Persons with disabilities have the same right as those without disabilities to the use and enjoyment of facilities in the Baldwin County Public School System. As required by federal and state law, an individual with a disability is permitted to be accompanied by his/her service animal on school property, subject to the conditions of the service animals policy as adopted by the Baldwin County Board of Education on October 20, 2016. (Click here for a copy of the service animals policy.)
Furthermore, individuals with disabilities are permitted to be accompanied by their service animals in all areas of a public entity’s facilities where members of the public, participants in services, programs, or activities, or invitees, as relevant, are allowed to go.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 2010 Regulations define a service animal as “any dog that is individually trained to do work to perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” C.F.R. § 35.104 and § 36.014 (2010).
In addition to the provisions about service dogs, the ADA also has a separate provision about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Miniature horses generally range in height from 24 inches to 34 inches, and they generally weigh between 70 and 100 pounds.
Under the ADA, an individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such an individual. According to the § 35.014 and § 36.014 (2010), examples of work and tasks performed by service animals include, but are not limited to the following:
- Guiding people who are blind or have low vision
- Alerting people who are deaf or hard of hearing
- Providing non-violent protection or rescue work
- Pulling a wheelchair
- Assisting an individual during a seizure
- Alerting individuals to the presence of allergens
- Retrieving items
- Providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities
- Helping persons with psychiatric or neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors
- Reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, or
- Calming a person with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack.
It is important to note that animals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship or therapeutic benefits, to promote emotional well-being, or to act as a deterrent to crime are not service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In the event that a student within the Baldwin County Public School System needs to utilize a service animal, two forms will need to be completed: Request for Use of Service Animal and Service Animal Registration/Agreement.