PCSSD - 7.19P1: Service Animals in District Facilities

7.19P1: Service Animals in District Facilities

GENERAL INFORMATION

The Pulaski County Special School District (hereafter, the District) acknowledges its responsibility to permit students and adults with disabilities to be accompanied by a “service animal” in its buildings, classrooms, and at school-related functions, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended. Service animals may also be permitted in particular circumstances under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (§504).

DISTRICT POLICY

  1. The District will comply with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations concerning the use of service animals on District property and in connection with District services. The District will develop procedures to implement this policy and permit the use of service animals by individuals with disabilities, taking into consideration the individual circumstances of the request, its impact on others and in accordance with existing District policies.
  2. It is the responsibility of the handler or the individual assisted by a service animal to ensure that the animal is properly controlled and functioning as a service animal, to supervise the animal at all times while on District property, and to be liable and pay for any damage caused by the animal to the same extent any individual would be charged for such damages.
  3. No individual shall intentionally interfere with the use or assistance of a service animal by harassing or obstructing the service animal or its user.

SERVICE ANIMAL DEFINED

  1. A “service animal” must be a dog or, in limited specific circumstances, a miniature horse. No other species of animal, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, will be permitted as a service animal (ADA, Final Regulations). There are no size or weight limitations on a service animal.
    1. Miniature Horses: The District will make reasonable modifications in policies, practices and procedures to permit the use of a miniature horse by an individual with a disability if the miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability. In determining whether reasonable modifications in policies, practice or procedures can be made to allow a miniature horse into a specific facility, the school must consider the following factors:
      1. The type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate these features;
      2. Whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse;
      3. Whether the miniature horse is housebroken; and
      4. Whether the miniature horse’s presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation.
  2. All additional requirements outlined in this policy which apply to service animals shall apply to miniature horses. Requests to permit a miniature horse to accompany a student or adult with a disability on school property and/or facilities and/or at school functions will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
  3. A service animal must be “required” for the individual with a disability. The service animal must be individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability. The service animal’s performance of such work or tasks must be directly related to the functional limitation of the individual’s disability. These tasks may include, but are not limited to, guiding an individual who is visually impaired or blind (a “guide dog”), alerting or assisting a person who has seizures or impaired hearing (a “signal dog”), retrieving objects, preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behavior by persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities, pulling a wheelchair or performing other special tasks (a “service dog”).
  4. Animals whose sole function is to provide entertainment, emotional support, comfort, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or to promote emotional well-being are considered pets or comfort animals and do not fall within the ADA’s definition of service animal. Service animals are working animals and are not pets. However, other statutes (specifically §504 and the IDEA) might provide more rights or encompass more animals as a matter of providing a “free appropriate public education (FAPE)” to a student with disabilities. Such decisions must be considered by the appropriate §504 Services Plan Committee or IDEA Individualized Education Program (IEP) Committee for a given student with disabilities.
  5. If it is obvious what service the animal provides to the individual with a disability, then staff should not make any further inquiries regarding the tasks performed by the service animal (i.e., a guide dog for an individual with impaired vision). Only limited inquiries are allowed by District staff to determine if a dog is a service animal when it is not obvious what service the dog provides, and staff may ask only the following two questions:
    1. Is the service animal required because of a disability?
    2. What work or task has the service animal been trained to perform?
  6. Staff cannot ask about the individual’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the service animal, require the service animal to wear an identifying vest, or ask that the service animal demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.
  7. Service animals are not considered pets, classroom animals, or curriculum aids. Their access to the District’s facilities is governed by federal and state law as well as District policies and procedures. In general, “therapy,” “comfort,” or “companion” animals are not service animals and issues regarding these animals are addressed as Non-Service Animals at School.
  8. Dogs that are trained to provide aggressive protection, such as “attack dogs”, can be excluded. However, the commentary specifies that breeds of dog that are “perceived to be aggressive because of breed reputation, stereotype, or the history or experience the observer may have with other dogs” cannot be excluded from schools unless:
    1. The dog is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it;
    2. The dog is not housebroken; or
    3. The presence of the dog constitutes a “fundamental alteration” in the nature of the service, program or activity.
  9. The ADA Code of Federal Regulations does not allow local animal ordinances to impose greater requirements or conflicting requirements than those under the federal disability law. By way of example, school districts cannot exclude a specific breed regardless of city or county codes that impose bans on specific breeds such as pit bulls. Further, exclusions based on local animal ordinances that require animal registration or tags/markings indicating that the animal is a service dog are also not allowed.

SAFETY

When on the District’s property:

  1. A service animal shall be under the control of its handler at all times.
  2. The service animal shall have a harness, leash or other tether, unless doing so interferes with the service animal’s safe, effective performance of work or tasks.
  3. If a leash or tether is not used, the service animal must be under the voice or signal control of the handler.

SERVICE DOGS IN TRAINING

Experienced trainers of service animals may be accompanied on school property by a dog that is in training to become a service animal. The dog must be at least six months of age. Trainers must wear a jacket identifying the organization to which they belong. Persons conducting continuing training of a service animal may be accompanied by a service animal while on school property for the purpose of school business. Persons who are part of a three-unit service dog team may be accompanied by a service dog while on school property provided that person is conducting continuing training of a service dog. A three-unit service dog team consists of a trained service dog, a disabled person, and a person who is an adult and who has been trained to handle the service dog. The dogs may accompany these persons while on school property for school purposes.

  1. Use of Harnesses, leash, etc. A dog that is in training to become a guide dog or a currently trained guide dog that is undergoing continuing training must be in a harness, on a leash, etc.
  2. A dog that is in training to become a signal dog or a currently trained signal dog that is undergoing continuing training must be on a blaze orange leash.
  3. The training cannot disrupt or interfere with a school’s educational process. It is expected that training would not normally take place in the classroom during instructional time.
  4. All requirements of this policy which apply to service animals, such as health certificates, annual written requests, and supervision, care and damages also apply to dogs in training.

SERVICE ANIMAL ACCESS IN PCSSD CLASSROOMS & FACILITIES

Service animals are permitted to accompany visitors at activities or events held in the District’s schools or facilities, with the exception of some areas that may be restricted access. The building principal or the Compliance/EEO Office should be contacted in advance of the visit in case special arrangements are needed.

LONG-TERM SERVICE ANIMAL ACCESS

  1. Long-term access is defined as daily, extended or repeated access to one or more District classrooms or facilities during the school or work day.
  2. Employees, students, contractors or frequent volunteers who require the assistance of a service animal on a consistent basis should work with the building principal to do the following:
    1. Complete Service Animal Long-Term Access Form, available from the principal.
    2. Develop a plan for use of the service animal which will include the following:
    3. Emergency evacuation;
    4. Entry and egress points;
    5. Areas where the animal will urinate/defecate;
    6. Waste removal;
    7. Leash requirements;
    8. Building restrictions;
    9. Fire drill participation;
    10. An alternate accommodation/plan in the event the service animal’s primary handler (if not the child) or the service animal is not able to accompany the disabled child to school due to illness, injury or death;
    11. Training for any others who may handle the service animal, other than the primary handler, if necessary; and
    12. A school-wide educational program to educate others on how to behave appropriately around the service animal.
  3. The service animal is permitted to accompany the child to school and/or school functions while the long-term access process is being completed.

SERVICE ANIMAL STANDARDS OF BEHAVIOR

The service animal must not disrupt or interfere with the learning or work environment. The behavioral expectations for the service animal include the following:

  1. Animal is clean and does not have a foul odor.
  2. Animal is under control of its handler.
  3. Animal does not urinate or defecate in inappropriate locations.
  4. Animal shall not make unsolicited contact with persons while on school property or on the school bus.
  5. Animal’s conduct does not disrupt the normal course of school business.
  6. Animal works without unnecessary vocalization.
  7. Animal shows no aggression toward people or other animals.
  8. Animal does not solicit or steal food or other items from persons while on school property.
  9. Animal has been specifically trained to perform its duties in public and is accustomed to being in public.
  10. Animal must be able to lie quietly beside the handler without blocking aisles, doorways, etc.
  11. Animal stays within close proximity of the individual at all times unless the nature of a specific task requires it to be working at a greater distance.

RESPONSIBILITY AND LIABILITY FOR A SERVICE ANIMAL

The right of an individual with a disability to bring a service animal to school is not absolute, nor does the District provide service animals. The District does not assume responsibility for training, daily care, or healthcare of service animals. It is the responsibility of the individual assisted by a service animal to ensure that the serviced animal is properly leashed or tethered, to supervise and control the animal at all times while on District property, and to pay for any property damage caused by the animal.

  1. All animals must be treated for, and kept free of, fleas and ticks and other pests.
  2. All animals must be kept clean and groomed to avoid shedding and dander.
  3. The owner/handler of the service animal is solely responsible and liable for any damage, harm or injury caused by the animal to other students, staff, visitors and/or property.
  4. The service animal shall have a harness, backpack, leash (blaze orange in color for signal dogs), or other tether, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use one of the above, or the use of such would interfere with the service animal’s safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the animal must be otherwise under the handler’s control.
  5. The District is not responsible for the care or supervision of the service animal, such as walking the animal or responding to the animal’s need to relieve itself. The owner/handler of the service animal must always carry equipment sufficient to clean up the animal’s waste, immediately remove the waste, and be responsible for the proper disposal of the animal’s waste.
  6. Students with service animals are expected to care for and supervise their animal. In the case of a young child or a student with disabilities who is unable to care for or supervise his service animal, the student’s parents/guardians are responsible for providing care and supervision of the animal. Issues related to the care and supervision of service animals will be addressed on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the Principal or designee.
  7. If the request is for a service dog, the person making the request must provide annual proof of the following vaccinations: DHLPPC (Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Paroinfluenza, Parvovirus, Coronavirus), Bodetella and Rabies.
  8. All service dogs must be spayed or neutered.
  9. If the request is for a service miniature horse, the person making the request must provide annual proof of the following vaccinations: Equine Infectious Anemia (Coggins Test), Rabies, Tetanus, Encephelomyelitis, Rhinoeumonitis, Influenza, and Strangles.
  10. The owner or handler of a service animal is responsible for the supervision and care of the animal, including any feeding, exercising, and clean up.

EXTRA CHARGES

The owner or handler of a service animal cannot be required to pay an admission fee or a charge for the animal to attend events for which a fee is charged.

REMOVAL OF SERVICE ANIMALS FROM SCHOOL PROPERTY

A school administrator can require an individual with a disability who brings a service animal to a school property and/or facility and/or school function to remove the service animal if any of the following circumstances occurs:

  1. The animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it;
  2. The animal is not housebroken;
  3. The presence of a service animal would require a fundamental alteration to the service, program, or activity of the school or its function; and/or
  4. The presence of the animal poses a “direct threat” to the health or safety of others. Pursuant to 28 CFR 35.104, a direct threat is defined as “a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practice or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services.” If the service animal is removed, the individual with a disability shall be provided with the opportunity to participate in the service, program or activity without the service animal.

SERVICE ANIMAL REQUESTS BY A MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC

  1. All requests for a member of the public to bring a service animal to a school property and/or facility and/or school function must be directed to the building principal, designee, or school site administrator as appropriate. The building principal, designee or school site administrator shall, in accordance with this policy, confirm that the animal is a service animal and shall, upon the request of the individual, provide the individual with a copy of this policy.
  2. When practically possible, the member of the public requesting to bring a service animal to a school property and/or facility and/or school function is encouraged to make the request in writing 10 business days prior to the date the member of the public plans to bring the service animal; however, the individual cannot be required to provide this advance written notice in order to bring a service animal to a school property and/or facility and/or school function. The written notice may be provided to the building principal, designee or site facility administrator.

SERVICE ANIMAL REQUESTS ON BEHALF OF A STUDENT

  1. All requests for a student to bring a service animal to a school property and/or facility and/or school function must be made in writing, 10 business days prior to the date the student plans to bring the service animal, to the building principal, designee or site facility administrator.
  2. The building principal, designee or site facility administrator shall, in accordance with this policy, confirm that the animal is a service animal and shall provide the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s) with a copy of this policy and require the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s) to acknowledge in writing that the parent(s)/guardian(s) has received a copy of the policy, the parent(s)/guardian(s) understands the contents of the policy, and the parent(s)/guardian(s) agrees to comply with the policy. As part of the approval process, the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s) must provide proof that the service animal has received all required vaccinations.
  3. The building principal, designee or site facility administrator shall review and approve or deny a request to bring a service animal to school property and/or facility and/or school function on a case-by-case basis.
  4. The building principal, designee or site facility administrator shall give such permission to bring a service animal to school property and/or facility and/or school functon only after he/she has provided written notification to all parents/guardians of students in the affects class(es) and staff in the affected class(es), asking them to verify whether their child or if they have any known allergies, asthma, or other health condition(s) that may be aggravated by the service animal’s presence.
  5. When an individual has provided notification that his/her child or the staff member has an allergy, asthma or other health condition(s) that may be aggravated by the service animal, the building principal, designee or site facility administrator shall take appropriate measures to protect the student or staff member from exposure to the service animal. However, allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to individuals using service animals.
  6. When an individual whose health is aggravated by the service animal’s presence and an individual who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, for example, in a school classroom or at a school cafeteria, both individuals should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.

SERVICE ANIMAL REQUESTS ON BEHALF OF A STAFF MEMBER

  1. All requests for a staff member to bring a service animal to a school property and/or facility and/or school function must be made in writing, 10 business days prior to the date the staff member plans to bring the service animal, to the building principal, designee or site facility administrator.
  2. The building principal, designee or site facility administrator shall, in accordance with this policy, confirm that the animal is a service animal and shall provide the staff member with a copy of this policy and require the staff member to acknowledge in writing that he/she has received a copy of the policy, he/she understands the contents of the policy, and he/she agrees to comply with the policy. As part of the approval process, the staff member must provide proof that the service animal has received all required vaccinations.
  3. The building principal, designee or site facility administrator shall review and approve or deny a request to bring a service animal by a staff member to school property and/or facility and/or school function on a case-by-case basis. This approval process shall include a meeting comprised of the building principal, designee or site facility administrator; the staff member, and, if requested, by the staff member, an individual representing the interests of the staff member. The purpose of the meeting will be to address any questions or concerns regarding the approval process that either the District and/or staff member may have.
  4. The building principal, designee or site facility administrator shall give such permission to bring a service animal to school property and/or facility and/or school function only after he/she has provided written notification all parents/guardians of students in the affected class(es) and staff in the affected class(es), asking them to verify whether their child or if staff have any known allergies, asthma or other health condition(s) that may be aggravated by the service animal’s presence.
  5. When an individual has provided notification that his/her child or staff member has an allergy, asthma or health condition(s) that may be aggravated by the service animal, the building principal, designee or site facility administrator shall take appropriate measures to protect the student or staff member from exposure to the service animal. However, allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to individuals using service animals.
  6. When an individual whose health is aggravated by the service animal’s presence and an individual who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility (for example, in a school classroom or at a school cafeteria) both individuals should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.
    Individuals should be aware that under Arkansas law the misrepresentation of an animal as a service animal or a service animal in training to a person or entity operating a public accommodation may subject the individual to a civil penalty.

DENIAL OF ACCESS AND GRIEVANCE

If a school official denies a request for access of a service animal or service animal in training, the disabled individual or parent or guardian can file a written grievance with the District’s §504 Coordinator.

 

 

 

Legal References:  

  • ACA §20-14-304
  • ACA §20-14-308
  • A.C.A. § 20-14-314
  • UNITED STATES CODE, TITLE 20
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, (IDEA), 
  • as amended, 2004, §§1400-1482
  • 34 C.F.R. Part 300
  • UNITED STATES CODE, TITLE 29
  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973, §504
  • 34 C.F.R. Part 104, Subpart D
  • UNITED STATES CODED, TITLE 42, Chapter 126
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended, 2010
  • 28 C.F.R. Parts 35 & 36

Date Adopted: 7/07/11

Revised: 9/12/16

Last Revised:  6/26/19