[nagdu] Parent Sues School District Over Service Dog

Ginger Kutsch GingerKutsch at yahoo.com
Mon Jan 27 17:53:31 UTC 2014

FYI. An interesting case where the parent's disability rights lawyer
believes school districts should train classroom aides to handle service
dogs in addition to all other duties they perform for their disabled


Parent Sues School District Over Service Dog For Son With Cerebral Palsy

By Kathryn Schroeder, Sun, January 26, 2014



Anthony Marchante, 6, has cerebral palsy. He requires the assistance of his
medium-sized terrier service dog, Stevie, to alert others to oncoming
convulsions and to help calm him down.


Anthony's mother has filed a federal lawsuit against the Broward School
Board, claiming discrimination because of too many barriers to gain approval
for her son's service dog to be allowed on campus with him.


Anthony's mother, Monica Alboniga, was told by the district that she had to
provide liability insurance for the dog and additional vaccinations that did
not exist.


The district later waived those requirements, but asked Albonigo to provide
a handler for the dog since Anthony was not capable of serving as one.


In the suit against the school district, Albonigo claims the district is
"inflicting extreme hardship on her and violating the Americans with
Disabilities Act and The Rehabilitation Act by implementing excessive
procedural hurdles," reports the SunSentinel.


Albonigo wants the district to amend its policies and pay her legal fees.


The school district declined to comment on the lawsuit.


They do admit that they are discussing implementing a new service animal
policy, but it would still require a handler to be provided and insurance.


"There's not a lot of [school] districts that have a policy," said
compliance director Dildra Martin-Ogburn to the SunSentinel. "Service
animals have been around for a long time but it's just coming on board where
they are coming to schools."


At this time, Stevie is the only service animal in the district.  


Alboniga goes to school with Stevie each day acting as his handler; she is
not allowed to help Anthony in any other way.


"I have to be in complete silence all the time just looking at the dog. You
always feel uncomfortable," said Alboniga.


Furthermore, adds Albonigo, Stevie does not eat or drink at the school and
rarely does he need to go to the bathroom.


Matthew Dietz, a disability rights lawyer representing Alboniga, believes
school districts should train classroom aides to handle service dogs.


"When you are dealing with a seriously disabled child like Anthony, you're
feeding, you're toileting, you're doing all these personal services," he
said. "It would be no problem for that to be an additional duty."


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