Maui parent sues DOE for lack of deaf, hard-of-hearing services - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Maui parent sues DOE for lack of deaf, hard-of-hearing services for students

KAHULUI, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A Maui mother is suing the Department of Education, claiming it's unable to provide the deaf and hard-of-hearing services that her daughter needs.

Coty Luke is not talking about American Sign Language, she says it's called an “oral system."

Her daughter, Taysia-Lee, is near deaf. But the implants she has can make her hear, and Luke wants Taysia-Lee to be able to speak without using sign language.

Taysia-Lee will be 5 next week. She loves doing what normal almost 5-year-old girls love to do, like playing with her brothers, and watching the movie, "Frozen." A picture of Olaf, a character in the movie, is even on her cochlear implants, which she calls her "ears."

"She was so talkative and so oral before that to us, cochlear implant was the only thing, the only choice to make. We wanted her to hear the world, so we did that and it was the best decision we ever made," Luke said.

As far as Luke knows, Taysia-Lee could hear when she was born. But just before she turned 3, doctors told her Taysia-Lee had severe to profound hearing loss in both ears.

"I still remember it. Sitting in the waiting room for her to come out, they have to be sedated for that kind of test. So the doctor came out, told us the bad news and I just remember crying," Luke said.

Now, Tayshia-Lee is preparing for kindergarten and her mom has learned that the DOE on Maui doesn't offer the learning program that she says is best suited for a child with cochlear implants.

A lawsuit filed last month calls on the DOE to offer certain specialized learning programs.

The DOE wouldn't comment on the case, but says the programs it offers on Maui meet all education guidelines.

Luke disagrees and wants to state to make changes to help her daughter and others like her. 

“She didn't ask to be this way. And they do have for example an ASL teacher, American Sign Language teacher, and there's kids in that program, and I'm thinking, if we chose that mode, she'd have a teacher," she said.

There are approximately 300 deaf and hard of hearing students in Hawaii public schools. The DOE says it offers specialized programs to meet each child's specific needs.

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