Amherst-Pelham Regional Public Schools




170 Chestnut Street,
Amherst MA 01002

Policy ACEA: Service Animals in Schools

Home 5 Policy ACEA: Service Animals in Schools

The Amherst Pelham Regional School District acknowledges its responsibility to permit students and/or adults with disabilities to be accompanied by a “service animal” in its school buildings, in classrooms, and at school functions, as required by the Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and its implementing regulations found at 28 CFR Part 35, subject to the following:

  • All requests for an individual with a disability, attending or working in our schools, to be accompanied by a service animal must be addressed in writing to the Superintendent of Schools and must contain required documentation of vaccinations. This written request must be delivered to the Superintendent of Schools’ Office at least 10 business days prior to bringing the service animal to school or to a school function.
  • Only a dog or a miniature horse may qualify as a service animal pursuant to Title II of the ADA. No other species of animal, whether wild or domestic, will be permitted in schools as a “service animal.”
  • Owners of a service animal must provide annual proof that the animal is up to date on all of its required vaccinations as determined by the animal’s veterinarian, or, if such proof is not available, then as determined by the school district’s veterinarian of choice.In order to provide the required proof, the animal’s veterinarian must certify in writing, signed by him/her, that all vaccinations are current.
  • All service animals must be spayed or neutered.
  • All service animals must be treated for, and kept free of, fleas and ticks[1].
  • All service animals must be kept clean and groomed to avoid shedding and dander[2].
  • Owners of service animals are liable for any harm or injury caused by the animal to other students, staff, visitors, and/or property.The student’s parent or legal guardian will be required to sign a waiver of liability prior to the service animal coming to the school or to the school sponsor’s activity.
  • The animal must be “required” by the individual with a disability.
  • The animal must be “individually trained” to do work or a task for the individual with a disability.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.
  • For students on an IEP or 504 plan, if a request is made to allow the student to have a service animal at school or at a school-sponsored function, the IEP or 504 Team will consider the request, and whether it can provide services and/or accommodations that would serve the stated purpose of the service animal.If the Team determines that it can and proposes alternative accommodations and/or services, then the request to allow a service animal may be denied.This determination will be made on a case by case basis.
  • The school district is responsible for providing a safe learning environment for students, teacher and staff.If the presence of a service animal poses a health or safety risk to another member of the school community, as documented by a physician, the school will weigh the needs of all parties and will put forth a plan to provide reasonable accommodations.This scenario is most likely to be raised in the context of a severe, life threatening allergies. The school district will assess each situation on a case by case basis and may exclude the service animal if the animal’s presence poses a threat to the health, safety and well-being of anyone who will potentially come in contact with the service animal.
  • Special Provisions/Miniature Horses:Requests to permit a miniature horse to accompany a student or adult with a disability in school buildings, in classroom, or at school functions, will be handled on a case-by-case basis, considering:
    • The type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate these features.
    • Whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse.
    • Whether the miniature horse is housebroken.
    • Whether the miniature horse’s presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation.
  • Removal of a Service Animal: A school administrator may ask an individual with a disability or his parents to remove a service animal form a school building, a classroom, or from a school function if any one of the following circumstances occurs:
    • The animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it.
    • The animal is not housebroken.
    • The animal’s presence would “fundamentally alter” the nature of the service, program, or activity.
    • The animal does not meet the requirements for cleanliness and grooming as outlined above.
  • A service animal must have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the service animal’s safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the handler’s control.
  • The school system is not responsible for the care or supervision of a service animal, including walking the animal or responding to the animal’s need to relieve itself.
  • The school district is not responsible for providing a staff member to walk the service animal or to provide any other care or assistance to the animal.
  • Students with service animals are expected to care and supervise their animal. In the case of a young child or a student with disabilities who is unable to care for or supervise his service animal, the parent is responsible for providing care and supervision of the animal. Issues related to the care and supervision of service animals will be addressed on a case-by-case basis in the discretion of the building administrator.


Reference:       ADA Regulations, 28 CFR Part 35 (as amended, 2010)


Approved by Region:  September 9, 2014




[1] If the service animal does not meet this requirement at any time, the service animal may be removed by the school district.  All costs associated with such removal and boarding, if necessary, will be borne by the owner of the service animal.  The service animal will not be permitted to return to school property or any school activity until all costs associated with its removal have been paid. 


[2] If the service animal does not meet this requirement at any time, as determined by the Principal or his/her designee, the service animal may be removed by the school district and will not be allowed to return until the issue is addressed.