9510 Service Animals

Individuals with a disability shall be permitted to use a service animal on school premises as and to the extent provided by law.

Definition of Service Animal

A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Other species of animals are not service animals for the purposes of this definition, though miniature horses are in certain circumstances entitled to similar treatment.

The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler's disability. Examples of work or tasks that a service dog may perform to meet this definition include:

  • Navigation: assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks,
  • Alerting:  alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds,
  • Protection: providing non-violent protection or rescue work,
  • Pulling: pulling a wheelchair,
  • Seizure: assisting an individual during a seizure,
  • Allergens:  alerting individuals to the presence of allergens,
  • Retrieving: retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone,
  • Physical support: providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and
  • Interrupting behaviors: helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.
  • Work or tasks that are excluded from meeting the definition are:
  • Guard dogs: the crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and
  • Companion dogs: the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship.

Permit Presence of Service Animals

An individual with a disability shall be permitted to be accompanied by his or her service animal in all areas where members of the public, participants in services, programs or activities, or invitees, as relevant, are allowed to go. A bona fide trainer of a service animal also has the right to be accompanied by such animal in training. The individual may not be required to pay an extra fee for the service animal to attend events for which a fee is charged.

Service animals may be excluded from school premises if:

  1. The service animal is out of control and the service animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it;
  2. The service animal is not housebroken; or
  3. The presence of the service animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. To determine whether a “direct threat” exists, an “individualized assessment” is to be made to ascertain: the nature, duration, and severity of the risk; the probability that the potential injury will actually occur; and whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures or the provision of auxiliary aids or services will mitigate the risk.

Control of the Service Animal.

The service animal must be under the control of its handler. In most cases, the dog must have a harness, leash, or other tethers. The service animal does not need to be on a leash, however, if the handler is unable because of a disability to use a leash. A leash is also not required if it would interfere with the service animal’s safe, effective performance of work or tasks. If either of the leash exceptions applies the service animal must be under the handler’s control via voice control, signals, or other effective means.

Responsibility for Care or Supervision.

The school district is not responsible for the care or supervision of the service animal. The individual with the service animal shall be liable for any damage done to the premises or facilities or to any person by such animal.


When addressing a service animal matter, staff shall not ask about the nature or extent of the person’s disability.

Staff may not ask questions about the dog’s qualifications as a service animal when it is readily apparent that the dog is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. Examples include where the dog is observed guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision, pulling a person’s wheelchair, or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with an observable mobility disability.

Where it is not readily apparent that the dog qualifies as a service animal, staff may ask if the dog’s presence is required because of a disability and what work or task the dog has been trained to perform. Staff may not require documentation, such as proof that the dog has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal.

Therapy Dogs

A therapy dog is one that is used to provide emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship to students.  Such dogs are generally not intended for the personal use of district students or employees and will only be approved at the discretion of district administration and counselors for their intended purpose.  Prior to the consideration of the use of a therapy dog by an individual student, administration and counselors shall consult the student’s parent/guardian and the student’s health care provider.

In the case of considering the routine use of a therapy dog by an individual student, the limitations stated above for service animals will also apply to therapy dogs.  In addition, the school will require that the therapy dog’s owner must provide to the district a proof of vaccinations received by the therapy dog as determined by and signed by a veterinarian, for the district’s files. These records shall be maintained in the district’s files.  The therapy dog must be spayed or neutered.  The therapy dog must show no aggression toward people or other animals and must not bark or make other distracting noises while in school.  The therapy dog may not interfere with the educational process of any student.

The district may also require that the therapy dog has been obedience tested and certified as Canine Good Citizens by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and certified for temperament as a therapy dog with a specific handler by the AKC and supply supporting documentation of such certification satisfactory to the superintendent or designee. The district shall maintain copies of current certification in its files.


Legal Reference:

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 28 CFR Part 35

ADA of 1990, 42 USC Sec. 12101 et seq.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 USC Sec. 794


Policy Adoption: 10.13.2011

Policy Revised:  05.11.2017


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