Service Dog Continues to be Denied Entrance
Jacob Seacker has autism and Asperger Syndrome. These conditions make some things difficult for young Jacob but Jacob also has Thor, a certified service dog and he helps Jacob alot! Thor can go on airplanes, to restaurants, anywhere that Jacob goes… except to school!
That’s right, the Bakersfield City School District has banned Thor from going to school with Jacob.
His parents said before he got Thor, Jacob was having trouble concentrating in school.
But with Thor at his side, who is trained in brain-wave detection, the Saeckers said Jacob has improved tremendously and was even recognized as the most improved student.
â€œHe helps me focus … we keep each other calm,â€ said Jacob.
But a little over a month ago, the BCSD informed Jacobâ€™s parents Thor was no longer welcome in class.
“The district still doesn’t recognize that Thor and Jacob are a unit,â€ said Kristie Saecker, Jacobâ€™s mother. â€œThor is banned but Jacob is allowed … but they are a unit by law.â€
“The school district is concerned about the safety of all of our students, so right now we are in negotiations with the family to try and come to an agreement,” said BCSD spokesman Steve Gabbitas. (KGET.com)
KGET NBC 17 Bakersfield – (KGET)
May. 17, 2007. 03:36 PM EST
The Seacker’s have filed a claim with the Federal Office for Civil Rights. Under Federal law service dogs are allowed in any public place, including schools.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), “businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. This federal law applies to all businesses open to the public, including restaurants, hotels, taxis and shuttles, grocery and department stores, hospitals and medical offices, theaters, health clubs, parks, and zoos.”
Bob Taylor, president of the United States K9 Academy Inc., which trained Thor, said this isn’t the first time he’s seen a school reject a dog trained as a service animal. People are accustomed to the idea of service dogs for blind people, but the idea of services dog for people with autism is a lesser-known concept.
“It’s probably the fastest growing need,” Taylor said. He said trained service dogs can often help calm down autistic children or sense when they’re about to have meltdowns.
The number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders has risen dramatically in recent years.
Exactly what causes the disorder is still unclear, and there’s no known cure. (The Bakersfield Californian)
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights received the complaint on April 18 andÂ is now investigating it. The complaint alleges the district denied a free and appropriate public education to Jacob by not allowing him to bring the dog to school.Unfortunately for Jacob and Thor the office generally takes up to six months to finish such investigations.
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