MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The Broward School District began tackling the thorny issue of allowing service animals in schools, at a workshop on Tuesday afternoon.
The issue was brought to the forefront after a Sunrise mother fought to allow her disabled son’s service dog to attend Kindergarten with him.
That mother, Monica Alboniga has filed a federal lawsuit claiming the school board is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Since getting their service dog, named Stevie, a year ago, Alboniga says it has transformed their lives.
Her six-year-old son, Anthony Marchante has cerebral palsy and is prone to seizures. The service dog detects the seizures and alerts others. Stevie also has a calming effect on Anthony.
“He’s my other child, because he’s paying attention to Anthony and helps me with him all the time. I can sleep because of Stevie,”said Alboniga.
When she tried to bring Stevie to school at Nob Hill Elementary this year with her child, the district at first said no.
Then they relented on the conditions that Alboniga provide a handler and adequate insurance coverage.
Right now, she says the school is allowing Stevie to attend class with her son. Alboniga accompanies them to school everyday.
“When Anthony is sick, he doesn’t move. All the time he has to be with Anthony,”said Alboniga.
Because of the pending lawsuit, the district can’t discuss Anthony’s case, but ,at a workshop on Tuesday, the board discussed a new service animal policy that would require providing a handler and insurance proof.
“We may have to come back to tweak the policy but we are committed to do what’s necessary for every student to be successful in school,” said Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie.
Due to the current obstacles, Alboniga is proceeding with the Federal lawsuit.
She says there are a lot of unknowns for her son’s future schooling and the necessity of their service dog.
She’s also fighting for other disabled children.