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IMGA - Service Animals in School

Policy IMGA

Adopted: October 19, 2023
Amended: N/A

The Hopkinton 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. The dog must be wearing an up-to-date rabies tag on its collar.


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. There are several kinds of service animals that assist individuals with disabilities. Examples include, but are not limited to, animals that:


• Assist individuals who are blind or have severe sight impairments (“seeing eye dogs” or “guide dogs”)

• Alert individuals with hearing impairments to sounds;

• Pull wheelchairs or carry and pick up items for individuals with mobility impairments; • Assist individuals with mobility impairments with balance.


The District shall not assume custody, or take control of or responsibility for, any service animal or the care or feeding thereof. The owner or person having custody and control of the dog shall be liable for any damage to persons, premises, property, or facilities caused by the service animal, including, but not limited to, clean up, stain removal, etc.


If, in the opinion of the School Principal or authorized designee, any service animal is not under the control of its handler, the service animal may be excluded from the school or program. The service animal can also be excluded if it presents a direct and immediate threat to others in the school. The parent or guardian of the student having custody and control of the animal will be required to remove the service animal from District premises immediately upon notification by the School Principal.


If any student or staff member assigned to the classroom in which a service animal is permitted suffers an allergic reaction to the animal, the person having custody and control of the animal will be required to remove the animal to a different location designated by the Building Principal or designee and an alternative plan will be developed with appropriate District staff. Such a plan could include reassigning the person having custody and control of the animal to a different classroom assignment. This will also apply if an individual on school transportation suffers an allergic reaction. In this case, an alternate plan will be developed in coordination with appropriate school, District, and transportation staff and will include the involvement of the parents/guardian of the students.


When a student will be accompanied by a 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.


The Superintendent of Schools or his/her/their designee shall be responsible for developing procedures to accommodate a student’s use of a service animal in District facilities and on school transportation vehicles.


Cross References:

First Reading: October 3, 2023

Second Reading: October 19, 2023

Adopted: October 19, 2023


Legal Reference

28 C.F.R., Part 35


Source: MASC October 2023

School Committee Policies