Service dog to help Mills Lawn student in question
- Published: September 13, 2013
The Yellow Springs school board heard a public request at the start of yesterday’s meeting from a parent who would like her son to be allowed to bring a service dog to school with him.
Judy Kintner spoke to the board on behalf of her son, Jonah, who was recently paired with a service dog, Clank, a golden retriever, from 4 Paws for Service. Jonah, 10, who is on an individualized education plan, or IEP, takes daily medication for high amounts of anxiety and stress, as well as difficulty concentrating. Last month he was paired with Clank, a service dog who is trained to give Jonah a constant companion and help him to concentrate and feel more relaxed throughout his school day. According to Kintner, the school so far has told her that her son may not have the dog in school. Because she feels it is her son’s legal right to have one, she has filed a complaint for due process with the Ohio Department of Education and started a petition in the village with about 350 signatures in favor of the service dog.
The schools did not comment during the meeting because of what Board President Benji Maruyama said was a pending lawsuit on the issue. But Maruyama said that the board was in full “receive mode” and “we absolutely value public education and will do the best we can do to educate all of our students.”
Kintner also stated that Superintendent Mario Basora had agreed to speak with her further on Monday to see if the two sides could reach an agreement. She is hopeful, she said during the meeting, that that can happen.
More on the story will appear in the next week’s News.
3 Responses to “Service dog to help Mills Lawn student in question”
I’m sure the school denied the request because there are so many questions and unknown factors. Just a few that come to mind: Would the school be liable for lawsuits if they deny other students service dogs with similar situations? If a service dog is being requested for comfort, how many children would be eligible? What if the dog bites someone, would the school be held liable? What if other students have allergies or are fearful of dogs? How many children or teachers would be distracted by a dog in a learning environment? Who would be required to take care of the dog by feeding it and letting it out to us the restroom? It will be interesting to see how this plays out and I’m hoping it does so without a lawsuit. Unless the dog performs a “task” other than comfort, I don’t see the school being legally required to allow the dog in the school.
I would have to agree with Ms Thinnes re the use of a service dog to accompany a student at Mills Lawn School. As a former school board chairman in Vermont I have observed a wide variety of special needs children and this particular student is but one more example of such a student. It would indeed be a pity if this could only be resolved in court.
If the dog is a service dog helping with a physical disability, the school district would not have the authority to legally deny it due to ADA. But if the service dog is for emotional purposes, ADA doesn’t apply, though IDEA may. I would have hoped Yellow Springs would have taken a more progressive posture and allowed the service dog to be at school, or at least to give it a try! A nearby school district allowed a teacher who was training a service dog to have the service dog with her at school full-time for several months so the dog could be trained to work in a school environment. According to a teacher there who lives in Yellow Springs, “everybody enjoyed the dog being at school.”
In that case, it was the school district’s choice and that district chose to accept a service dog-in-training.
This is becoming a big issue all over and how it will all play out is unknown. But does our school district really want to spend money denying this request when the service dog could prove to be a tremendous benefit?