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11-Year-Old Forced to Learn at Home When School Bans Her Service Dog

Posted by on Sep. 13, 2013 at 8:36 AM
  • 11 Replies

11-Year-Old Forced to Learn at Home When School Bans Her Service Dog

by Jeanne Sager

diabetic 11-year-old service dogA school district has denied an 11-year-old girl with diabetes from bringing her service dog to school. Crazy violation of her rights? Not so fast.

Service dogs are an amazing innovation for hundreds of thousands of people out there with special needs -- everything from blindness to PTSD to diabetes. Who doesn't love a service dog?

Well, a kid with an allergy to dogs, for one.

That's why the Rush Henrietta Central School District has told Madyson Siragusa her dog will have to stay home, even though it cost her family $20,000, and even though the specially trained yellow Labrador retriever can sense the rapid fluctuations in her blood sugar level. The district sent the Siragusa family a letter explaining that Duke would potentially be a distraction, scare other children, and aggravate allergies.

Can you blame them?

They've essentially been asked to pit one kid's rights against another's.

And there is no easy answer.

It's not that I don't feel bad for Madyson here. Living with Type 1 diabetes is no easy feat. She's just 11. She just wants to be a normal kid!

But I've seen pet allergies firsthand. My daughter has a friend who cannot come into my house without her eyes puffing up, without sneezing. We've tried it with medicine, but the longer the little girl spends in my house with my dogs and cats, the more miserable she gets. Her allergies are on the low end. For some folks, it's worse. They have asthma attacks. Hives build up on their chests. Their throats swell up.

Imagine that daily, in your classroom? How do you learn?

And sure, that kid could stay home, but why? They're going to school, not a place where dogs generally are accepted. It's not like you're telling someone with a nut allergy not to eat nuts here. It's not an "obvious" solution.

So here we are: one kid needs the dog. One kid needs the dog to be gone.

What is a school district to do? They've told Madyson she's welcome at school, where the school nurse will be charged with helping her handle her diabetes under the direction of a district nurse practitioner. The family is (understandably) worried, so they've opted instead for their daughter to learn at home with a district-provided tutor ... and her dog at her side.

There's the potential the Siragusas will sue. It's their right. But I hope they don't.

I hope, instead, they use this moment to teach their daughter that sometimes there has to be give and take in life, that we often have to make concessions for one another.

It's an unfortunate truth, but at some point our kids need to learn that sometimes one person's "right" supersedes another. Sometimes one person's "right" puts another person in danger.

Take, for example, the parents who pitch a hissy because their kids have a "right" to bring their favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwich to school. What about the right of the little boy who will die if he's in the same room as a PB&J? Whose "right" is more important? Whose "right" takes precedence?

It's not easy to parse out who is right in most situations, and this one is no exception. Who wants to put an 11-year-old in this situation?

But this is LIFE. Our kids are going to be faced with situations like this dozens, no hundreds, of times in the years to come. We need to teach them how to handle that.

What do you think the school should do?

by on Sep. 13, 2013 at 8:36 AM
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Replies (1-10):
sarahjz
by Bronze Member on Sep. 13, 2013 at 9:55 AM

I think in this instance the girl should be allowed to bring her service dog to school, and they should make accomodations for the person with allergies.  For example, put them in seperate classrooms, foot the bill for a daily dose of allergy meds, etc.  Diabetes is life-threatening, an allergy to pet dander, is not. 

Ednarooni160
by Eds on Sep. 13, 2013 at 12:09 PM

I'm not sure about this..  A dog in a school full of kids would be a HUGE distraction and of course there are the usual bullies.. Kids don't GET.the importance of these things and some do but just don't care..For the safety of the girl and the dog..probably would be better not to go to the school with the dog until perhaps highschool and even then you have the bullies.  So to answer the question..I don't know what the school should do or not do..there are risks either way..  As a parent I wouldn't send a kid with an animal every day to school..I would home school and/or find private tutoring. 

poietes
by Member on Sep. 13, 2013 at 12:16 PM

What a tough situation. And an asthma attack brought on by pet dander can absolutely be life threating. Also many many people have controlled their diebetes with out having a dog tell them. I don't feel a child should have to pollute their body with chemicals every single day just so they can go to school either. It's just a tough situation on every angle. I think the school is doing what they can. 

JanuaryBaby06
by on Sep. 13, 2013 at 10:12 PM

i think the school did what was right in this situation.

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Sep. 13, 2013 at 10:55 PM

Let the girl go to school with her dog -

- in a classroom with no kids who are allergic to dogs.

It will require some work - but come on, it's not impossible, by any stretch.


stringtheory
by Bronze Member on Sep. 13, 2013 at 11:02 PM
You can't force medicate a child with allergies. I always hate that suggestion in these cases. Not questioning the validity of the dog in this case, but what does a service dog do for a diabetic that the nurse as suggested couldn't? I have a cousin who was diagnosed at a very young age with diabetes that managed without a dog..again, I realize everyone is different but I had not heard of this use before, so just curious...
grandmab125
by Platinum Member on Sep. 14, 2013 at 1:05 AM

 You can't have kids assigned to different classes because one kid wants to bring her service dog.  In elementary school the kids usually have the same teacher all day, and are usually grouped by their abilities.  So you think that they should just jumble them all up, have the slower kids mixed in with the smarter kids, which would then slow down the smarter kids?

If the girl's diabetes is hard to control, the school nurse could test her every hour or half hour.

Besides which do you have any idea how many kids are allergic to dogs and/or cats?

Quoting SallyMJ:

Let the girl go to school with her dog -

- in a classroom with no kids who are allergic to dogs.

It will require some work - but come on, it's not impossible, by any stretch.

 

 

grandma B

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Sep. 14, 2013 at 1:54 AM

I think it's just simple reshuffling.

If you have four 6th grade classes, you just make sure there are no kids in one class who are allergic to dogs. Put the girl in that class. Not hard at all.

Elementary school classes are sub-grouped in the class by ability - not the entire class. Let's say there are 4 main reading levels: A, B, C, D. There are some A, B, C, and D kids in each of those classrooms. So if this girl is a level B, for example, she can go into any one of four classrooms.

It's not that hard.


Quoting grandmab125:

 You can't have kids assigned to different classes because one kid wants to bring her service dog.  In elementary school the kids usually have the same teacher all day, and are usually grouped by their abilities.  So you think that they should just jumble them all up, have the slower kids mixed in with the smarter kids, which would then slow down the smarter kids?

If the girl's diabetes is hard to control, the school nurse could test her every hour or half hour.

Besides which do you have any idea how many kids are allergic to dogs and/or cats?

Quoting SallyMJ:

Let the girl go to school with her dog -

- in a classroom with no kids who are allergic to dogs.

It will require some work - but come on, it's not impossible, by any stretch.


 



grandmab125
by Platinum Member on Sep. 14, 2013 at 3:43 AM

 Not in the school my girls went to.  It was one of four neighborhood elementary schools in our town.  Theirs was a small school, and had only two classes for each grade K-5.  The kids were grouped with more advanced in one class, average and slower in the other.  Then they stayed with the same classmates for 2nd through 5th.  The kids are tracked all the way through elementary school, from second grade on.  First grade tends to be a little more of a mish mash because they don't know the kids abilities yet.  It was the same way when I was a kid  from 1st through 8th.

In fact when my oldest went into 5th grade, the principal screwed her and a little boy by putting them in the other class.....just so that the one teacher didn't have a larger class than the other....not that the classes were large...around 20/22 per class.

I went to the principal the next day and asked why they did that.  She said it was just a numbers move, and assured me my daughter wouldn't be slowed down.  Well a few days later my daughter came home and told me I had to buy this paper back book for her literature class.  You see, the teacher was slowing her and Timmy down because not one kid in this class was in the same reading book they had finished the year before.  The kids were also months behind my daughter and Timmy in math.  The teacher was too lazy to group her kids by ability.

I went back in infuriated with the teacher and the principal.  They then agreed they would send my daughter to the other class (the one she should have been in in the first place) for reading.  Well, I didn't find out till the end of school that year, that she was missing half of her math class each day (good thing she's smart, so it didn't matter), because the teachers didn't coordinate their schedules.

The only reason I didn't insist she be put in the class she should have been in, is because when we moved to that neighborhood (different part of same town), she had a hard time making friends in school.  It turned out that even in 4th grade there was already a large clique of snot nosed girls in her class.  (Even her gym teacher admitted that she had never had a class that cliquey in all her years of teaching.)  She had made a friend in the slower class and wanted to stay there.

So, no, you can't always jumble the classes to accommodate one child.  What happens when that girl gets to jr high with maybe a couple hundred kids in her grade, and they have different teachers for each subject?  You would expect the school to make sure that in each class (6 or 7 different subjects) that girl will be in has no kid that is allergic to dogs?  That would be a scheduling nightmare for the school.  I'll guarantee you there will be a kid or two in every class that she will be in, whether it's English, Math, Social Studies, gym, etc. who has allergies to dogs. 

Quoting SallyMJ:

I think it's just simple reshuffling.

If you have four 6th grade classes, you just make sure there are no kids in one class who are allergic to dogs. Put the girl in that class. Not hard at all.

Elementary school classes are sub-grouped in the class by ability - not the entire class. Let's say there are 4 main reading levels: A, B, C, D. There are some A, B, C, and D kids in each of those classrooms. So if this girl is a level B, for example, she can go into any one of four classrooms.

It's not that hard.

 

Quoting grandmab125:

 You can't have kids assigned to different classes because one kid wants to bring her service dog.  In elementary school the kids usually have the same teacher all day, and are usually grouped by their abilities.  So you think that they should just jumble them all up, have the slower kids mixed in with the smarter kids, which would then slow down the smarter kids?

If the girl's diabetes is hard to control, the school nurse could test her every hour or half hour.

Besides which do you have any idea how many kids are allergic to dogs and/or cats?

Quoting SallyMJ:

Let the girl go to school with her dog -

- in a classroom with no kids who are allergic to dogs.

It will require some work - but come on, it's not impossible, by any stretch.

 

 

 

 

 

grandma B

Bonita131
by Bronze Member on Sep. 14, 2013 at 9:24 AM

It's time kids with allergies were told to stay home. It's gone way too far, kids can't eat this or that or bring this or that to school because little billy or susie has allergies.  It's total bull-crap that 99% of schoolkids have to kow tow to the demands of 1% of kids with allergies.

Got a kid with an allergy? Home school your kid like you should be doing.

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