The School Board recognizes that there are many occasions when animals are present on District property and many reasons for those animals’ presence. Animals are commonly utilized by teachers during classroom presentations and are often housed in classrooms and other locations on campus. Additionally, employees, students, parents, vendors, and other members of the public may be accompanied at school by a service animal in accordance with Federal and State law and this policy.
This policy shall apply to all animals on District property, including service animals.
A. "Animal" shall be held to include any non-human creature.
B. "Service animal," pursuant to 28 C.F.R. §35.104, "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. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. 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."
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has also defined a miniature horse as an animal that can serve as a service animal, so long as the miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability. To better determine whether the Board must allow for the use or a miniature horse or make modifications to buildings, the Board should refer to Section 35.136 (c) through (h) of the ADA.
F.S. 413.08 also defines "service animal" as "an animal that is trained to perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The tasks may include, but are not limited to, guiding a person who is visually impaired or blind, alerting a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, pulling a wheelchair, assisting with mobility or balance, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, retrieving objects, or performing other special tasks. A service animal is not a pet."
Per the definitions cited above, a service animal does not include: (1) other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, or trained or untrained; and (2) animals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, therapeutic benefits or to promote general emotional well-being.
Vaccination, Licensing and/or Veterinary Requirements
All animals, including service animals, housed on District property or brought on District property on a regular basis must meet every veterinary requirement set forth in State law and county regulation/ordinance, including but not limited to rabies vaccination or other inoculations required to be properly licensed. For example, all canines and cats must, at a minimum, be administered a rabies vaccine, on an annual basis, in accordance with F.S. 828.30.
For service animals, additional documentation may be requested; however, the District may not require additional documentation that is not required per State statute.
Animals in Schools and Elsewhere on District Property
Animals permitted in schools and elsewhere on District property shall be limited to those necessary to support specific curriculum-related projects and activities or those that serve as service animals as required by Federal and State law.
Taking into consideration that some animals can cause or exacerbate allergic reactions, spread bacterial infections, or cause damage and create a hazard if they escape from confinement, the Principal may permit animals to be present in classrooms to support curriculum-related projects and activities only under the following conditions:
A. the staff member seeking approval to have an animal in his/her classroom shall:
1. provide a current satisfactory health certificate or report of examination from a veterinarian for the animal;
2. take precautions deemed necessary to protect the health and safety of students and other staff;
3. ensure that the animal is treated humanely, keeping it in a healthy condition and in appropriate housing (e.g., a cage or tank) that is properly cleaned and maintained;
4. keep the surrounding areas in a clean and sanitary condition at all times; and
B. other staff members and parents of students in areas potentially affected by animals have been notified in writing and adjustments have been made to accommodate verified health-related or other concerns.
The presence of an animal shall be disallowed the animal’s behavior poses a threat to the health or safety of others as determined by school administration. Allergies or fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to a person who uses a service animal. Any adjustments needed to accommodate other students or staff who have animal allergies must be determined on an individual basis.
Service Animals for Students
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires public schools to make reasonable accommodations to programs and services in order to allow access for persons with disabilities. The use of service animals by a student with a disability at a public school is recognized as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. The work or task performed by a service animal must be directly related to the student’s disability. A student with a disability may be accompanied by a service animal regardless of whether the service animal is written into a 504 Plan or IEP, subject to any conditions or limitations of this policy and related procedures or applicable law. Parents/guardians or students shall submit any requests, in writing, for the use of a service animal to the Principal of the student’s school.
A service animal obtained as a result of a unilateral decision made by a parent or age-of-majority student is the personal property of the student and/or parents. The Board does not assume responsibility for training, daily care, or healthcare of service animals. The Board does not assume responsibility for personal injury or property damage arising out of or relating to the presence or use of service animals on Board property or at District-sponsored events.
A service animal utilized by a student that meets the definition set forth in the ADA and this policy shall be under the control of its handler. A service animal shall 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), or under the control of a handler other than the student. The District shall not be responsible for care and handling of the service animal other than tethering/untethering the student from the service animal or assisting the student in providing voice commands to the service animal.
District personnel may only make two inquiries regarding the use of a service animal on school property or at school functions: if the animal is required because of an individual’s disability; and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. District personnel may not make these inquiries about a service animal when it is readily apparent that an animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability (e.g., 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).
The District shall permit individual with disabilities to use service animals in district buildings, including schools; on district property; and in vehicles that are owned, leased, and controlled by the School Board upon request and submission of required documentation, in accordance with this policy and applicable State and Federal laws and regulations. All decisions regarding the accommodations of a student or employee with a disability shall be made on an individualized basis.
Required Documentation for Service Animals for Students
The following documentation is required for service animals at school or other Board property:
A. A completed Implementation Plan for Service Animals including the Checklist for Principals.
B. Current satisfactory health certificate or report of examination from a veterinarian for the service animal as required by F.S. 828.30.
C. Verification that the service animal handler, if the handler is not the student, has submitted to a sex offender registry and criminal background check.
The Principal will be responsible for determining whether the required documentation has been provided for the student’s service animal (items A - C above). When the required documentation has been provided, the Principal will determine if the service animal will be permitted to accompany the student with a disability anywhere on the school campus where students are permitted to be, as an equal access provision to the student. Service animal handlers must comply with all standards of conduct that apply to school employees and volunteers.
The IEP Team or 504 Team, as applicable, will serve as a resource to the Principal in providing information regarding the nature of the student’s disability, how the student’s disability impacts the student’s functioning at school, and how the task or service provided by the service animal is related to the impact of the student’s disability. The decision to allow a service animal on a school campus, as a provision related to equal access, is solely the responsibility of the school administrator, who must confirm that all requirements are met (i.e., documentation of vaccinations, animal control issues, etc.)
Once permission for a service animal at school is granted by the school administrator, the IEP or Section 504 Accommodations Plan documentation will address information about the service animal as it is relevant to a particular student. The IEP Team/504 Team determinations and documentation must align with the provisions of this School Board policy, including that the District does not assume responsibility for a service animal which is obtained by the student’s family independent of the District (i.e., the District is not responsible for procuring the service animal nor in caring for the service animal). The IEP documentation may include a statement in the present level narrative describing the use of a service animal at school for the student’s access to the educational environment; the support to school personnel section may be used to note what is needed in this area related to the use of the service animal at school and during school activities (such as training on disability rights or collaboration with family or service animal handler); and/or the additional comments section of the IEP may be used to enter relevant information regarding the student’s use of the service animal while at school and during school activities. As an example, for a student who brings his/her own wheelchair to school for his/her use, the IEP may document needs related to the student’s use of the wheelchair, even though the District did not provide that wheelchair nor is the District responsible for the maintenance of the wheelchair.
The IEP Team is responsible for documenting circumstances when the use of a service animal at school or during school activities may prevent the District from providing a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to the student. The IEP Team will collaborate with the parents in resolving this situation. If the matter remains unresolved and in dispute, then the parent and/or the District may access one of the dispute resolution processes available under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, including requesting a due process hearing.
Implementation Plan for a Student’s Use of a Service Animal at School
Upon approval from the Principal for a service animal to accompany a student to school, school personnel and the student’s parent and the service animal handler, as applicable, will collaborate to:
a. Familiarize the service animal and/handler with the campus prior to the actual start date.
b. Orient the service animal to school faculty and students, particularly those in the student’s classroom.
c. Institute a school wide educational program to educate others on how to behave appropriately around the service animal
d. Establish a rest, water, or feeding time and place for the service animal.
e. Establish a place for the service animal to urinate/defecate and a location for the handler to properly dispose of the service animal’s waste.
f. Establish and practice a fire drill and an emergency evacuation plan to include the service animal.
g. Provide orientation to the student’s teachers regarding the service animal including any special instructions required to assist the student with the service animal. Such orientation may include training regarding tethering the student and basic verbal commands for the animal.
When a handler, other than the student, is required for the service animal, the implementation plan must include a review of behavioral guidelines for the handler. Should the handler not adhere to the guidelines below, the Principal must be informed immediately:
a. The handler is not to interfere with the educational process in the classroom.
b. The handler must not disclose any individual student’s personal and confidential information to other individuals.
c. The handler is not permitted to supervise a classroom or discipline students.
d. The handler is not allowed to feed and/or give a student medication.
e. The handler is not permitted to audio or video record activities in the classroom or take still photographs of students and/or school personnel.
f. The handler must pass the required background screenings and must wear an ID badge at all times.
Eligibility of a Student’s Service Animal for Transportation
In some cases, a student with a disability may be eligible for School District transportation, and thus may request that his/her service animal accompany him/her on the school bus. In some cased, as identified on the student’s IEP or Section 504 Plan, there may be a need for a student with a disability to access Specialized transportation, and thus may request that his/her service animal accompany him/her on the school bus utilized for Specialized transportation.There may also be a request for the service animal’s handler, if the handler is someone other than the student, to also access School District transportation.
Before a service animal is permitted to ride on a school bus owned or leased by the District, the student and his/her parents, or eligible student, and the handler, if she/he is someone other than the student, shall comply with the following:
A. The Principal shall schedule a meeting so that the student and his/her parents, or eligible student, and the handler, if she/he is someone other than the student, can meet with the driver and bus assistant, if any, and the Principal. The student and his/her parents, or eligible student, and the handler, if she/he is someone other than the student, is responsible for providing information to the driver and bus assistant, if any, regarding critical commands needed for daily interaction and emergency/evacuation.
B. The Principal shall make arrangements for the student and his/her parents, or eligible student, and the handler, if she/he is someone other than the student, to provide an orientation for students who will be riding the bus with the service animal regarding the animal’s functions and how students should interact with the animal.
C. The service animal must participate in bus evacuation drills with the student.
The service animal shall board the bus by the steps with the student, not a lift, unless the student uses the lift to enter and exit the bus.
While the bus is in motion, the service animal shall remain positioned on the floor, at the student’s feet. A representative of the Transportation Office will meet with the student and his/her parents, or eligible student, to determine whether the service animal should be secured on the bus with a tether or harness.
Situations that would cause cessation of transportation privileges for the service animal include:
A. the student, or handler, is unable to control the service animal’s behavior, which poses a threat to the health or safety of others; or
B. the service animal urinates or defecates on the bus.
The student and his/her parents shall be informed of behaviors that could result in cessation of transportation privileges for the service animal, in writing, prior to the first day of transportation.
If it is necessary to suspend transportation privileges for the service animal for any of the above reasons, the decision may be appealed to the Transportation Supervisor.
Although transportation may be suspended for the service animal, it remains the District’s responsibility to transport the student. Furthermore, unless the behavior that resulted in the service animal’s removal from the bus is also documented during the school day, the service animal may still accompany the student in school.
Service Animals for Employees
In accordance with Policies 1122.01/Policy 3122.01/Policy 4122.01 Prohibition of Disability Discrimination in Employment, the District shall provide a reasonable accommodation for a qualified individual with a disability. An employee with a disability may request authorization to use a service animal while on duty as such an accommodation. As required of all animals under this policy, an employee with a disability who will have a service animal as an accommodation will be required to provide a current satisfactory health certificate or report of examination from a veterinarian for the animal, on an annual basis, to verify that the requirements of F.S. 828.30 have been met.
Service Animals for Parents, Vendors, Visitors, and Others
Individuals with disabilities who are accompanied by their service animals are permitted access to all areas of the District's facilities where members of the public, as participants in services, programs or activities, as vendors, or as invitees, are permitted to go. Individuals who will access any area of the District’s facilities with their service animals should notify the Principal or Department Director that their service animal will accompany them during their visit.
As required of all animals under this policy, an individual with a disability who has a service animal will be required to provide a current satisfactory health certificate or report of examination from a veterinarian, on an annual basis, to verify that the requirements of F.S. 828.30 have been met, for the animal if they will visit an area of the District’s facilities on a regular basis.
An individual with a disability who attends a school event will be permitted to be accompanied by his/her service animal in accordance with Policy 9160 Public Attendance at School Events. If the individual with a disability will attend a regularly scheduled series of events with his/her service animal, the individual with disabilities will be required to provide a current satisfactory health certificate or report of examination from a veterinarian for the animal, which is required for all animals by this policy.
Removing and/or Excluding a Service Animal
A school administrator or Department Director may ask an individual with a disability or his/her parents to remove a service animal from a school property or a school function if any of the following occurs:
1. The service animal’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health and safety of another student, school personnel, or another person. Allergies or fear of animals are not valid reasons for denying access or refusal of services.
2. The animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it.
3. The service animal is not on a harness, leash, or other tether, or otherwise under the voice control of the handler/student (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means).
4. The animal is not housebroken.
5. The animal’s presence would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity.
If any of the above circumstances are evident, the Principal or Department Director will be responsible for documenting such and for determining if and when the service animal is to be removed and/or excluded from school property, or a school function.
The Principal or Department Director should notify the Superintendent prior to removing and/or excluding a service animal, and, immediately subsequent to such notification, document the reasons for requesting the removal and/or exclusion.
Should a Principal or Department Director exclude a service animal from school property, the individual with a disability must be provided the opportunity to participate in the service, program or activity without having the service animal on the premises.
The Principal’s or Department Director’s decision to remove and/or exclude a service animal from school property may be appealed in accordance with the complaint procedure set forth in Policy 2260.02 – Nondiscrimination Grievance Procedure.
The procedures set forth in Policy 2260.02 – Nondiscrimination Grievance Procedure are not intended to interfere with the rights of individuals to pursue a complaint of legally prohibited discrimination with the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, the Florida Civil Rights Commission, or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
28 C.F.R. 35.104, 35.136
F.S. 381.0056, 413.08, 828.30, 1001.41, 1006.22, 1012.32, 1012.321
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504)
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Revised - December 5, 2017