School Board Policy 650 -
Service Animals on School Property

 

Adopted: december 8, 2014  

I. Purpose 

The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines and procedures for the use of service animals in the White Bear Lake Area school district, including school buildings, vehicles, and other property.

II. General Statement of Policy 

  1. Pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and other federal and state laws, service animals, under appropriate circumstances, must be allowed to accompany students and employees in public school buildings, vehicles and other property. Accordingly, the school district will comply with all applicable laws governing service animals.

  2. It is recognized that service animals are not pets or comfort animals but perform valuable functions and are trained to do important tasks for individuals with disabilities.

    1. Use of a service animal by a student with a disability will be allowed in school when it has been determined that the student’s disability requires such use for the student to have equal access to and benefit from the services, programs, or activities offered by the school.

    2. Use of a service animal by an employee with a disability will be allowed when such use is necessary to enable the employee to perform essential functions of his/her position, or to enable the employee to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment as are being enjoyed by other similarly situated employees without disabilities.

III. Definitions 

  1. Comfort animal or pet – Animal whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or to promote emotional well-being. Such animals shall not be considered to be service animals.

  2. Handler– Person with a disability who is accompanied by a service animal.

  3. Service animal – Dog or miniature horse that is trained, or is in the process of being trained, to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. The work or tasks performed must be directly related to the handler’s disability.

    1. Such tasks include, but are not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision; alerting individuals with impaired hearing; providing minimal protection or rescue work; pulling a wheelchair; fetching dropped items; assisting a person during a seizure; alerting a person to the presence of allergens; providing physical support and assistance with balance or stability; or helping persons with psychiatric or neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.

    2. Service animals do not include wild animals (including non-human primates born in captivity), farm animals (including any breed of goat or pig), reptiles, rabbits, ferrets, amphibians, rodents, comfort animals, or pets.

  4. Trainer – Person who is affiliated with a reputable training program for service animals and is training a service animal to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.

IV. Procedures 

  1. Notification required: There is no automatic right for a student or staff member to be accompanied by a service animal in the school or school district setting. A service animal may not be on school district property without approval from district administration. No fewer than three weeks prior (whenever possible) to the placement of a service animal, the parent/guardian, adult student or staff member will provide district administration a letter from their health care provider regarding the need for a service animal. This letter shall identify and describe the need for the service animal as it relates to the student or staff member’s disability and describe the manner in which the service animal meets the individual’s need(s).

  2. Initial meeting: After receiving notification of the need for a service animal, parties, including, where possible, the student, parent/guardian and/or staff member, district administration (such as building principal), and other appropriate parties (such as members of an IEP team) shall meet. During this meeting the request shall be evaluated and a decision regarding the request for the student or staff member to have the use of the service animal during the school day, at school activities or at the workplace will be made. This evaluation may include a request to formally assess the student’s or employee’s needs that might explore alternate methods of accommodation. The school district may require a meeting with and/or request additional documentation from the student’s health care provider. District administration may also gather information about the service animal, including details about the tasks the service animal has been trained to perform.

  3. Plan: Upon approval of the service animal, a plan will be developed by the parent/guardian, adult student or staff member and district administration, including the student’s IEP team, where appropriate. At a minimum, the plan shall include: identification of handler; alternate person at school who can give commands to the service animal should the need arise; frequency which the service animal will be on school property; specific needs and/or issues related to a service animal in a school setting; annual communication plan to inform students, parents/guardians, and community members of the service animal, including an opportunity to identify issues and concerns; and procedures to introduce the service animal into the school environment. This plan and approval of the service animal is subject to periodic review, revision, or revocation by district administration.

  4. Removal: The district may require a handler or trainer to remove a service animal from district property, a district vehicle, or a school-sponsored event or activity if: The service animal is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it; the service animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others that cannot be eliminated by reasonable modifications; the animal is not housebroken; or the animal’s presence or behavior fundamentally interferes with the functions of or requires fundamental alteration to district programs.

    1. When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed:

      1. The handler or trainer may choose to remain on district property, in the district vehicle, or at the school-sponsored event or activity, unless the handler or trainer has violated a law or school regulation that would warrant the removal of the handler or trainer.

      2. The person with the disability shall be offered an opportunity to obtain goods and services without the animal’s presence.

    2. If a district administrator recommends excluding, limiting, or removing a service animal, the administrator shall convene a meeting to discuss the reason(s) that require the exclusion, limitation, or removal and any alternate methods or actions may resolve the problem(s).

    3. A student or staff member with a service animal who is aggrieved by a decision to remove, limit, or exclude a service animal may appeal that decision to the superintendent of the school district. Such an appeal must provide written, detailed information regarding the basis of the appeal.

V. Service Animal Requirements 

  1. Appropriately trained: Prior to placement in the school building, the school district shall be provided a letter or identification card to demonstrate that the service animal has been trained to perform work or tasks by a reputable agency.

  2. Service animal standards of behavior: The service animal must not disrupt or interfere with the learning or work environment. Requirements for the service animal include the following. The animal:

    1. Must be clean, well-groomed, and not odorous; animal must be under the control of its handler;

    2. Does not urinate or defecate in inappropriate locations;

    3. And/or the animal’s conduct does not disrupt the normal course of school business;

    4. Works without unnecessary vocalization;

    5. Shows no aggression;

    6. Does not solicit or steal food or other items;

    7. Has been specifically trained to perform its duties in public and is accustomed to being in public;

    8. Must be able to lie quietly beside the handler without blocking walkways or exits; and

    9. Must stay within close proximity of the handler at all times unless the nature of a specific task requires it to be working at a greater distance.

VI. Handler Responsibilities

  1. Care and supervision: A handler or trainer who is accompanied by a service animal is solely responsible for the care and supervision of the service animal, including, but not limited to, feeding, watering, exercising, cleaning, and toileting. Neither the district nor its staff will assume any such responsibilities.

    1. The handler or trainer of the service animal shall be liable for any damage to persons, premises, property, or facilities caused by the service animal, including, but not limited to, clean up and stain removal.

  2. Control of service animal: Every handler or trainer who is accompanied by a service animal is responsible for ensuring that the service animal can be properly harnessed, leashed, or otherwise properly restrained so the handler or trainer can maintain control of the service animal purposefully moving machinery. Determination of whether to limit or exclude access of a service animal to specific programs or areas of the school facility will be made on a case-by-case basis.

  3. Service animals in school district vehicles: Service animals will only be allowed in school district transportation vehicles when it has been determined that the service animal is a necessary part of a transportation accommodation; the inclusion of the service animal is documented on a special transportation form; and the service animal is under the control of the handler at all times, including when entering and exiting the vehicle.

    1. Arrangements for the transportation of students with service animals shall be initiated by district administration through the school district’s Director of Transportation.

  4. Service animals at public events: Handlers and trainers may be accompanied by a service animal while on district property for events that are open to the public. The right of access does not extend to schools generally or to other activities that are not open to the general public. School administrators may inquire of the handler or trainer whether the animal is required because of a disability and the specific tasks that the animal has been trained to perform, but shall not ask questions about the individual’s disability.

VII. Expectations 

  1. Seek permission: Students, parents/guardians, and staff should not feed or pet a service animal without permission from the handler or trainer. In addition, students, parents/guardians, and staff generally should not seek to separate a service animal from its handler or trainer.

  2. Allergies and other medical issues: Students or staff members with allergies or medical issues that are impacted by animals should contact the building principal to convene a meeting. The meeting will consider the conflicting needs and accommodations of all persons involved and will work to balance the rights of all individuals. Generally, allergies that are not life threatening are not a valid reason for prohibiting the presence of a service animal.

    1. If a student or a staff member assigned to the classroom in which a service animal is permitted suffers a severe allergic reaction to the animal, the handler or trainer will be required to move the animal to a different location designated by the building principal and an alternate plan will be developed with appropriate district staff.

    2. If an individual on school transportation suffers an allergic reaction to a service animal, an alternate transportation plan will be developed with appropriate staff and parent/guardian of the student.

VIII. Liability

The staff member, student/parent/guardian, handler, or trainer is liable for any and all damage to district or personal property and any and all injuries to individuals caused by their service animal. The staff member or student/parent who uses a service animal on school district property will hold the district harmless and indemnify the district from any such damages. The staff member or family who owns the service animal and who are the certified handlers will provide the district evidence of liability insurance for the service animal. The amount of coverage required shall be determined by the school district.

When school staff members provide services to the student, and, as part of this service, give commands to the student’s service animal, these staff members are acting as district employees and will be covered for liability through the school district.

References:
Minn. Stat. § 363A.19
Minn. Stat. § 256C.02 28 C.F.R. § 36.104