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Last Updated: 04/12/2018

 Ask the Advocate with Calvin & Tricia Luker


Question:  Is my child eligible for assistive technology in the home provided by the school?


Answer:  School districts are required to provide computers for use at home by students with disabilities if such home use is required for FAPE and so specified in the student's IEP.

Assistive technology devices as defined in 34 C.F.R. 300.5 include personal computers when needed to receive FAPE. Letter to Anonymous, 29 IDELR 1089 (OSEP 1997).

An IEP team must consider whether home use of a personal computer, or any assistive technology device, is required for FAPE. New section 308 (b) states: "On a case-by-case basis, the use of school-purchased assistive technology devices in a child's home or in other settings is required if the child's IEP team determines that the child needs access to those devices in order to receive FAPE." Accord, Letter to Culbreath, 25 IDELR 1212 (OSEP 1997) (IEP team must determine whether the student needs to take the assistive technology device home in order to receive appropriate education).

When a district is required to provide a personal computer for-at-home use, the computer remains the property of the school district; its use is allowed in the form of a restricted loan. It is consistent with the IDEA that the school district be responsible for at least reasonable repairs. However under the IDEA, a school district may choose to make parents responsible for damage due to unauthorized use or unwarranted damage.

The definition of "assistive technology services" in 34 C.F.R. 300.6(b)-(c) includes not only "purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the assistive technology devices," but also "applying . . . repairing or replacing . . . them." Thus, OSEP has stated that when a school district purchases a computer for use by a student in school or at home, it is responsible for maintaining the computer, Letter to Anonymous, 21 IDELR 1057 (OSEP 1994).

The Notice of Interpretation accompanying the 1999 final regulations affirms that parents cannot be charged for repairs of computers at home resulting from normal use, wear and tear. DOE also opined, however that "State law, rather than Part B generally would govern whether parents are liable for loss, theft, or damage due to negligence or misuse of publicly owned equipment used at home or in other settings in accordance with the student's IEP."

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