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February 10, 2003

Ruling Expected In Special Education Law

From: WMUR-TV, NH - 10 Feb 2003

Court To Decide If School Should Pay For Services

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- A landmark federal ruling in New Hampshire this week could greatly expand which services must now be provided to disabled children under special education laws.

At the center of the case is a 6-year-old boy who regained his hearing through a medical procedure.

Born deaf, Hunter Petit had a cochlear implant when he was 2.

The complicated device would give him his hearing and a chance to succeed in school.

Stratham schools are bound to pay for all special education services, but no district has even been asked to cover costs associated with the implant.

Without the cochlear implant, Hunter's options were limited. His parents said that he would be completely deaf and could only communicate through sign language.

On Wednesday, a federal judge ruled Hunter does need the implant maintained to get an education.

The district argued that the implant is well beyond the breadth of the special education law.

They fear schools will now have to pay to maintain implants and other medical devices.

The Petits did not ask the school to pay for the surgery, only their mileage and the $10 co-payment to keep the implant tuned.

While the court settled who will pay, there was never a question as to who benefited.

Copyright 2003 by All rights reserved.