Accommodating a Service Dog
The Grade has posted excerpts from the Columbia Community Unit School District’s statement about the service dog a judge has ordered it to accept (which I’ve written about here and here).
This part doesn’t make sense to me:
“The District’s compliance with the Preliminary Injunction will have a direct and negative impact on at least one other student who attends the Early Childhood Program,” the statement said. “Specifically, the District is aware of at least one child who will suffer serious physical harm if he is exposed to animal hair. Additionally, the District is aware of multiple other children with medical conditions which may be impacted by the presence of a dog.”
Accommodating the dog “is not a simple matter of moving students from one room to another, or even one building to another,” the statement goes on to say.
I can’t believe every other student in the program would be adversely affected by a dog. So put the kids who can handle it with the dog, and the others in another room or building. I could sympathize if the district said moving students between rooms or buildings was a big hassle that required lot of schedule changes. But why is the district implying that wouldn’t even solve the problem?
A public school can’t serve everyone, and that’s especially apparent in the case of students with disabilities. If a child has such a severe allergy to animal hair that he can’t be in the same building as a dog, that child would still have a problem if his classmates hugged their pet dogs, then came to school with animal hair on their clothes. Is the district going to forbid pets at home? How else could they protect that child?
Very specialized schools are better able to deal with students’ severe medical problems than a public schools that has to be open to all. A broad tuition tax credit program would go a long way towards giving these kids better options.