Parents of autistic child sue school district for banning service dog!

Legal news for Illinois general litigation attorney’s. School districts ban an autistic boy’s service dog in the classroom.

Illinois general litigation attorney alert-A lawsuit filed against a school states, an autistic child isn’t allowed to bring service animal to class.

Columbia, IL—Parents of a 5-year-old autistic boy filed a lawsuit against the Columbia Community School District for banning their son’s service aid dog from attending classes with the boy. A Monroe County judge is expected to rule this week on whether the dog is allowed to attend class with the autistic child. The Monroe County Circuit Court Judge, Dennis Doyle, promised he would make a decision before the first day of class, which is on Monday, August 24, 2009, as reported by STLtoday.

Carter Kalbfleisch, 5, was diagnosed with autism when he was 18-months-old. Carter experiences severe outbursts, prone to eating inappropriate things like grass and rocks, and sometimes runs away from his parents and teachers. A service aid dog was recommended to Carter’s parents by two of his doctors at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center. Carter’s parents stated his behavior has greatly improved since working with Corbin, a 1-year-old Bouvier trained to work with autistic children. Carter reportedly bonded immediately with the dog and now has minimal outbursts while in public. The boy’s parents have even noticed Carter is interacting with people. The Columbia Community School District, where Carter has been attending special classes since he was two, has decided the service aid dog isn’t welcome. School officials did not provide a reason for their decision, but rumors indicated there was concerns of other students with allergies and that some students may fear dogs. Carter’s parents stated they would have argued the decision within the school, but a decision would have taken nine months.

Children and adults commonly use service dogs who have physical disabilities, like paralysis or blindness, and they are becoming more popular with people with autism. Research shows children and adults who suffer from autism relax and open up more easily when a service dog is present. People with autism are known to have severe emotional and sensory overload, which makes it harder for them to deal with everyday surroundings and social interactions. United States federal law protects the rights of the disabled to use service dogs. Illinois law permits the use and presence of a service dog in school, which is what the Kalbfeisches’ are counting on. The disability laws have plenty of gray area, which is left up to interpretation. For example, small corporations can ban the service animals if they are too disruptive, and school environments are also subject to such interpretation.

Legal News Reporter: Nicole Howley-Legal news for Illinois

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