commitment to providing an outstanding education for the students at the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired has been the driving force behind our accomplishments.”

The ISBVI Board will lead a search to appoint a new Superintendent and intends to name a new superintendent by the time of Durst’s retirement in September.

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