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PHCS eyes distict policy on service animals

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PARISHVILLE - Although there are currently no students or faculty members at the school who require the use of service animals, the Parishville-Hopkinton Central School District will soon have a policy on its books to address those situations should the need arise in the future.

“Essentially it’s in line with the regulations we’re required to have,” Superintendent Darin P. Saiff said, adding that while the district would be welcoming to such individuals, there was not yet a policy to address the situation.

Board of education member Heidi Simmons said she was glad to see the district implement such a policy.

“I love service dogs and I think they’re wonderful, but people are bringing dogs into stores now and it’s getting ridiculous,” she said. “It’s so normal now that I think it’s abnormal.”

Mr. Saiff said the policy, which was reviewed by the board for the first time Monday night is a “canned policy” that came from BOCES.

The policy will allow for the use of certified dogs and miniature horses.

“For the purpose of this policy, a service animal is defined as any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild, or domestic, trained, or untrained, will not be considered service animals,” the policy states.

The one exception to the policy, though, is miniature horses.

The policy also states, “Where reasonable, the Board of Education also allows the use of miniature horses on school grounds by individuals with disabilities. Such use will only be permitted where a miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks to benefit an individual with a disability. The use of miniature horses by individuals with disabilities will be subject to the considerations and restrictions permitted by federal and/or state law.”

Board of Education President Ward Remington said school officials would be allowed to ask for proof that the animal was a certified service animal, but they could not ask what the animal was being used for.

“If it’s a service animal, it has a patch,” said Board of Education member B. Resa Remington.

Board of Eduction member James Young said he felt the policy was a little restrictive, but noted the board could also come back to it if necessary.

“It’s pretty restrictive, but I think we could alter it if we had to,” he said. “I can’t imagine someone having a cat as a service animal.”

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