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Missouri Schools Deny Service Dogs To Student, Aide
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 24, 2004

JEFFERSON CITY, MISSOURI--Sue Thompson, a teacher's aide for the Special School District of St. Louis County, has been battling her employer for the last two years over her right to bring her service dog, Droopy, to work.

Karen Meinke, a 14-year-old student at Pierce City Middle School, which is 260 miles away, was told last month that she could not bring her service dog, Zeus, to school.

Thompson's employer told her the dog "would be disruptive to the learning environment and could present a safety issue".

Thompson -- who relies on Droopy because of an injury to her right leg, hip and spine -- has filed complaints and a lawsuit against the district, according to the Jefferson City News Tribune. The suit is scheduled to be heard next January.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, service animals are a "reasonable accommodation" for employees with disabilities, except in circumstances where they present an immediate threat to others or a fundamental alteration of goods or services.

"Can't I be an example to these children?" asked Thompson, who works with students that have disabilities.

Zeus helps Meinke, who has hip dysplasia, which makes it hard for her to walk. She also gets dizzy from some of her medication. Her family has filed a complaint against her school with the U.S. Dept. of Education Office of Civil Rights.

"This is about a young woman who is trying to get an education as best she can," her mother, Cathy Kelley, told the News Tribune.

Related article:
"Two districts balk at service dogs helping disabled" (News Tribune)


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