Family of Child with Autism at Odds with School District

“So, basically, either I would have to quit my job and go to school full time with my son, or I would have to hire a dog handler to attend school with John and Kai. Neither are an option for me,” said Mrs. McDonald.

11.19.14 - Family of Child with Autism at Odds with School District

John McDonald has autism.  One of the symptoms of which is great anxiety in the little guy, and sometimes it becomes too much for him.  When this happens he will attempt to run home.  So, for his safety, his family adopted Kai, his service dog.  Kai keeps John from becoming too anxious, and thusly keeps him safer.

Kai seems to have mellowed John out a bit.  Ever since his family got him, John seems to be a bit calmer all around.  This is good especially for school time situations.  Kai is attached to John via safety tether, and if John decided to run, Kai would simply lay down, not allowing John to get too far.  If Kai notices that John is becoming too nervous, he knows how to calm him down.

The Sherwood School District was fine with allowing Kai and John to be together in class, but they told the McDonald family that Kai would need to have a handler while at the school.  The instructional assistants that help out in John’s special needs classes wouldn’t be allowed to fill that role.

“So, basically, either I would have to quit my job and go to school full time with my son, or I would have to hire a dog handler to attend school with John and Kai.  Neither are an option for me,” said Mrs. McDonald.

At this point, John is being kept home from school, and his mother has contacted an attorney to explore her options.

The attorney for the Sherwood School System, Rich Cohn-Lee, said that the school is well within their rights.  According to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act says a school district “is not responsible for the care or supervision of a service animal.”

They may not be totally responsible for the handling of the service animal, but things are not that cut and dry.

Cohn-Lee said, “It’s not simply a matter of all you have to do is handle the dog.  These aides have a tremendous burden to take care of the educational needs of the child.”

It would seem that the school district would be responsible for hiring someone to handle the dog according to Cohn-Lee.

“That’s a lot of money to pay someone,” he said.  He then added it would be cost prohibitive with multiple service animals in the school.

When the McDonald family was sending John to school in the Newberg School District, a special handler wasn’t needed for Kai to be with John.  The principal at the Dundee Elementary School John and Kai were attending at the beginning of the year had no problems at all.  An assembly was held to advise the other students and staff how to react to Kai being with John in school, and everything seemed to go without incident.

According to Dundee Elementary School principal Reed Langdon, “There was no hesitation from the staff.  The dog wasn’t an issue for us.”

84 thoughts on “Family of Child with Autism at Odds with School District

  1. Pam Tuffli Haselow…made me think of you, you advocation for dogs and autism all rolled into one. 🙂

  2. So if the dog was not an issue at the other school, why did they switch schools, and why not go back there?

    1. the way the law is the school district needs to educate all students if they can not do so in the school building then they will need to send a teacher to the home and do it there. and that is very expensive

      1. They don’t have to send a teacher to that home. That is just one option. That also means a parent must be present or another adult assigned by the parent who works. Whatever applies to public school, applies to the school’s alternative options. So, unless every child needs a parent present in order to access publc education, they that is rarely an option. If they can not educate the child in their regular district, they can send the child to an alternative school that can. Most argue that though, due to cost. What no one seems to understand, unless they ahve been through it personally,is that it usually requires a due process, sometimes many appeals, lawyers for each side and can run upwards of 100K or double that before its over and the child loses a year or two of education and services in the meantime. What parent of a special needs’ child has that? Most of the child’s medical needs are not covered by insurance or only in part. The school board attorney will drag it out, hence more taxpayer monies to avoid setting precedence for those kids who should be in alternative settings. After all, it’s only tax payer money, not their own personal cash, or things would be differently approached by school board attorneys. The alternative school from the start would be the least costly alternative and would be most “appropriate” for the child, providing all resources and methodologies have been attempted by the district and they ackowledge they can not handle the child’s needs in their building/district setting. Most districts would rather argue.

  3. The school is relying on the wrong statute with respect to this issue. This is not an “Americans with Disabilities Act” issue, it is an “Individuals with Disabilities Education Act” (IDEA) and a “Section 504” of the Rehabilitation Act of 1975, as amended, issue. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which oversees 504 with respect to primary and secondary education, has actually addressed this issue. Sorry school, if the use of the service animal is needed for the child to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE), unless you want to lose your Federal funding, you have to provide resources, including personnel, to assure that the child receives the supports to receive FAPE. Moreover, as both Section 504 and IDEA use the same FAPE standard, refusal to provide the appropriate resources to deliver FAPE means that the school district may potentially be responsible for provision of “compensatory education” under the IDEA.

    1. Exactly right, I have been advocating for our autistic sons federally protected disability services in our district for years, it’s an uphill battle with some districts. They need to see that the students rights come first, and if that’s a little difficult or expensive, find a way, make some effort, make it happen. I have dealt with this very same law firm (in Lincoln County), they instruct the schools to say “no” to reasonable accommodations, and make the parents fight to get what they are already legally entitled to. We are having to go to federal court over the crap this law firm has instructed our district to do to our son.

      1. So where does the school get the money from? Which programs and classes have to be cut to pay for it? Guess we can raise property taxes.

    2. As a former special education teacher, Michael is totally correct. Hopefully the lawyer will look into this issue and do what is correct for the child.

    3. We don’t know the whole story. The article did not even state that the dog was medically, therapeutically required. The parents acquired the dog as it seems: “So, for his safety, his family adopted Kai, his service dog. Kai keeps John from becoming too anxious, and thusly keeps him safer.” I recommend exploring other solutions to balance the school’s needs, the parents’ needs, the other students’ needs, etc.. I am a big dog lover. Others are not and there may be other solutions.

    4. You hit the nail on the head with the word “IF”. There are tens of thousands of autistic students in the public school system, with varying issues, and they all attend school without their dogs so apparently most public schools can accommodate their needs without dogs. Just because someone says they need to cart their dog all over the planet doesn’t mean that they are covered by the ADA. The definition of service dog is specific.

  4. I’m going to be hated for this, but this kind of thing is precisely why I pay for my child to go to a parochial school. The kind of governmental overreach that goes along with this kind of case and the time taken away from the classroom (I know he’s in special needs, but he will eventually be mainstreamed) and other students creates too much focus on one, note enough on the others. Now an employee will be expected to care for not only the child, but the dog, too? I LOVE dogs (I have 5), but it seems to me like that’s just overkill in an already overtaxed school system. The government is not your nanny, people. I’m sorry your child has special needs. It’s not your, mine or our fault, but don’t expect the average citizen to sacrifice the education of their children for the overwhelming needs of a few. I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels this way, but the haters will hate.

    1. I’m with you. It’s a terrible thing to have a child struggling but it’s YOUR respinsibility to take care of your child. How many teachers go without a raise, pay for their own supplies? Classrooms are overcrowded and in disrepair with no hope of being “fixed” in the near future. I have empathy and respect for any parent going through an issue with a child with special needs but it’s an issue they must handle. Not an issue we must all bear the brunt of for them.

      1. I am with you. I also sent my children to parochial and then private schools. Let ME decide how to spend my money!!!

    2. My publicly educated, academically gifted children actually lost out more to having their education dumbed down for the average children of average citizens rather than to having any special needs children in their schools ‘catered to’. I will presume to suppose if a special needs child were allowed to enroll in a parochial school with a service animal, the parents would also be required to send a handler at their own expense, since it is after all a private school. Do private schools allow special needs children? Or is that too much of a distraction for the other children and not allowed? I solved my ‘dumbed down education’ problem by enhancing what my children learned at home, adding to their public school education. It is also through sharing their education with special needs children and “this kind of thing” that my middle child was able to find her passion and plan her higher education. I would rather my school put forth the extra effort and expense to help educate a ‘special needs’ child who is doing his/her best to learn under the circumstances, with their parent’s support, than to put forth the effort they do in order to get many students who couldn’t care what they learn that day through graduation day. If you consider me ‘hating’, my apologies. I don’t care at all where your child goes to school….it’s the thought you think you are keeping private in your head that I dislike…”thank goodness I don’t have to deal with that kind of child….my child is special and perfect and will get a private parochial education so we don’t have to burden ourselves with that sort of thing.” Just remember, now you have nothing to blame either when Jr learns the bare minimum and doesn’t seem to ever want to leave home.

      1. Thank you so much for this wonderful post! Signed : A parent of a special needs child who is brilliant & in all gifted classes. He is being dumbed down by their perfect children. Not the other way around. How horrible there are parents who actually feel like this woman who has spoken ! I can only imagine the small limited bubble of a perfect world & the pressure her ” perfect ” children will have to endure a lifetime of. your a wonderful mother. God Bless.

      2. Well, that mom who doesn’t want them in her school had better watch what she says because this is what federal law mandates, and has nothing to do with parents of special needs kids having to fight for their rights. Public school is just that. For the public, paid for by our federal and local government and by our local taxes. And yes, my special ed kids were most definitely dumbed down for years by untrained staff. Paid for year of private tutoring and private therapies, and yes, fought the school for subpar services. My kids were smarter than any of the educators thought they were and we prove them wrong over and over again. The districts dumb down, not because of any special ed, but for the majority of their local district population’s intelligence as a whole.

    3. I’m with you 100% here Rebecca. It’s an unfortunate situation for the family, but it is THEIR situation. Not everything can be handed off to someone else and this is one of those things. If a student requires a service animal that is something a family needs to work out. That doesn’t mean there can’t be give/take between the parties, but schools are taking on more and more responsibility and they really shouldn’t be. There isn’t the time or money for it at this point.

      On another note, I’d just like to say that it really isn’t fair to try comparing two different schools like they do in this article without more information. What about class sizes? What about the number of aids? What about the differences in “special” needs within the schools/classrooms? Just because one school could deal with the needs of a service animal without incident doesn’t mean another can (or is willing to take on the liability risk blindly).

    4. I agree, as a former teacher in FL(gr 2) students are coming to the classrm l with issues I cannot handle. Now nearly 25% of the class has an IEP, or need some type of intervention be it physical or mental. When you have a class of 18-20 7-8 yr olds to educate its nearly impossible to attend to all needs. ! Anything the parents can to do help is needed BADLY! Whether it as a dog or an aide. You can always home school too.
      After 9 yrs I had to leave the profession, too stressful, I am sick emotionally, physically & mentally.

      1. I made it 6 yrs in teaching. 6 of the most stressful, overwhelming and overworked years of my life. And I always got to hear about how easy I had it because i “only worked 9 months out of the yr”. Well, you only get paid for 9 months which nobody seems to realize. You can choose to get that 9 months of pay stretched out over 12 months if you want to (just so you don’t blow it all in one place) but it’s still only 9 months worth of pay. And I haven’t added it up but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that all the nights I dragged home work after school and all the work I took home on weekends plus the weekend hours I spent working in my classroom would add up to far more than 9 months – probably closer to 12 – and none of this working on weeknights and weekends was counted as overtime – all included in the 9 month salary. I also heard “you’re only there from 8:30-3:30”. Not me. We had to be at my school at 7:45 and were not allowed to leave the building until 4:30. Special needs students in the classroom take up the majority of the time. Straight-A students tend to thrive no matter what. The C students are the ones who fall through the cracks. The ones who could really use extra time & attention. Instead it’s all focused on special needs. “Ok kids – please go to centers (while Johnny is throwing his second violent fit of the day and I’m trying to calm him down). There’s still a need for separate special education classes for many special needs kids but that’s politically incorrect to say. Parents have been brainwashed into thinking their kids should be mainstreamed (stuck in the “regular” classroom with 20-25 other students) no matter what – when that’s not what’s best for them and definitely not what’s best for the majority of the class.

      2. Wow! What school still has only 18 – 20 students in a 2nd grade classroom?!? The schools I know about have 25 – 30; some teachers thinking they’re lucky to have “only” 27 this year. And, as you say, at least 25% have an IEP. One teacher I know of has 30 students in a combined 2nd/3rd grade classroom with one Aide who floats in and out with special needs students, as well as Aides for individual students rotating through, everyone of whom need specially written-up lesson plans. And now someone thinks she should deal with a dog?!? Granted, many dogs are trained to sit and stay better than most kids 🙂 but one of the assistants is petrified of dogs and refuses to be forced into the room when one is present. The whole world is not Portland, people; please leave your dogs at home and see if you can come up with more reasonable solutions. For instance, can the boy be slowly weaned off the real thing onto a look-alike stuffed animal to that might ease his anxiety? Also: no, I do not want my taxes to increase to pay for more personalized special handling, nor do I want the state to impose a sales tax to pay for all the extra services. Do you? Some services seem to be crossing over into baby- and dog-sitting services. Hmmm; just think how much teachers could be paid if they start charging at the going rate for EACH child – and dog – in their classrooms. Maybe that’s the answer? Do the math. Charge each parent the rate for sitting for each dog or student they send to the school system. Then the school could easily afford all the extra aids necessary for raising someone else’s child. The really unfortunate result of demanding so much of our schools is that those demands drive away many caring and knowledgeable people who would otherwise be the shining stars that would smart-up their classes and send caring and knowledgeable students out into the world. Saw – with great heaviness of heart – that very thing happen to two gifted individuals in my own school. What a shame.

      3. I can only say that which I have said for years. This is federal law that every child be educated. Teachers should not be in the field of educating children if they only know how to teach to one kind. It starts with a higher level of degree necessary to teach. Period. Every educator should have a degree in special education, or get out of the units of teaching. That special education degree can help every single child, but you can not teach a child without training to do it. What other job can one go to that serves the public but then doesn’t have the ability to work or skill set to do their job with the public. Go to a private school and teach or get a job in tutoring, or go get the skills necessary to teach the public children in your district. All of them. not just the few that learn your now way of teaching.

    5. This is my exact same thought. I’m sorry about your son, and your troubles, but this is NOT a school issue. It is the hand you were dealt and your responsibility to figure out suitable solution. Perhaps your son needs to find a special needs school?

  5. There is so much wrong with this. Where to begin? The family has stepped up with a solution with the service dog, and the school admin is not doing their part. Won’t reiterate the law because it’s in previous postings, but the school is obligated to supply an aide. Rebecca Fletcher, that’s how a school makes sure that the special needs of one child doesn’t interfere with the rest of the class. I suspect that the school admin is using this issue to get the child out of the school for budgetary reasons. I understand your points, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on here. I think if you were not in the position to afford tuition, and your child was being deprived of an education, you might see things differently. No hating, just the benefit of the doubt. As it stands, I think the school district will at minimum have to provide at home instruction.

    1. Everyone has the right to a free public education. Everybody does not have the right to a dog-handler.

    2. Exactly right Liz. The child is already in a special education classroom its states so in this article. It also states that the aides that work helping out in the classroom ? Sounds like an “understaffed” special needs classroom to me. The dog also is a real service dog to answer other posters ridiculous comments about it being just a pet. He is adopted rescue service dog. These dogs come from being retired after working an individual who may have passed on or with military soldiers who have PTSD & other situations where due to physical activity they retire then young to maintain the health of the dog. They offer them for adoption to homes who are in need of a service dog & unable to afford one. The dog is trained with the family & the specific person they will be a companion too. People should really educate themselves before they make comments.

  6. I totally agree with Rebecca iris not the schools responsibility. I know this is harsh but your child is your responsibility and maybe home schooling could be a better option.

  7. Why did the parents change schools in the first place? The school system shouldn’t be made to pay for a dog handler. In the first place, this dog is way too big for a small child. He certainly couldn’t handle it.

    1. A child who is a runner needs a large dog to assist him because a little dog wouldn’t provide the weight needed to help the child resist the impulse to run away. That said I also thought why move- those towns are close. Bill Gates didn’t adjust well to a move so his mom kept driving him to school so he could be where he was successfull.

    2. The dog handles the child not the other way around this is why it is called a service dog 😉 ! the parents may have moved & now they have to use the new district. it may not have been a choice they made.

      1. Service dogs are not nannies. Most reputable agencies would never train a dog for a child that young because owning a service dog is a lot of responsibility. The people benefiting from the service dogs have to care for those dogs, they have to exert control over those dogs, and they have to constantly reinforce the training of their dogs. Its a dog not a robot.

  8. Shocking! Not the dog issue, but the people who just want to dump the kid. Saying ‘it’s your problem’ is the same as saying I don’t drive when it snows therefore my tax money should not pay for plowing the roads. Ridiculously self-centered to the extreme!

    1. Disagree Deb, my Brother in Law is extremely handicapped, he was driven 2 hours by my MIL to a school that could handle his disabilities until he was 21, which is when he was too old to still attend school so they “graduate” him. My BFF’s youngest son is severely autistic, she has had to quit her job, she and her husband have applied for grants, medical insurance coverage etc to get him approved to go to a special needs school that basically prepares the child for institutional living because, according to his doctors when he is a teenager he will have NO choice but to institutionalize him because he has irreparable damage to the middle brain so he cannot rationalize, cannot speak, cannot learn sign language, he cannot and will not be able to communicate what so ever so he gets frustrated and attacks people, pets, things out of frustration. (He had a stroke after getting stuck in the birth canal). But she doesn’t blame the school systems that he cannot attend normal school, does not expect them to cater to his service dog, what if someone is allergic, now we have to drug our kids that have dog allergies because of your son? Again, cards you were dealt, your job to make what you can like my MIL did and my BFF does everyday. You bring shame to the efforts they go through with your demands for only your child at the sacrifice of everyone elses.

      1. This child has anxiety not all the other issues your listing. He can go to school & he can learn & be productive in life therefore he deserves to be there with his dog . Anxiety issues are very well treated by service dogs the are used for our ptsd vets daily. Your stating they should suck it up is ridiculous not even close to the same scenario.

    2. Thanks Deb my thoughts exactly! I can clearly see reading all these comments what exactly has gone wrong with my country. Selfish self centered people who take no responsibility for anything at all. These special needs kids will never use your football , cheerleading, music band, or hockey ,soccer, extra curricular budgets either. But I suppose we should still be paying for that while our child sits at home & stares at the walls when they have the ability to learn as normal as any other child academically except in a different way ?

  9. So, if a school district provides the attention/instruction your child needs, while your new school district does not, then why not go back? These two districts are 9 miles apart. Clearly, the one district does not want to pay for an aide and a dog handler, while the other did not require one to.

    Free education is not free, someone has to pay for it. I may suggest you return to the district which helped your child. Of course, it would be better to just sue and force the district to pay more $$$ to help your child.

    This article is so bogus because it tries to create a ‘real’ controversy with the district, rather than truly address the issue at hand. A child who needs a dog, should have the ability to care for the dog’s needs, i.e. take it to the bathroom, or have a qualified person to do so. You cannot expect the school to provide every single accommodation to help your student, because the are in public school and the school is required to provide reasonable accommodations.

    I am a teacher who has only seen service animals for students needing them for physical disabilities, not emotional ones.

  10. Why exactly does the dog need a handler? I went to school with a blind kid, he had a dog. It was just the two of them. No assistant for the kid, no handler for the dog. the dog led the kid where he needed to go, like he was meant to do. Granted being blind and having autism are two totally different things. This kid was totally normal other than he just couldn’t see.

    1. J, because that kid was able to care for the dog himself. He was probably older and wasn’t autistic. Having a service dog isn’t all that much different than having a regular dog other than the service dog is usually better trained. The dog still needs a human to care for it, control it in situations outside of its training, and reinforce its training. Kids don’t usually get service dogs until they are old enough to take on the responsibility of owning one because if they aren’t able to care for the dog properly and continually reinforce its training it will revert back to a pet pretty quickly.

  11. question… What if another child in the class has a fear of dogs? Just wondering as I had a child in my class who would not even sit for a presentation with a police officer and his miniature chocolate lab. She was terrified to even look at it.

    1. The ADA trumps fear and allergies. People with service animals depend on their dogs to keep them safe. They’re not pets, they are tools that are vital to the handler’s well-being. Unless the fear or allergy is severe enough to be life-threatening, you just have to suck it up.

      1. This is not a service dog its an emotional support dog which isn’t covered under the ADA. Service dogs belong to people who fit the definition of “handler” which means that they are old enough and capable enough to handle their own service dogs. This kid is obviously not. It takes a lot of money and time to properly train a service dog which is why reputable trainers make sure a kid is old enough to care for the dog and reinforce the dog’s training before training the dog for a kid.

  12. Dogs are the most amazing and loving creatures on the planet. <3 Humans could learn so much from Dogs, if they would just pay attention. 😉

      1. They are not breaking any laws as the dog is not part of the IEP or 504 plan. They are only in disagreement if it should become part of the plan. You can only go to mediation to resolve this issue. IDEA only stays accommodations need to be made it does nit dictate what accommodations nor can a parent dictate such accommodations. The accommodations must be reasonable. Also accommodations can not be dictated to the district if it puts then in a place that they can be sued by another party. An example of this would be if a child allergic to dogs had a reaction because of the school allowing the animal in the building.

        504 are not IEPs and have a different criteria. First if the child’s academics are not impacted by the disability significantly a 504 can not be granted. Anxiety may in fact affect the child, but if the child can be taught after the anxiety attack and kept current a 504 does not have to be granted.

        In a case that a child is a runner, the school has protocols to follow to keep the child safe.

        And ADA and IDEA does not have a trump card. Thus comments like this child trumps a child allegory is an invalid.

        So please no the entire law.
        Remember no one child’s education is any more important than another
        And finally it is disheartening to hear the argument by some that one disability is worse than another for anyone that has lived with their own disability you know for yourself it is difficult in its own way.

      2. No, because its not a real service dog. No one is going to train a service dog for a child that young because that child can’t handle the dog. Service dogs are not robots – you don’t just program instructions in them. Their training has to be constantly reinforced by their owner (the disabled person). Their owner also has to ensure that the dog understands when its working (for most people this is when the dog is wearing a vest) and when its allowed to be a normal dog (when the vest is taken off) otherwise the dog reverts to a pet and has to get retrained. I have no problem with service dogs but I don’t want my child going to school with a huge dog that’s being controlled by a 5-6 year old (guessing at the age). Conversely, I don’t send my dog to school with my 5 year old because she’s too young to control the dog.

  13. Sorry but when does my child receive his education. All the focus on behavior problems and mainstreaming my child is left behind, I can help him but what about the kids whose parents can’t or don’t help? I am all for everyone getting the most help they need but once again it is at the expense of those of us in the middle.

  14. I help pay for the needs and education of all of your children and I don’t have any kids. How fair is that? Welcome to living in America where taxes are used for the good of the people which includes y’all’s brats getting a decent free education

  15. I find it funny how people get upset over a child that doesnt even attend school with their kids. LET IT GO. He’s a child.

  16. How about teaching this kid some coping mechanisms/redirection other than running when a panic attack strikes? Because other than that task, preventing flight, his needs are emotional support and do not qualify under ADA for a service dog.

  17. My son is on autistic spectrum too but he is TERRIFIED by dogs. What about caring for HIS needs? He is an A-student in general class, btw, so he clearly is able to learn in public school settings. This article didn’t mentioned does described child even benefits from being in school. Schools are not for animals. Schools are for people who come to learn. LEAVE YOUR ANIMAL HOME. Plus, there are students who are allergic to everything, thees days. When one child came in who had allergy to latex, the science/engineering classes had to abandon the experiments with balloons for EVERY child in school, just because of that one student. Believe me, teachers were not happy.

    1. What you don’t understand is that a service dog is not a pet. A service dog is a medical tool that is vital to the well-being of its handler. It’s not the dog who has the right to be there, but the handler DOES have the right to keep his dog at his side.

      I’m personally not fond of the idea of service dogs for young children, but I have known many older (teen-20s) people who struggle with autism that have service dogs. They help IMMENSELY.

      Allergies and fear are just excuses 99% of the time. Unless the allergy or phobia is severe enough to be life-threatening, sorry, the ADA trumps that.

      1. The reason you only know teens and adults with service dogs is that reputable trainers don’t train service dogs for children who are too young to care for them and handle them. Talk with one of the people you know who has a service dog about how much work and responsibility it is and whether a small child could successfully own one and keep it trained.

  18. The child has special needs. Why is it everyone else’s responsibility to pay for this? Hire a lawyer to force a school district to provide an aid for your kids dog? When is enough enough? They already have to hire extra hep to teach special needs kids now even more help to care for the dog? And young children don’t understand a service animal they want to play and the other children who are afraid of dogs would be distracting so meanwhile how much is that class gonna learn?
    Special needs kids belong in special classes with other special kids not dumped into a regular classroom. The needs of one should not over shadow the rights of others…..

  19. ^ so Mary Etzwiler what happens if you and your husband both work minimum wage jobs, you have a child, they end up autistic, you can “afford” keeping a dog to help your autistic child instead of buying extremely expensive medication to keep them “mellowed out”. Now comes for your child to go to school. But the school says no. So now what happens if you live in a small town and your child is the only autistic child in his age group. So we can hire a full time special aids teacher for him, and him alone, but no on who can work part time to help out a dog? I find your view very narrow minded .

    My son is 5 months old, I know I cannot, by myself, afford EVERY need of a special needs child. I work retail, I can only try to give him the world. I can’t afford private school tuitions. So I know when the time comes for him to go to school he will be going to public. I’ll be damned if he needs a service dog, that they bar my child from learning as much as he can.

    How is this childs educational needs any different than a blind child, who needs a seeing eye dog, educational needs.

    1. Blind children don’t get service dogs until they are old enough to care for them. That’s one of the conditions of owning a seeing eye dog. Its pointless to train a dog for someone who can’t reinforce the training because the dog will just revert to being a pet fairly quickly and end up having to be retrained.

  20. i know it seems like the school is being the bad guys. And saying why not just take care of this one little task? why not just add on this one little responsibility? But at the end of the day, the lawyer for the school has a valid point. The ADA does require that the school allow for the boy and the dog – but does not require them to provide the handler. If the school requires that there be a handler then unfortunately the parents are on the hook for coming up with a viable plan. Perhaps they can figure out what was done at the last school to attend to the dog’s needs successfully and see if it can be implemented at the current school.

  21. Sooner we get prenatal gene testing for all diseases, the sooner people can take informed abortion decisions.

    1. Don’t be stupid. People with autism are not any less human than you or me, and they have just as much right to live.

  22. So Mary Etzwiler are you saying outcast the children even more by saying keep him away from kids that don’t need special attention. WOW !!!! How ignorant . I’m sure things would be viewed different if this was you in this situation. The way to help kids is to make them feel as normal as possible and NOT make them feel they don’t belong. shame on you!!!!

  23. ““So, basically, either I would have to quit my job and go to school full time with my son, or I would have to hire a dog handler to attend school with John and Kai. Neither are an option for me,” said Mrs. McDonald.”
    No you can send him to private school or keep him in public school as they direct.
    Here’s why you need a college education SO YOU CAN AFFOPTD LIFE, YOUR KIDS and stop complaining about money for this seems to be the underlying chord here.
    “Neither are an option for me”, but you CHOOSE to have a child, now deal with the public school like a grown up.

    1. We don’t get where we are in life due to choice alone. I’m sure she didn’t choose her child to be born with autism. Fact is, life throws in curve balls that we never expect.

      You don’t know this woman, what she does for a living, or what her background is, so it’s pretty ignorant to say that she needs to “stop complaining about money”. I’m wondering what your background is that you can say that. Everyone will go through hard times, and for many Americans, they often include finances. By the way, a college education isn’t as valuable as it once was, not to mention the insane amount of debt that college students manage to pick up. I mean, I’m a freshman in my first semester and I’m already over $5,000 in debt. So, no, a college education isn’t necessarily a fix-all.

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