Carol Sadler
Special Education Consultant/Advocate
1105 Rock Pointe Look
Woodstock, GA 30188

I am a lay Parent Advocate assisting parents of children with disabilities in school IDEA, 504 and SST meetings. I am a former CHADD and LDA Coordinator, graduate of the 1st GA Advocacy Office PLSP legal training course and most importantly parent of two children with various disabilities.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Judge rules to allow service dog for Columbia, Ill., boy with autism

FYI – the service animal doesn’t require an IEP, the child does.  They are merely trying to use IDEA to deny the dog.


Advocacy & Consulting Services - IEPadvocate4you
Carol Sadler, Special Education Consultant/Advocate
GA Advocacy Office PLSP I Graduate
1105 Rock Pointe Look
Woodstock, GA 30188


"There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people." ---- Thomas Jefferson


Information contained in this communication is confidential and privileged. It is not meant to represent legal or medical advice, but rather advice given based on my knowledge as a trained Parent Advocate by the GA Advocacy Office, Council of Parent Advocates & Attorneys, CHADD, LDA, the GA DOE Parent Mentor program as an invited guest and the special education attorneys that I often work with on educational matters. Please do not forward without my permission.! Fark logoFark It!

Judge rules to allow service dog for Columbia, Ill., boy with autism

autism, columbia, illinois, boy, kalbfleisch

Carter Kalbfleisch, 5, poses with his support dog, Corbin, an 11-month-old bouvier, in a park in Columbia, Il. Tuesday afternoon. (By J.B. Forbes/P-D)

By Nancy Cambria



WATERLOO — An Illinois school district will have to at least temporarily allow a service dog into one of its special education classrooms, but not in time for his partner's first day of school.

Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Dennis Doyle granted a preliminary injunction against the Columbia Community School District, which told the parents of a 5-year-old autistic boy in June that he would not be allowed to bring his new service dog to school.

The judge set another hearing for Monday for both sides to discuss ways the district can safely accommodate the dog, a bouvier named Corbin, as well as other children in Carter Kalbfleisch's pre-kindergarten special education class. Carter, who got the dog last month, is scheduled to begin school Monday, but Doyle said it would be unfair for the district to take on the dog by Monday without further discussion between both parties. He set no deadline for the dog to enter the classroom.

"We're absolutely relieved, but at the same time we still have a battle ahead of us," said Carter's mother, Melissa Kalbfleisch, after the judge's ruling. "It's not over yet."



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The ruling Thursday was not a final decision on the matter, merely the judge's opinion that the dog and the child should be allowed to go to school until a full court hearing was held on the matter. The judge said Carter would likely experience setbacks if separated from the dog. Since getting Corbin, Carter has had fewer, less intense tantrums and has been better able to interact with the world, his parents said.

The judge also rejected the district's claims the dog was not a service dog and that it was an unfair burden to the rest of the students.

District lawyer Christi Flaherty argued the dog was not part of Carter's Individual Education Plan, known as an IEP. Because of this, the district had not been able to ascertain if the dog was necessary for Carter to obtain an adequate and appropriate education as required by state law.

But Doyle said he thought Illinois law guaranteeing students the right to bring service dogs to all school functions took precedent.

Several district officials as well as the parent of another student testified on behalf of the school district during the daylong hearing. According to court officials, the parent said her child suffered severe allergies and would not be able to attend class with the dog.

Melissa Kalbfleisch said during her testimony the bouvier breed is hypoallergenic, and that is why it was trained for service work with young children.

Superintendent Ed Settles testified it would be a dangerous precedent to allow the service animal without an IEP and would enable any of the district's 230 special education students to bring an animal to school.

"If 230 students were to bring animals, it would be catastrophic to the degree it would be uncontrollable and very unhealthy to the students," Settles said.

But during his ruling, Doyle was unmoved by Settles' argument. The state law guaranteeing service animals in schools was enacted in 1991.

"I gather from Mr. Settles that this is really a new situation for the district, but the statute has been around for a long time."