NORWICH FREE ACADEMY
USE OF SERVICE ANIMALS POLICY
The Americans with Disability Act (ADA), as amended, allows service animals assisting persons with disabilities to enter and be present on premises maintained by public entities. Norwich Free Academy (the “School”) does not discriminate on the basis of disability and persons with disabilities have the same rights to access school property or school-sponsored activities as nondisabled persons. Service animals, in compliance with the provisions of this policy, will be allowed on school property and at school-sponsored activities to which the disabled person served by the service animal is allowed access.
“Service animal” means any dog or miniature horse 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. “Service animal” includes “trained service dogs” and “trained service miniature horses” as defined below. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to: assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.
“Service animal” is intended to include “trained service dogs,” which are dogs that have been individually trained to provide services to persons with disabilities including: hearing dogs; guide dogs; assistance dogs; seizure alert dogs; mobility dogs; psychiatric service dogs; autism service dogs; and other service dogs. For the purposes of this policy, “trained service dogs” includes therapy dogs. “Service animal” and “trained service dogs” does not include family or companion dogs or pets.
Under federal regulations, “service animal” also includes “trained service miniature horses,” which are generally 24-34 inches in height (measured to the withers or shoulders) and generally weigh between 70-100 pounds. The School reserves the right to determine whether reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures can be made to allow a miniature horse on school property or at a school-sponsored activity, and reserves the right to consider the following factors in making such determination—
a) The type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate these features;
b) Whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse;
c) Whether the miniature horse is housebroken; and
d) Whether the miniature horse's presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation.
“Person with a disability” - means a person with a disability or a person who requires accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act to address a condition affecting a major life activity.
II. Requests for service animal use on school property or at school-sponsored activities
An individual with a disability, or for a student under 18 years of age, the individual’s parent(s), seeking approval for use of a service animal on school property or at a school- sponsored activity must submit a request for approval to the individual’s building principal or building administrator at least ten (10) days prior to the day on which access is requested. The building principal or building administrator may request additional information to support the request and will forward such request and supporting documentation to the Head of School or his/her designee for review. Requests will be considered on a case-by- case basis.
A request for approval for use of a service animal on school property or at a school- sponsored activity should include the following:
a) An up-to-date copy of the service animal’s health certification or similar documentation demonstrating that the service anima is in good health, free from parasites and has received all required or recommended vaccinations;
b) A description of the individual’s disability, the disability-related conditions requiring the assistance of the service animal, and the services provided or tasks or functions performed by the service animal that necessitate the service animal’s use and mitigate the individual’s disability-related conditions. The School may require documentation from a healthcare provider verifying or supporting such information;
c) Documentation demonstrating that the service animal is trained, approved and/or certified for “public access” so that the School can determine that the service animal is stable, well-behaved, unobtrusive and does not pose a health or safety threat to any student, personnel or other individuals. The School has discretion to determine the standards for satisfaction of this requirement; and
d) Documentation demonstrating that the individual to be served by the service animal has received sufficient education, training, and/or certification to function as the service animal’s primary handler and/or to otherwise demonstrate an ability to care for, control, restrain and otherwise meet the needs of the service animal without assistance from other persons. If the individual to be served by the service animal is not the primary handler, the name of the handler must be provided and must be willing to submit to appropriate inquiry as to the handler’s qualification to be present on school property or at a school-related activity. The School has discretion to determine the standards for satisfaction of this requirement.
The foregoing requirements shall apply equally to the School’s use of service animals on school property or at a school-sponsored activity pursuant to educational programs or initiatives sponsored by the School (e.g., the use of therapy dogs are part of educational programming).
Prior to approval, an access plan may be required for use of a service animal on school property or at a school-sponsored activity upon approval of a request for use. Such an access plan will not be considered a contract between the School and the requesting individual but rather a guide for the parties involved. An access plans use of a service animal will not be considered an accommodation under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or a service or accommodation under a student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP).
In considering a request for use of a service animal or developing an access plan, the School may consider the impact that the service animal will have on other students or employees in the same school buildings or property or at the same school-sponsored activity. Allergies to or fear of a service animal alone will not constitute reasons to deny the service animal access to the building. The parties affected will strive to accommodate the needs of all affected parties.
Requests for use of service animals in training to become “trained” service animals (e.g., “trained service dogs” and “trained service miniature horses”) will be allowed if the service animal is in training to be placed with the individual for whom the request is made. Instruction time will not be used for training purposes. The School’s administration reserves the right to place this restriction on students because training service animals for placement with other persons may interfere with the student’s educational experience or disrupt the educational environment. The building administrator may make limited exceptions to this restriction.
III. Service animal use on school property or at school-sponsored activities
All service animals must have up-to-date health certification at all times in order to be approved for use including at all times after approval is granted. The individual using the service animal must be the service animal’s primary handler and must demonstrate the ability to care for, control, restrain and otherwise meet the needs of the service animal without assistance from other persons. If the individual using the service animal is not the primary handler, the primary handler must be qualified to be present on school property or at school-sponsored activities. The individual, or in the case of a student under 18 years of age, the student’s parent(s), requesting approval for a service animal to be present on school property or at school-sponsored activities will be responsible for all costs, certifications and equipment associated with the service animal.
A service animal must not interfere with the educational process of any student, disrupt the work environment of employees or otherwise interfere with the school or work environment. A service animal must not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of any
student, school personnel or other persons. In consideration thereof, whenever a service animal is to be present on school property or at a school-sponsored activity, the following conditions must be met:
• The service animal must remain in the direct custody and control of its handler;
• A service animal must have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, 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 (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means).
In the circumstance where a request is made for use of a service animal and such use may cause conflict with the current use of another service animal, the Head of School and/or building administration reserve the right to make or change assignments to rooms or programs based on the needs of the building, the student body or the staff.
IV. Denial of Access or Withdrawal of Approval for Access
The use of service animals for which approval has previously been granted may be denied and/or approval withdrawn if at any time the following conditions are not complied with:
a) The service animal is out of control and the service animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it;
b) The service animal is not housebroken;
c) The service animal is not clean, well-groomed or has an offensive odor;
d) The service animal solicits attention, visits or annoys any member of the student body or school personnel;
e) The service animal vocalizes unnecessarily, i.e., barking, growling, howling or whining;
f) The service animal shows aggression toward people or other animals;
g) The service animal solicits or steals food or other items from the student body or school personnel; or
h) The service animal interferes with the educational program of any students.
V. Responsibility for Service Animals
The School is not responsible for the care or supervision of a service animal while on school property or at a school-sponsored activity, including food, feeding, elimination needs, exercise, grooming or resting place accommodations. The School does not assume responsibility for the care or conduct of a service animal that has been approved for use on school property or at a school-sponsored activity. The individual using, owning or otherwise responsible for the service animal, including the parent(s) of a student under 18 years of age, will remain liable for any injury or damage to facilities, equipment or other persons caused by the service animal.
If use of a service animal by an individual on school property or at school-sponsored activities is approved, the School will educate and/or train School personnel as well as the student population as the School’s deems necessary and appropriate.
Policy adopted: 2/25/14