The North Franklin Township of Pennsylvania is under challenge for denying 7-year-old Bradley Dallatore’s use of his service dog, Jiffy. It is a case that pits the needs of the child against the school’s claim of the need to protect other children.
Bradley uses Jiffy as a companion and helper — particularly due to the hostility that his disability can engender in other children.
However, the school insists that children are afraid of the Labrador Retriever and some are allergic. Notably, Superintendent Thomas Turnbaugh insists that he will not allow even a guide dog for a blind student to enter the building. It is a position that could be hard to square with the
American Disabilities Act. Under Title I of the ADA, requires employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for qualified individuals with disabilities. This term is defined at 29 C.F.R. Section 1630.2(o) to include service animals, though employers are not necessarily required to provide such animals as opposed to allowing animals to be used. The regulations under Title III protected the use of “personal trained service animals … in any place of public accommodation.” A public school fails into the category of those places covered by “public accommodation.”
Here the dog is not being used to guide or retrieve items but it seems as a true companion. It could raise some interesting questions, but under the law it seems that the school is in a weaker position — particularly in a policy that bars even guide dogs for the blind.
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