Canines in the Classroom: Service Animals in Primary and Secondary Educational Institutions
4 Journal of Animal Law & Ethics 11 (2011).
52 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2010 Last revised: 21 Aug 2012
Date Written: April 7, 2010
This Article focuses on the issue of whether a child with a disability has the legal right to attend a primary or secondary school with a service animal. It begins by setting forth basic information regarding the children who are currently receiving special education services and discussing the increasing number of animals placed into service with individuals under the age of eighteen, focusing on the recent trend of utilizing service animals to assist children with an autism spectrum disorder. Studies relating to the common argument against allowing service animals in schools – the impact of service animals on others with allergies to animal dander – are then examined. The Article continues with a brief summary of the federal law to provide a platform for analysis of the major cases in this area. As state laws that expand the rights of students appear to be an effective tool in litigation in this area, several of these laws are evaluated along with descriptions of language likely to be found in school district policies. State laws providing for trainers of service animals to have access to public accommodations, including schools, are then analyzed. The Article concludes by arguing that school districts need to be prepared with policies that provide for compliance with the law while still considering the impact of such animals on the school environment generally, given the legislative trends in this area.
Keywords: animal law, service animals, disability, education law
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