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Posted at 10:48 AM ET, 12/21/2010

Va. school won't allow kid's service dog

By Washington Post editors


Officials at a Northern Virginia elementary school say a child cannot bring his service dog to school because the animal does not meet the Fairfax County Public School system's requirements for service animals, Fox 5 reports.

Andrew Stevens has a rare form of epilepsy and the dog is trained to detect and respond to seizures. Nancy Stevens, Andrew's mother had kept her son at home for many years, but decided he should return to public school. The family's doctor prescribed a service dog.

But officials at Fort Belvoir Elementary School said the dog is not permitted on campus. The Fairfax County School System e-mailed Fox 5 the guide dog guidelines but declined to discuss the case.

Read more about Andrew's case and the dispute with Fairfax County Public Schools at Fox 5.

By Washington Post editors  | December 21, 2010; 10:48 AM ET
Categories:  Education, Virginia  
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Comments

The State of Virginia needs a enema.

Posted by: blackforestcherry | December 21, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Just another fine example of how FCPS doesn't walk the talk when it comes to inclusion.
Not surprised. At all.

Posted by: jiboo | December 21, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

It's the nature of a bureaucracy: anyone can say no, no one can say yes.

Moreover, there are no rewards or incentives for administrators who allow things, only risks and punishments. Saying no is safer when you have no real discretion.

Poor kid.

Posted by: ncooty | December 21, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

If this dog has been professionally trained to alert the boy to an imminent epileptic attack then it should be allowed to stay by the boy's side wearing a muzzle if biting is what scares the authorities. But I think their fears are more towards complaints and possible lawsuits from people who fear or are allergic to dogs.

Posted by: jcaroleclarke | December 21, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Sad. FCPS is too big to be picking on a child again. After the Office of Civil Rights decision regarding a chronically ill student at TJHSST within Fairfax County Public Schools, one would think FCPS would accommodate and include students with chronic illnesses.

Service dogs save lives. Children with chronic illnesses want to go to school and be safe.


Posted by: RubyBridges | December 21, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

FCPS can find the resources to teach illegals when they speak obscure languages, but it can't find the resources for someone with a legit medical condition. Looks like some supervisors need some nagging.

Posted by: slydell | December 21, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

To Nancy Stevens - It is against not only FEDERAL law but ALSO VA CODE to prohibit a service dog in school. I helped update the VA Code 2 years ago and if you look up VA Code ---- "places of public accommodation" has (including schools) as part of the definition. A family in Stafford was prevented from sending their son's mobility dog to school with him -- but had to allow it after the law was changed.
FCPS is BREAKING the LAW BOTH state and Federal. AND VA Law NOW ALSO recognizes 3 Unit Teams . My daughter has a service dog -- there are also at least two dogs in school in Prince William County - I am not an attorney but I suspect FCPS is opening themselves WIDE OPEN to a big lawsuit. Nancy == if you want to talk to me just call FOX 5 News Joe Feeny at Fox 5 - they just interviewed us = my daughter's service dog is named Grizwald. Call me so we can talk. Nancy

Posted by: nancy35 | December 22, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

To Nancy Stevens - It is against not only FEDERAL law but ALSO VA CODE to prohibit a service dog in school. I helped update the VA Code 2 years ago and if you look up VA Code ---- "places of public accommodation" has (including schools) as part of the definition. A family in Stafford was prevented from sending their son's mobility dog to school with him -- but had to allow it after the law was changed.
FCPS is BREAKING the LAW BOTH state and Federal. AND VA Law NOW ALSO recognizes 3 Unit Teams . My daughter has a service dog -- there are also at least two dogs in school in Prince William County - I am not an attorney but I suspect FCPS is opening themselves WIDE OPEN to a big lawsuit. Nancy == if you want to talk to me just call FOX 5 News Joe Feeny at Fox 5 - they just interviewed us = my daughter's service dog is named Grizwald. Call me so we can talk. Nancy

Posted by: nancy35 | December 22, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Ironically, other neighboring counties' school districts have no problems with service dogs. Although my son, who is constantly accompanied by his service dog (also for seizure detection), does not physically attend his school due to his medical issues, we have never had a problem when we've attended meetings there. Additionally, his special education teacher has discussed how the school district is adamant about staying within the limits of the law. IEP updates are scheduled and occur like clockwork. If an issue does arise, I feel like we are the team that the system calls for and we are able to quickly resolve it. The Stevens family definitely deserves straight-forward discussion to address any concerns and to include the service dog. But FCPS saying that a service dog isn't a service dog is illegal and unethical for the special needs education profession.

Posted by: Mac377 | December 24, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Silent Candle Light Vigil for Andrew Stevens and His Service Dog

Time: Thursday, January 6, 2011 · 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Location School Board Office, 8115 Gatehouse Road, Suite 5400, Falls Church, VA 22042
More Info: Please do not block streets or traffic or people. This is a silent candle light vigil being covered by media. We will be walking Andrew and his service dog into the school board meeting to speak about service dogs and Andrews denial of his civil right guaranteed by the ADA (1990) any suggestion­s to increase this event and its populace. angelo.john.stevens@gmail.com

Posted by: angelojohnstevens | December 27, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Way to go WashPo for putting a highly sensationalized and incomplete version of this story up.

First of all, an individual school doesn't call the shots on this - the county does. Second, the school system isn't saying that he can never have the dog, but they are saying that he should show that he can handle the dog at school independently. Why is that unreasonable? Third, I googled this kid and I see that the school is giving him a nurse (a trained human professional instead of or maybe in addition to the dog) and a classroom that has 3 teachers for only 5 students. I could only dream that my kid would get that kind of treatment.

Fairfax County Public Schools is trying to give this kid a lot of help and it sucks that the media is putting it out there like they are beating down their disabled students. I am proud that my kid goes to school in Fairfax County.

Posted by: StellaPh | December 28, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

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