It is the policy of Colfax-Mingo Community Schools to foster an equal education environment for all students, employees, and community members within the district. The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance to the district on the proper use of assistance animals while on district property. The district shall allow the use of qualified service animals and assistive animals to accompany individuals with disabilities in all areas of district buildings where the public is normally allowed to go. This can include classrooms, cafeterias, and school buses. Individuals with disabilities are people who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Service animals are dogs and in some instances, miniature horses trained to do work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities. Assistive animals are simians or any other animal specially trained or in the process of being trained to assist a person with a disability.

Service animals and assistive animals must be current on all required vaccinations. Service animals and assistive animals also must be under control while on district grounds. The animal may be under control by either the individual with a disability or a handler of the service or assistive animal. Under control means harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the animal’s work, in which case under voice or other directive control.

Miniature Horses as Service Animals

Miniature horses shall be allowed as service animals within the district whenever it is reasonable to allow them. Factors to consider when determining reasonableness include: whether the miniature horse is housebroken; whether the miniature horse is under the owner’s control; whether the facility can accommodate the miniature horse’s type, size, and weight; and whether the miniature horse’s presence will not compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for the safe operation of the facility.

Role and Purpose of Certified Assistance Dogs

Professional therapy dogs certified with their owners/handlers as certified assistance dog teams provide emotional and physical support in educational settings. These highly trained dogs model good behavior, tolerance, and acceptance. All certified assistance dog teams in the Colfax-Mingo Community School District work to support and positively influence student achievement.

Definition, Certification, and Approval for Use of Therapy Dogs

Professional therapy dogs are trained and tested to provide specific physical or therapeutic functions under the direction and control of a qualified handler who works with the dog as a team, and as part of the handler’s occupation or profession. A professional therapy dog has been temperament tested by a trainer affiliated with an organization recognized as qualified to perform temperament testing. Therapy dogs, along with their handlers, perform services in institutional settings, community-based group settings, or with individuals who have disabilities.

Professional therapy dogs have been certified by a trainer/evaluator recognized by the Colfax-Mingo Community School District. Professional therapy dogs are owned by a professional educator in the district who wishes to use a therapy dog to augment their educational program.

Professional therapy dogs may be used in school settings on a regular basis once the following documentation is in place:

  1. Administrative Approval: The use of a therapy dog must be approved by the building administrator in which the handler works. A letter stating administrator approval should be kept on file in the building in which the handler works and a copy sent to the Superintendent.
  2. Vaccination, Health, and Grooming Requirements: The owner/handler must provide a record of annual vaccinations received by the therapy dog and signed by a licensed veterinarian. These health records should be kept on file in the building in which the handler works and a copy sent to the Superintendent. The therapy dog should:
    • Receive all necessary annual vaccinations.
    • Receive an annual comprehensive wormer or fecal check.
    • Be checked for external parasite control. Owners/handlers will administer preventative parasite (flea and tick) control and heartworm medication year-round.
    • Be groomed and bathed regularly. For dogs in a working environment, monthly to bi-monthly baths are recommended as is daily brushing. Good judgment should be used based on the dog’s hair, skin, and dander concerns. The owner/handler must also ensure proper health care through regular brushing of the dog’s teeth (several times weekly), nail trims as needed, and weekly ear cleaning/checks.
  1. Training Documentation: A copy of all certifications of completion should be kept on file in the building in which the handler works and a copy sent to the Superintendent.
  2. Review of Guidelines and Procedures:   Guidelines and procedures for the use of professional therapy dogs will be reviewed as needed throughout the year as determined by the building administrator, handler, and Superintendent.

The privilege to bring the therapy dog into the school setting may be terminated should the owner/handler or the dog behave in a way deemed unprofessional or unsafe.

When a professional educator in the district uses a professional therapy dog according to the above guidelines, the building in which the handler works and the professional educator will be covered by the district’s general liability coverage.

Exclusion of Service and Assistive Animals

In certain limited circumstances, it may be reasonable to exclude the use of a service or assistive animal from district property. The Superintendent is permitted to exclude service and assistive animals from district buildings and property in the following circumstances:

  • The presence of the animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others.
  • The owner or handler is unable to control the animal.
  • The animal is not housebroken.
  • The presence of the animal significantly disrupts or interferes with the educational process.
  • The presence of the animal would require a fundamental alteration to the program.

If a service animal is properly excluded from district property, the district shall provide the student served by the animal the opportunity to participate in the program, service, or activity without having the service animal on district property.

NOTE: The use of service and assistive animals is a civil right established by federal and state laws. However, the use of emotional support and therapy animals does not necessarily have the same legal protections.

Date of Adoption: December 21, 2020