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January 7, 2004

Judge says Ascension can "cluster" deaf students in one school

From: Sarasota Herald-Tribune, FL - Jan 7, 2004

The Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The Ascension Parish School Board broke no laws when it decided to cluster deaf students at one school, a federal judge has ruled.

In a decision made public Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Ralph Tyson said neither state nor federal law prevent Dutchtown High School freshman Buddy Veazey - who is hearing impaired - from being forced to attend a centralized school site rather than his neighborhood campus.

Tyson, in a six-page decision, frequently cited a recent 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision this summer. The three-judge panel overturned a ruling by U.S. District Judge James Brady against the Ascension Parish School Board in a similar case on behalf of student Dylan White.

At issue is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a federal law that guarantees all children with disabilities access to a free and appropriate public education.

John and Tonya Veazey of Prairieville sued the Ascension Parish School Board and others in 1998 to keep their then-third-grade son in his neighborhood school like his hearing peers, rather than clustering him with other deaf students which would save money for the School Board.

Buddy was born deaf but now has a cochlear implant that gives him some ability to hear. He requires a cued-speech transliterator in the classroom who supplements lip-reading and partial hearing with hand and finger motions, rather than translating from spoken to sign language.

The estimated cost of a transliterator is $11,000 per year for each student.

Information from: The Advocate

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