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PARENTS OF DEAF STUDENT WIN AGAINST COUNCIL

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The family of a deaf teenager, struggling for control of his educational future, successfully fought off a high cou...
The family of a deaf teenager, struggling for control of his educational future, successfully fought off a high court challenge from their local education authority.
The parents of the 17-year-old boy - referred to as 'C' in court - were told by Wakefield MDC last year that he would have to complete his education at Wakefield College, which has
no speech and language therapy facilities.
They successfully challenged the council's stance at the special educational needs tribunal (SENT) on October 4 but today faced a high court battle with the council who claimed the
SENT's decision was wrong.
But top judge, Mr justice Collins, sitting at London's high court, ruled that 'C''s education would suffer if the council had its way and dismissed the appeal, also ordering the council to
pay almost£4,000 in legal costs.
'C', who lives in Wakefield, is profoundly deaf. He is currently studying engineering at GVNQ level at a specialist deaf college and is also registered at a school for the deaf.
He was first given a statement of special educational needs by the council in 1986 when he was three which continued until last year when it was withdrawn as he had reached
school-leaving age.
The council claimed that Wakefield College was adequate to meet his special needs. But the SENT ruled that, unless he had specialist speech and language therapy to help him
communicate, his development would suffer.
Mr justice Collins rejected claims that the SENT's decision was wrong in law.
He said that 'C' was 'plainly doing well' at the college outside Wakefield MDC's administrative area chosen for him by his parents.
'Going by the findings of the tribunal, he is only likely to be held up if he does not get the necessary therapy to help him in being understood by those with whom he has to converse.
'He obviously will have greater difficulty finding a job if he can't make himself understood.
'The local education authority can be forgiven for not having appreciated the central importance of speech and language therapy because it was not something which had been focused
on before the hearing before the tribunal.'
But the judge concluded that the education chosen for him by his parents 'provides the rounded educational facilities which he requires.'
The council's appeal was dismissed and it was ordered to pay£3,776.58 in legal costs.
'C''s father said afterwards: 'I'm very relieved and happy with the result.
'Its very important for other deaf children. If the appeal had been allowed it would have left the way open for other authorities to do the same to get out of the financial element of their
responsibility.'
STRAND NEWS SERVICE
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