Second service dog case pending
The landmark ruling in the case of Kaleb Drew and Chewey could decide how other Illinois communities resolve issues surrounding students with disabilities and their service animals.
The state’s second case involving a student with autism and his request to bring a service dog to school surfaced last spring in Columbia, Ill., 15 miles southeast of St. Louis.
A 5-year-old named Carter Kalbfleisch and his service dog Corbin were barred from his pre-kindergarten special education classroom by the Columbia Community Unit School District. Chris and Melissa Kalbfleisch, Carter’s parents, sued the school district in early summer to win the right for their son and his service dog to return to school.
In August, the Monroe County Circuit Court issued a temporary order, enforcing the statute in the Illinois School Code that allows Corbin to accompany Carter to school and to all school functions. According to the law, “service animals such as guide dogs, signal dogs or any other animal individually trained to perform tasks for the benefit of a student with a disability shall be permitted to accompany that student at all school functions, whether in or outside the classroom.”
Instead of accommodating Carter and Corbin in a Columbia classroom, school officials opted to send the pair to the Illinois Center for Autism in Fairview Heights at the district’s expense. Carter and Corbin started at their new school on Sept. 16.
The school district has appealed the judge’s order; the Kalbfleisches’ civil suit will move forward once the appellate court issues its decision.
In October, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced that she would support the Kalbfleisch family in their fight to return Carter and Corbin to their neighborhood school.
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