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February 7, 2003

Court says school district must reimburse parents of deaf child

From: Concord Monitor, NH - 07 Feb 2003

By AP Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. - The Stratham School District must reimburse a couple for travel expenses and other costs associated with the programing of their deaf son's cochlear implant, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Joseph DiClerico upheld a state education department ruling that the school district was responsible for the costs under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The case involved a 7-year-old boy, Hunter, who in 1999 underwent surgery to receive a cochlear implant, which sends auditory signals to the brain to restore hearing in people with certain types of hearing loss.

Afterward, he made repeated trips to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon to have the implant's speech processor "mapped" or programed. During those appointments, a specially trained audiologist used a computer to determine the proper level of electrical current needed to stimulate electrodes implanted in the ear.

In April 2000, Hunter's mother began seeking reimbursement for mileage for the trips to Lebanon. The following year, she also asked for reimbursement for the insurance co-payments of $10 per visit the family paid for the appointments, but the school district rejected both requests.

School officials argued that the federal law does not cover cochlear implant services because the implant is not an acoustical hearing aid and is not included specifically in the law.

But the court said that since the school district's education plan for the boy is based on his using the cochlear implant to communicate, it must provide services necessary for him to use the device.

Friday, Feb 7, 2003

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