A. Service Animals
An individual with a disability is permitted to be accompanied by his/her service animal on school property when required by law, subject to the conditions of this policy.
A “service animal” means a dog that has been 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. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. (See, however, Section D regarding miniature horses.) The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability.
School officials can ask the owner or handler of an animal whether the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to do unless the answers to these inquiries are readily apparent. School officials may not ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability and may not require documentary proof of certification or licensing as a service animal.
B. Requirements That Must be Satisfied Before a Service Animal Will be Allowed on School Property
Request: A person who wants to be accompanied by the person’s service animal must make a prior written request. If a person wants to be accompanied by a service animal at a school, the request should be made to the school principal. If a person wants to be accompanied by a service animal at any other location, the request should be made to the Superintendent. A request must indicate the scope of permission sought, including the time period and the location(s) at which the service animal will be present. Requests may be granted for a period of time up to one school year. Requests must be renewed each school year.
Vaccination: The service animal must be immunized against diseases common to that type of animal.
Health: The service animal must be in good health. The owner or handler of the animal must submit to the school principal or Superintendent, as appropriate based on the location for which the animal’s presence is requested, each school year documentation from a licensed veterinarian showing proof of the service animal’s current vaccinations and immunizations.
Control: A service animal must be under the control of its handler at all times. The service animal must have a harness, backpack, or vest identifying the dog as a trained service dog, a leash (blaze orange in color) for hearing dogs, a harness for guide dogs, or other tether unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, backpack, vest, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, backpack, vest, leash, or other tether would interfere with the service animal’s safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the handler’s control.
C. 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.
Use of Harnesses, Vests, 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.
A dog that is in training to become a hearing dog or a currently trained hearing dog that is undergoing continuing training must be on a blaze orange leash.
A dog that is in training to become a service dog or a currently trained service dog that is undergoing continuing training must be in a harness, backpack, or a vest identifying the dog as a trained service dog.
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.
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.
D. Miniature Horses
The school division will make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or 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, practices, or procedures can be made to allow a miniature horse into a specific facility, the school division must consider the following factors:
- The type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate these features;
- Whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse;
- Whether the miniature horse is housebroken; and
- Whether the miniature horse’s presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation.
All additional requirements outlined in this policy, which apply to service animals, shall apply to miniature horses.
E. 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.
F. Supervision and Care of Service Animals
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.
G. Damages to School Property and Injuries
The owner or handler of a service animal is solely responsible for any damage to school property or injury to personnel, students, or others caused by the animal.
H. Removal of Service Animals from School Property
A school administrator can require an individual with a disability to remove a service animal from school property under the following circumstances:
- The animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it;
- The animal is not housebroken;
- The presence of the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others; or
- The presence of an animal would require a fundamental alteration to the service, program, or activity of the school division.
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.
I. Denial of Access and Grievance
If a school official denies a request for access of a service animal or a dog in training, the disabled individual or parent or guardian can file a written grievance with the school division’s Section 504 Coordinator.
Adopted: February 18, 2014
Revised: December 16, 2014
Revised: December 4, 2018
28 C.F.R. Part 35
Code of Virginia, 1950, as amended, § 51.5-44.
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