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Press Release

U.S. Attorney’s Office Obtains Settlement with School District in Bay City to Resolve ADA Investigation Regarding Student's Use of Service Animal

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Michigan

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan has reached a settlement with the Bangor Township School District in Bay City, Michigan, to resolve allegations that the school district violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to allow a student with disabilities to use his service dog in school, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.

 

The service dog at issue alerts to the student’s seizures, and mitigates symptoms of his disabilities. The complaint alleged that the school district inappropriately delayed its decision on the parent’s request for the service dog to accompany the student, instead making the parent spend months responding to requests for unnecessary information and documentation.

 

Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in public schools. Under the ADA, public schools must generally modify policies, practices or procedures to permit the use of a service dog by a student with a disability at school and school-related activities. In addition, a public entity may make only two inquiries to determine whether a dog qualifies as a service animal: (1) whether the dog is required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task the dog has been trained to perform. A public entity shall not require documentation, such as proof that the dog has been certified, trained or licensed as a service animal. Nor shall a public entity ask or require an individual with a disability to pay a surcharge for using a service animal.

 

The school district worked cooperatively with the U.S. Attorney’s Office throughout the investigation.

 

Under the agreement, the school district will adopt an ADA-compliant service animal policy and provide training to staff and School Board Members on the school district’s obligations under Title II of the ADA, including requirements related to service dogs.

 

“Use of service animals has evolved beyond simply serving as guide dogs for individuals who are blind, McQuade said. "Service animals now perform a wide range of tasks that can help individuals with disabilities lead fuller lives. This settlement will help ensure that students who use service animals can fully access all of the educational opportunities to which they are entitled, and we commend the Bangor Township School District for recognizing the rights of this student and others who will follow.”

 

Enforcing the ADA is a top priority of the Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan. Those interested in finding out more about this settlement or the obligations of public entities schools under the ADA may call the Department of Justice’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or access the ADA website. ADA complaints within the Eastern District of Michigan can be made to the U.S. Attorney’s Office Civil Rights Hotline at (313) 226-9151 or usamie.civilrights@usdoj.gov.

 

Updated February 24, 2017

Topic
Civil Rights