Society

Supreme Court To Decide If Girl Can Take Dog To School

| by David Bonner

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently deciding whether a Michigan girl has the Constitutional right to have her service dog at school with her.

The case involves the Jackson County school district’s refusal to let 8-year-old Ehlena Fry attend classes with her service dog, Wonder.

With the assistance of the Michigan ACLU, she and her parents are suing the school district. After lower courts ruled against them, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up the case in June.

Ehlena has cerebral palsy and uses her dog to help with a variety of tasks. But the Napoleon Community Schools told her that her dog was not welcome because they had human aids to assist her.

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Ehlena’s mother, Stacy Fry, explains the importance of her daughter’s service dog, as noted on WWMT:

A lot of people with disabilities that's very important, you know, to have some sort of control over their life. And so a service animal, even for young children, gives them that constant in their life that they may not have otherwise had. You don't take your parents to school with you but you can take your serve dog to school with you and that's a constant safety.

The ACLU argues that the school discriminated against Ehlena in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, by failing to make reasonable modifications to their policies and practices.

"This case could once and for all remove unfair legal hurdles for victims of discrimination across the county that prevent them from seeking justice guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act," said Michael J. Steinberg, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan. "We're encouraged that the Supreme Court will give Ehlena her day in court. To force a child to choose between her independence and her education is not only illegal, it is heartless."

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The Fry family is anxiously awaiting the final ruling, which is likely to come next year. As Stacy explains, "We're hopeful that the Supreme Court will make it clear that schools can't treat children with disabilities differently and stand in the way of their independence.”

Sources: WWMT, ACLU / Photo credit: ACLU

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