An 8-year-old girl is currently at the center of a conversation regarding whether or not service animals should be treated like any other piece of necessary medical equipment in public schools.
Kelsey McGuire, a student in Illinois’ Sherrard School District, has epilepsy. She has a service dog named Jasper that is trained to watch and listen for any signs of the seizures that McGuire regularly experiences.
“He’s very important to my daughter. Jasper can sense anxiety. If Kelsey’s eyes open at night, he’s trained to get us,” said Kelsey’s mother Brandi McGuire, according to QCOnline. "That dog has to be with my daughter all the time. She takes full care of Jasper, and Jasper takes care of her.”
According to a staff member at Kelsey’s school, however, Jasper cannot be with the girl at all times like her mother suggests. Family attorney John Doak suggests that a particular staff member contacted the McGuire family on three separate occasions asking the family to meet with school officials before bringing Jasper back to the school. After two meetings, the dog was allowed to return. After the third meeting, however, the McGuire family transferred Kelsey to a new school — Rock Island’s Jordan Catholic School.
Doak claims that Kelsey is “thriving” at her new school, but still wants to resolve the issue at her old school.
The Sherrard school district has posted a statement on its website regarding “multiple requests for information in regards to the Due Process situation currently happening in the district,” which means that the district is currently unable to comment on the matter.