ANIMALS IN SCHOOL
No animal shall be brought to school without prior permission of the building Principal.
The Gardner School District is committed to providing a high quality educational program to all students in a safe and healthy environment.
School Principals, in consultation with the Health Services Providers in each building, shall utilize the Department of Public health publication “Guidelines for Animals in Schools or on School Grounds" and review student health records to determine which animals may be allowed in the school building. The decision of the Principal shall be final.
Use of animals to achieve specific curriculum objectives may be allowed by the building Principal provided student health and safety is not jeopardized and the individual requesting that the animal be brought to school is responsible for adhering to the "Guidelines for Animals in Schools or on School Grounds" and any other conditions established by the Principal to protect the health and well-being of students.
The health and well-being of students is the District's highest priority. Animals may cause an allergic reaction or otherwise impair the health of students. No animals may be brought to school or kept in the school, classroom, office or common area that may negatively impact the health of any student who must utilize that area. Animals that cause an allergic reaction or impair the health of students shall be removed from the school immediately so that no student shall have his/her health impaired and each student shall have full access to available educational opportunities.
Service Animals (Guide or Assistance Dogs)
The Gardner School Committee does not permit discrimination against individuals with disabilities, including those who require the assistance of a service animal. The District will comply with Massachusetts law concerning the rights of persons with guide or assistance dogs and with federal law and will permit such animals on school premises and on school transportation.
For purposes of this policy, a “service animal includes any dog that has been individually trained to do the work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability”. The regulations further state that “a public entity shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a miniature horse by an individual with a disability if the horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with the disability”.
Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that individuals with disabilities cannot perform themselves. Service animals are not pets. The task performed by the service animal must address one of the following needs for the disabled individual: physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, and other mental disability. The service animal can be excluded from a municipal building or school or program if its purpose is to act as a deterrent to assaultive behavior, bullying, or other misconduct, or to provide emotional support and companionship to the disabled individual. In addition, the service animal can be excluded if the animal is not under the handler’s control or if it is not housebroken. Under the standards of the ADA generally, a service animal can be excluded if the service animal presents a direct and immediate threat to others in the governmental building or school.
No particular breed of dog can automatically be excluded solely based on the perceived characteristics of the breed. Also, there are no weight or size limitations for the service dog.
When a student will be accompanied by an service animal at school or in other District facilities on a regular basis, such staff member or such student’s parent or guardian, as well as the animal’s owner and any other person who will have custody and control of the animal will be required to sign a document stating that they have read and understood the foregoing.
[Adopted: May 2011]
[Reviewed: August 2013]