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ACLU suit targets Evansville schools’ service-dog restrictions

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Evansville public schools’ restrictive policy on service dogs is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ACLU of Indiana contends in a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of two high-schoolers whose medical conditions require the animals.

M.T. and R.J are sophomores at Reitz and Harrison high schools respectively. They claim in the suit they and their families were unaware when school started of policies passed over the summer that require significant documentation regarding the animals two weeks before the animals may accompany students to school.

According to ACLU, M.T. has severe diabetes that can cause life-threatening changes in blood sugar, and her dog Layla alerts when the changes are occurring. R.J. has a rare mitochondrial disorder that causes seizures that prevent her from supporting her own weight without pain and discomfort, and her dog Diesel supports her mobility and balance and keeps her safe in the event of a seizure.

The suit aims to halt the policies it contends place unreasonable demands on disabled students and their families.

“The Americans with Disabilities Act requires schools and other public entities to accommodate people with disabilities and specifically forbids the type of unique burdens that are being placed on the students here,” said ACLU of Indiana Staff Attorney Gavin M. Rose.

The complaint, M.T., et al. v. Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation, 3:13-cv-00171-RLY-WGH, is in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Evansville Division.
 

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