The Justice Department announced today that it reached an agreement with the Gates Chili Central School District in Rochester, New York, to resolve the department’s lawsuit alleging disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The department’s complaint alleges that the School District denied a student with disabilities equal access to school by conditioning her use of a service dog on her parent providing a full-time dog handler, despite the student’s demonstrated ability to control and handle her service dog with minimal assistance and the service dog’s extensive training to serve and respond to the student and follow school routines.
Under the settlement agreement, the School District revised its Service Animal Policy and agreed to provide reasonable modifications to facilitate the use of a service dog by a student with a disability. Such modifications include the types of minimal assistance the School District refused to provide the student in this case, such as helping to tether or untether a service dog, assisting a student to get water for a service dog, and prompting a student to issue commands to a service dog. In addition, the School District will pay the student’s mother $42,000 for out-of-pocket expenses and damages for emotional distress.