It is the policy of the Linn-Mar Community School District to foster an equal education environment for all students, employees, and community members within the district. The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance to the district on the proper use of assistance animals while on district property. The district will allow the use of qualified service animals to accompany individuals with disabilities in all areas of district buildings where the public is normally allowed to go. This can include classrooms, cafeterias, and school buses. Individuals with disabilities are people who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Service animals are dogs and in some instances miniature horses trained to do work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities.
Service animals must be current on all required vaccinations. Service animals also must be under control while on district grounds. The animal may be under control by either the individual with the disability or a handler of the service animal. Under control means harnessed, leashed, or tethered unless these devices interfere with the animal’s work, in which case under voice or other directive control.
MINIATURE HORSES AS SERVICE ANIMALS:
Miniature horses will be allowed as service animals within the district whenever it is reasonable to allow them. Factors to consider when determining reasonableness include whether the miniature horse is housebroken; whether the miniature horse is under the owner’s control; whether the facility can accommodate the miniature horse’s type, size, and weight; and whether the miniature horse’s presence will not compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation of the facility.
ESTABLISHING THE NEED FOR A SERVICE ANIMAL:
When no prior notice is given to the district regarding the use of a service animal, the superintendent [or designee] and/or school administrators are permitted to ask the following question: Do you need/require this animal because of a disability? If the animal’s trained tasks are not readily apparent, the superintendent [or designee] and/or school administrators may ask: What work or tasks has the animal been trained to perform?
SERVICE ANIMALS IN-TRAINING:
Assuming the handler and animal are otherwise allowed, individuals who train service animals will also be allowed access with their service animal in-training to public areas of district buildings and property. The service animal in-training is expected to abide by the same requirements as fully trained service animals.
EXCLUSION OF SERVICE ANIMALS:
In certain limited circumstances, it may be reasonable to exclude the use of a service animal from district property. The superintendent [or designee] is permitted to exclude service animals from district buildings and property in the following circumstances: The presence of the animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others; the owner or handler is unable to control the animal; the animal is not housebroken; the presence of the animal significantly disrupts or interferes with the educational process; or the presence of the animal would require a fundamental alteration to the program. If a service animal is properly excluded from district property, the district will provide the student served by the animal the opportunity to participate in the program, service, or activity without having the service animal on district property.
EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS AND SERVICE ANIMALS:
Emotional support animals are medically prescribed to provide therapeutic benefits through dedicated companionship. Emotional support animals’ sole function is to provide emotional support or comfort. Therapy animals are involved in an animal-assisted therapy program involving animals as a form of treatment.
Emotional support animals and therapy animals do not meet the definition of service animals. However, the district recognizes their value in the community. The superintendent [or designee] will evaluate the use of emotional support animals and therapy animals on a case-by-case basis for students.
District employees may use therapy animals in the course of their regular duties only after receiving permission from the superintendent [or designee]. For information on the use of therapy animals by district employees, refer to Policy 604.2-Guidelines for Use of Professional Therapy Dogs.
STUDENT USE OF EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS AND THERAPY ANIMALS:
As provided by The Americans with Disability Act, factors the superintendent [or designee] will consider in evaluating the use of emotional support animals and therapy animals are:
- Whether the animal is housebroken
- Whether the animal is under the owner’s control
- Whether the facility can accommodate the animal’s type, size, and weight
- Whether the animal’s presence will not compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation of the facility
The superintendent [or designee] will also take under consideration whether the animal has a current vaccination certificate and whether the animal has been recommended through an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan, as necessary for the student to receive free access to public education.
If you have questions about any information provided in this policy, please contact:
Melissa Frick, Executive Director of Student Services
2999 N 10th Street, Marion, IA 52302
319-447-3663 / melissa.frick@Linnmar.k12.ia.us
Related Policy: 604.2; 604.2-E1-E2
Legal Reference (Code of Iowa): §216C; 29 USC §794; 42 USC §12132; 28 CFR 35
IASB Reference: 606.03