[nagdu] Students sue Ind. schools over service dog rules
GingerKutsch at yahoo.com
Sun Sep 1 15:49:41 UTC 2013
Students sue Ind. schools over service dog rules
By CHARLES WILSON, Associated Press
Saturday, August 31, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Two disabled high school students have sued the
Evansville-Vanderburgh school district over policies that they say restrict
the use of service dogs they require to attend class.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the federal lawsuit
Thursday in Evansville, asking for a preliminary injunction to force the
school to admit the service dogs. Barring the animals violates the Americans
With Disabilities Act, according to the complaint filed by ACLU attorney
According to the complaint, the school district announced on the first day
of this school year that a new policy required disabled students to carry
$100,000 liability insurance on their service animal and provide detailed
information about their disabilities and why the animal is needed and how it
is trained, and whether it is spayed or neutered. The school district gave
the students only 10 business days in which to file the required paperwork.
One of the plaintiffs is a 16-year-old sophomore with severe diabetes whose
dog is trained to alert her in cases of dangerous drops in blood sugar that
can lead to serious injury or death, the ACLU said, but she has had to
attend school with the service dog.
The other plaintiff is a 15-year-old sophomore with a rare disorder that
causes pain, seizures and lack of balance. The school district allowed her
to bring her dog to school after her mother said she would contact local
media about the policy, the document said.
After the families sought legal counsel, the district modified the policy,
but it still requires proof that the animal is needed and will be safe
around other students and retains the 10-day requirement, the ACLU said.
Rose wrote that the school policies go beyond what is allowed under the ADA
and show "reckless disregard for the rights of students with disabilities."
School district attorney Pat Shoulders told the Evansville Courier & Press
that the lawsuit was "frivolous." Officials told the newspaper both students
attended school without service dogs last year.
"We're simply trying to work through those issues before we have this dog
sitting next to someone else's child in class - pure and simple," Shoulders
told the Courier & Press. "We ask in the situation of these dogs, that
similar to what we require of humans, there be some showing that these dogs
don't present a safety risk, that they're trained for the role they're to
play. And secondly, that in terms of contagious conditions, that they're
The district asked the court to dismiss the case Friday, arguing the
students and their parents have not exhausted other administrative remedies.
Shoulders said the families resisted filling the required paperwork, but one
dog was allowed in school after officials received "assurances" the dog was
required and could be safely introduced into a student population. He said
an examination at a veterinary clinic showed the other dog had fecal
tapeworms and fleas.
The ALCU lawsuit said federal law allows public entities to make two
inquiries about the need for the animal when the person's disability is not
obvious, but it does not allow them to require documentation or to ask about
the extent of a person's disability.
Follow Charles Wilson on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CharlesDWilson
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