Oxford School District adopts service animal policy

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Following a first reading during their May meeting, the Oxford School District Board of Trustees voted to adopt a service animal policy during their regular meeting on June 24.

A unanimous vote came without discussion or issues during the second reading of the policy.

With proof of current vaccinations, OSD will permit any animals on school premises and on school transportation, such as buses, etc., that fall under the category of a service animal. The districts policy defines a service animal, including dogs “that have been individually trained to do the work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.”

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“This is happening more and more,” OSD superintendent Brian Harvey said during the first reading of the policy. “We have not had an issue or a problem at this point, but we have always wanted to adopt policies when we’re not having an issue.”

Some of the functions and tasks listed in the policy that would be expected to be performed by a service animal include assisting individuals who are blind or have severe sight impairments such as “seeing eye dogs” or “guide dogs”; animals that alert individuals with hearing impairments to sounds; animals that pull wheelchairs or carry and pickup items for individuals with mobility impairments and assist mobility impaired individuals with balance.

The policy also states animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as a service animal under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The district will not be responsible for the care or feeding of a service animal. The student or person having custody of the animal will be responsible and liable for any damage done to district property and facilities. The parent of a child with an illness or disability along with their teachers and a school administrator will need to meet and develop a written 504 Plan consistent with the provisions of Chapter 23, Title 37, Mississippi Code 1972, which permits the use of service animals in school facilities.

If any students or teachers in a classroom where a service animal is present begin to have an allergic reaction, the animal will be required to be removed from the classroom, per the policy.