A 13-year-old Michigan girl with cerebral palsy has just won a huge victory for children with disabilities throughout the country. The U.S. Supreme Court sided with the young girl, who was prevented from having her service dog with her at school.
In this issue, we’ll talk about the case and what it means.
The Case at a Glance
When she began kindergarten, the girl’s parents sought permission from the school district for her service dog, Wonder, to accompany her.
Wonder is a goldendoodle (a cross-breed golden retriever and poodle) service dog trained to help the girl open doors and pick up items – all the while providing the girl with a degree of independence.
Instead, the school district maintained that adult aides in the school would be able to help the girl.
Even though officials for the school later agreed to allow Wonder on their campus, they placed a host of restrictions on the dog, severely limiting the ability Wonder to fulfill his purpose. The girl’s parent decided to home-school her before transferring her to a different school that allowed Wonder on campus with no restrictions.
Parents Sue School District
In 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the girl’s parents against the Jackson County School District on the grounds that the district discriminated against the girl in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
However, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the lawsuit should be thrown out because the girl’s parents had not asked for an administrative hearing under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Supreme Court Rules
After a host of other legal moves, the case ultimately was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. In a unanimous decision, the Court ruled to streamline discrimination cases that are in federal courts.
What Wonder’s Doing Now
Wonder is now 9 and is retired. His days are now filled by simply being the girl’s companion.
About Wonder, the girl’s mother said, “He’s her sidekick and that constant reassurance. He’s given her the confidence to navigate her environment more independently. Socially and emotionally, he’s given her confidence to do things she wasn’t able to previously; he was that bridge.”
Call The Fitzgerald Law Firm If Your Child Experienced A Birth Injury
If your child has cerebral palsy stemming from a birth injury, we want to talk with you about your options. We’ll investigate your case and aggressively pursue compensation to help cover medical treatments, in-home care, rehab, surgery and other needs.
The first consultation is always free, so call The Fitzgerald Law Firm at 800-323-9900.