Assistance Dogs in Schools
The Americans with disabilities act protects the rights of people with disabilities. The act ensures that Americans are able to use tools that assist them in their daily lives in public areas. The ADA defines an assistance dog as a tool and therefore protects the rights of people who use assistance dogs. Public facilities must allow people with assistance dogs to have appropriate access, but those facilities are not responsible for the dog.
Under the ADA, a child with a physical disability who is capable of being fully responsible for a service dog in public should be allowed full access in the child's school (note: according to the ADA, this does not include children with an emotional assistance dog. A child's ability to be responsible for the assistance dog is usually determined by a public access test performed by the assistance dog organization that trained the dog). Schools should allow reasonable accommodations for the child and his or her dog by having outdoor trash receptacles for the dog’s bathroom needs, and making classroom accommodations to allow for the space needed by the dog. The school is not required to tend to the dog, or to provide a person to help the child with the dog.
Children who do not pass the public access test may utilize an assistance dog only when in the company of a parent or guardian. When working under the supervision of a parent, the child and dog must be allowed in the school, including during afterschool activities.
The ADA establishes that fear and allergies are not valid reasons for refusing entrance to an assistance dog. Schools may request information on the dog, they cannot require it. Often, parents and students are willing to provide this information to help the school be more secure in supporting the needs of the student.
This information was compiled with the help of Canines for Disabled Kids.