Service Dog Update
The Illinois boy with autism who I wrote about the other day will be allowed to bring his service dog to school, at least for a short time after the district discusses accommodations and before a full court hearing takes place.
I’m happy that the dog and boy will stay together, and I’m also glad that some of the district’s infuriating arguments were disregarded. The district claims the dog is not a true service dog because he isn’t listed in the boy’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). But the boy’s doctors said he should get a dog, and the dog was specially trained for several thousand dollars, paid for by the parents — that sounds like a service dog to me.
IEP’s can’t be as comprehensive as full medical evaluations; they’re basically lists of learning goals, and shouldn’t override doctors’ orders. And, because the district doesn’t want the dog in class, of course they wouldn’t recommend a dog in an IEP. You can’t conclude that the boy doesn’t need the dog just because the district left dogs out of the document.
This statement by the district Superintendent is misleading:
“If 230 students were to bring animals, it would be catastrophic to the degree it would be uncontrollable and very unhealthy to the students,” Settles said.
We’re not talking about pets brought for show and tell, but animals (usually dogs; I don’t know which other animals the district is expecting) that help children cope with serious medical problems. Dogs have to go through a lot of screening and training before they are given to patients. “Uncontrollable” animals don’t make the cut. I should hope the district would not advance similar arguments against a service dog used because of epilepsy or vision impairment. Autism deserves equal consideration.
Although the judge issued an injunction in the boy’s favor, I’m standing by my assertion that he would be better off with tuition tax credits. No one should have to attend a school that resents his service dog and that fought hard in court to exclude it.