School Shoos Service Dog
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 6, 2004
MOUNT VERNON, KENTUCKY--The family of a 7-year-old girl with epilepsy has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, claiming their school district discriminated against her when it ordered her service dog removed.
Cheyenne Gilliam brought her 55-pound Weimaraner, Mikki, to her first day of school on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
Mikki can sense when Cheyenne will have a seizure and alerts her by licking the palms of her hand. This lets Cheyenne know to sit down on the floor so she will not hit her head when the seizure starts. During the seizure, Mikki lies across Cheyenne to provide a sense of security.
Even though Cheyenne takes medication to control her epilepsy, she still experiences three to five seizures each week, explained her mother, Jennifer Gilliam.
The school sent the dog home claiming it could be a liability to the district, might disrupt the classroom, might frighten some children, or might cause allergic reactions.
Cheyenne's mother said she was particularly frustrated that the issue is coming up now because she has been working with the school for the past two months to prepare them for Mikki.
"I really don't want her to fall behind," she said of Cheyenne.
Rockcastle County Schools Superintendent Larry Hammond said the school board's attorney is reviewing the case.