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Service Animals

I. The July 1, 2008, amendments to the Code of Virginia, § 51.5-44, which governs what is known as the service dog’s right of access, include public schools in the group of public entities that must meet the requirements of this statute. This regulation implements the legal standards set forth in the Virginia Code § 51.5-44, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; implementing regulations at 34 CFR Part 300; the Rehabilitation Action of 1973, as amended; Americans with Disabilities Act – amendments Act of 2008 implementing regulations at 28 CFR Parts 35 and 36 and the Virginians with Disabilities Act. This service animal regulation is an exception to the general prohibition on animals and pets being brought onto school grounds cited in Regulation 271-1.

II.Definitions [see the Code of Virginia, at § 51.5-44; 28 CFR §§ 35.104; 36.104]:

A. “Hearing dog” means a dog trained to alert its owner by touch to sounds of danger and sounds to which the owner should respond.

B. “Mobility impaired” student means one who is unable to move about without the aid of crutches, a wheelchair, or any other form of support or because of limited functional ability to ambulate, climb, descend, sit, rise, or perform any related function.

C. “Service animal” means any dog (or trained 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. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability.

D. “Three-unit service dog team” means a team consisting of a trained service dog, a disabled person, and a person who is an adult and who has been trained to handle the service dog.

E. “Work or tasks” performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler’s disability. Examples 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.

III. Reasonable Accommodations for Use of Service Animals. Manassas Park City Schools (MPCS) does not discriminate on the basis of disability. Persons with disabilities have the same right as the able-bodied to the use and enjoyment of our school. Reasonable accommodations will be provided for a disabled person’s use of a service animal on school property.

IV. Request for Use of a Service Animal on School Property. Any animal (including any pet or service animal) is personal property and cannot be brought onto school property without prior MPCS administrative approval. If the child arrives at school with a service animal and previous approval has not been obtained, then the parents/guardians will be immediately notified and requested to come to the school to retrieve the animal until it can be determined that the presence of the animal in school is in compliance with Division requirements. The animal will remain with the child until the parent/guardian removes the animal from school property. The animal will not be “confiscated” and taken away from the child.

In order to allow a service animal on school property, the parent/guardian must complete the Service Animal Request Form (Attachment I) and provide all required documentation. The school principal will evaluate the request and determine eligibility on a case-by-case basis. The following are the standards by which the request will be evaluated:

A. The service animal must be trained to perform tasks that mitigate the effects of a disability.

B. The service animal must have a health certificate that evidences the animal is currently in good health, free from parasites, and has received all recommended vaccinations:

1. Owners of a service animal must provide annual proof of the following vaccinations: DHLPPC (Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Paraoinfluenza, Parvovirus, and Coronavirus), Bordetella, and Rabies.

2. Owners of a miniature horse must provide annual proof of the following vaccinations:Equine Infectious Anemia (Coggins Test), Rabies, Tetanus, Encephalomyelitis, Rhinoneumonitis, Influenza, and Strangles.

3. All service animals must be spayed or neutered.

4. All service animals must be treated for and kept free of fleas and ticks.

C. The Code of Virginia, at § 51.5-44 requires the following identifiers for service animals:

1. Students with disabilities with visual impairment, including blindness: a harness.

2. Students with disabilities with deafness or hearing impairment: a blaze orange leash.

3. Students with disabilities with mobility impairment: harness, backpack, or vest identifying the service animal as a trained animal.

D. The service animal must be under the control of its handler at all times. The service animal must have a harness, leash, or other tether. This requirement is waived if the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or tether, or if the use of a harness, leash, or tether would somehow interfere with the service animal’s performance. If either of these circumstances exists, the animal must still be under the handler’s control by way of voice controls, signals, or other means. (28 C.F.R. 35.136(d)). If the primary handler is not the student, that person must have permission of the parent/guardian and meet the requirements of a criminal history background check, relevant court orders, etc., that are in accordance with the Department of Human Resources procedures for MPCS employees.

E. The service animal will be denied access to school property if at any time the animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it, or the animal is not housebroken. (28 CFR 35.136(b)). Factors that will be considered under this element are that the service animal:

  • Is clean, well-groomed, and does not have an offensive odor.
  • Does not urinate or defecate in inappropriate locations.
  • Does not solicit attention, visit, or annoy any member of the student body or school personnel.
  • Does not vocalize unnecessarily, i.e., barking, growling, or whining.
  • Shows no aggression towards people or other animals.
  • Does not solicit or steal food or other items from the student body or school personnel.

F. In addition the considerations of training, health, and safety described above, the following factors will be taken into account in determining whether to allow a trained miniature horse into a specific school setting:

  • The type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate these features.
  • Whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse.
  • Whether the miniature horse is housebroken.
  • Whether the miniature horse’s presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for the safe operation of the school. (28 CFR 35.136(i)(2)).

G. The service animal must not in any other way interfere with the educational process of any student.

H. The service animal must not pose a health or safety threat to any student, personnel, or other persons.

I. The building principal is the designated school administrator contact person.

J. The principal determines if the service animal meets the School Division standards and, if so must inform all parents regarding the presence of the service animal in the school.

K. A parent may appeal a denial of a request for the service animal.

  • If the student is receiving special education services, the parent shall use the Central Office Review procedure to have his/her appeal considered.
  • If the student is not receiving special education services, the parent should write a letter explaining why he/she believes the service animal meets the standards to be admitted onto school property and submit it to the Office of Student Services.

V. Provision Once Access is Granted:

A. MPCS is not responsible for the supervision and care of a service animal. Supervision and care includes any feeding, exercising, and clean up. MPCS is not responsible for providing a staff member to walk the service animal or to provide any other care or assistance to the animal.

Students with service animals are expected to care and supervise their animals. In the case of a young child or a student with disabilities who is unable to care for or supervise his service animal, the parent is responsible for providing care and supervision of the animal. Issues related to the care and supervision of service animals will be addressed on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the building administrator.B. If a request for allowing a service animal is approved, the school principal should consider and establish the following:

  • A rest place for the service animal (such as a crate in a quiet place).
  • Rest times for the service animal (gym, lunch, and recess are especially difficult school periods for a service animal to successfully endure).
  • A designated “pet area” somewhere on the school grounds to which the primary handler takes the animal to urinate or defecate. The handler must correctly dispose of any solid waste produced by the service animal.
  • An emergency evacuation plan.
  • A plan for fire drill participation.
  • A regular schedule to pre-treat the school facility to reduce animal-borne allergens.
  • An alternate accommodation/plan in the event the animal’s primary handler or the animal is not able to accompany the disabled child to school due to illness, injury, or death.
  • Training for any aides who may handle the animal in addition to the primary handler.
  • A school-wide educational program to educate others on how to behave appropriately around the service animal.

C. Owners of service animals are liable for any harm or injury caused by the animal to other students, staff, visitors, and/or property.

VI. Access

Individuals with disabilities are permitted to be accompanied by a service animal in all areas of the school building and to all activities, as relevant, where participants in such activities are allowed to go. This access to public facilities applies to not only students attending the school but employees and visitors as well.

An individual with a disability is not required to pay an admission fee or surcharge for the service animal to attend events for which such a fee may be charged.

(28 C.F.R 35.136(h)).

VII. Safety of Students and Staff

MPCS is dedicated to protecting the health and well-being of our community. It is understood that some students are highly allergic to certain animals, and that animals can spread disease, or behave in dangerous or unpredictable ways that can cause injury to persons with whom they come into contact. This regulation is designed to maintain a safe environment for all students.

Adopted: October 16, 2017

Service Animal Request Form