What K-12 schools should do
Rickert offers these suggestions:
1. Create a plan
Consider a procedure based on the ADA National Network’s Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals guide. At a minimum, consider using the ADA definition of service animals: “any dog that is 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.” Understand the difference between service animals and animals that give emotional support or comfort, which are not covered by the ADA.
2. Discuss concerns ahead of time.
Meet with the student, family and dog’s trainer to discuss overall concerns and develop a plan before bringing the service dog to school. The plan should address how to educate school staff and other students about the service dog, and how to accommodate the needs of others. Neither fear of dogs nor allergies warrant removing a service dog, so you should make efforts to accommodate students dealing with those issues.
3. Try to prevent the service animal from being disruptive.
To ensure the safety of other students and school personnel, the service dog should have a harness, leash or tether. If that’s impractical, the student or trainer should be able to control the dog by voice commands or other signals.
A service dog also should not bark, jump up on students or otherwise disrupt class.