FARMINGTON -- Service animals could become part of everyday school life once the Davis School Board approves a new policy.
The policy, which is on the board's agenda Tuesday, will allow students, employees and visitors to be accompanied by a service animal in school district facilities, vehicles, grounds and at functions.
Michelle Beus, legal issues specialist with Davis district, said the policy is required by the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Other Top of Utah school districts, such as Weber and Morgan, do not have a formal policy in place, but officials said they plan to comply with the federal law.
Earlier this year, federal law was amended to require all public facilities, which includes schools, to permit service animals inside.
Service animals are defined by law as either a dog or a miniature horse that is trained to perform tasks for the person with a disability, which includes physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability.
Beus said currently there are no service animals in any Davis school because the district has not allowed them. The district has made accommodations for students with disabilities, such as hiring an aide to help them get to class.
But the district recently received notice that a student will bring a service dog to school in the next few weeks. The dog is currently being trained to work with the student.
The district's proposed policy requires a 10-day notice from a student's parents or guardian, or from a district employee, of the intent to bring a service animal.
"We ask for that 10 days so we can check with the classes and make sure there are not any issues," Beus said.
Those issues include students who may be allergic to animals or have a fear of animals.
"We want school to be a safe place for everyone," Beus said.
She said school officials will work with the student who wants to bring a service animal to school, as well as with anyone who may have a problem with the animal being present. It may mean a change of class schedule in order to accommodate the needs of all students.
During a recent workshop meeting, board members were surprised to learn miniature horses were considered service animals.
Beus said she learned in training meetings that miniature horses can be housebroken and are used to help people who have balance disabilities. They also live longer than dogs.
According to the proposed policy, parents and staff who ask to bring a service animal to school must agree in writing to pay for any damage the animal may cause, as well as pay for any injuries the animal may cause to another student.
School officials will also work with students, teachers and staff about what they can do and cannot do when a service animal is in the school.