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Newport-Mesa USD |  AR  6163.2  Instruction

Animals At School   

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Consistent with Board Policy 6163.2(a), the Newport Mesa Unified School District believes that animals can be used as an effective instructional aid. In addition, instruction related to the care and treatment of animals teaches students a sense of responsibility and promotes the humane treatment of living creatures.

Animals may occasionally be brought to school by the teacher or principal for educational purposes, subject to rules and precautions specified in administrative regulations related to health, safety, and sanitation. Teachers and principals shall ensure that these rules and precautions are observed in order to protect both the students and animals.

Service animals, as defined by law, may accompany students and staff at school as needed.

(cf. 3514 - Environmental Safety)

(cf. 5141.21 - Administering Medication and Monitoring Health Conditions)

(cf. 5141.23 - Asthma Management)


Animals as an Instructional Aid

1. Teachers or principals may arrange for animals to be brought to the classroom to support the instructional program. Written permission must be obtained from the principal or designee prior to the animal being brought to school. If the principal arranges for an animal to be brought to support the instructional program, written permission must be obtained by the Executive Director, Educational Services.

2. All animals brought to school must be:

a. In good physical condition.

b. Vaccinated against transmittable diseases, as appropriate.

c. In clean, safe, and suitable cages or containers or otherwise appropriately controlled.

3. If wildlife specimens are used standard precautions should be followed. This includes wearing protective gloves and a face shield by anyone handling the specimens, and treating the animal's bodily fluids and tissue as infectious.

4. With the consent of the principal or designee, animals may remain at school under the following conditions:

a. Animals may be maintained in the classroom only when specifically required to meet the needs of the science curriculum.

b. The teacher shall provide for the proper care, sanitation, feeding, and handling of the animal. Students should refrain from handling the animals unless required in order to fulfill the goals of the instructional program.

c. The teacher shall be responsible for the animal's care during periods when school is closed (e.g., winter and summer break, vacations, etc.). Animals may not be sent home with students.

d. The teacher shall be familiar with any potential dangers caused by the animal and shall give special consideration to any students who have allergies to certain animals.

5. Parents must be notified in advance of specific animals that will be brought into the classroom, allowing ample time for arrangements to be made for students with specific allergies or sensitivities.

(cf. 5141 - Health Care and Emergencies)

(cf. 5142 - Safety)

(cf. 5141.22 - Infectious Diseases)

Service Dogs for Staff

An employee who requests a service animal is required to follow the procedures for requesting a reasonable accommodation pursuant to Administrative Regulation 4032.

Service Dogs for Students

Service animals may be a reasonable accommodation for assisting an individual with disabilities while at school or school-related events.

(cf. 3541.2 - Transportation for Students with Disabilities)

(cf. 5131.1 - Bus Conduct)

(cf. 0410 - Nondiscrimination in District Programs and Activities)

(cf. 3541.2 - Transportation for Students with Disabilities)

(cf. 6159 - Individualized Education Program)

(cf. 6164.6 - Identification and Education Under Section 504)

1. Definition. A service animal is any dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The tasks must be related to the individual's disability (e.g., alerting a person who is deaf/hard of hearing, pulling a wheelchair, alerting/protecting a person who is having a seizure).

2. Notification and Certification. The owner/parent shall provide prior notice to the District to bring a service dog to a District facility as a reasonable accommodation for the student's disability. If the District has no knowledge of the student's disability, the owner/parent shall also provide physician's certification of the student's disability. The owner/parent shall provide information as to the work or task the service dog performs and the training received by both the animal and the student handler.

3. Owner/Keeper/Handler Responsibilities

a. Provide veterinarian's written confirmation of the service dog's appropriate immunizations on an annual basis;

b. Keep the service dog free of ticks and fleas, and ensure the service dog is spayed or neutered;

c. Keep the service dog in a harness, cape, or other identification/gear that readily identifies its working status;

d. Keep in full control of the service dog at all times. The care and supervision of the service dog is solely the responsibility of the student/handler;

e. Keep the service dog leashed or tethered at all times;

f. Provide identification tags on the service dog;

g. Ensure the service dog is cared for during the school day including basic needs met such as watering, feeding, walking, taking the dog out to relieve itself (as necessary);

h. Carry sufficient materials to clean up the animal's waste, immediately remove any waste, and be responsible for the proper disposal of waste. This includes the responsibility to ensure the service dog is housebroken and trained to relieve itself in appropriate areas designated by the site administrator;

i. Execute a hold harmless and waiver of liability in favor of the District. The owner and student/handler hold the District and Board of Education harmless for any consequences associated with the service dog's presence, including all property damage and/or injury to students, staff, and visitors. The owner may provide evidence of insurance naming the District and its Board of Education as additional insured to avoid the sole assumption of personal liability;

j. Ensure appropriate behavior of the service dog, including ensuring the dog is not aggressive toward others. If the service dog becomes unruly or disruptive, or is out of the control of the student/handler, the owner will be asked to remove the service dog from District property. If the improper behavior happens repeatedly, the student/handler may be required to take significant steps to mitigate the behavior before bringing the animal onto District property, facilities, and/or to District events. Mitigating activities may include muzzling a barking dog, obtaining refreshing training courses, or other appropriate activities.

4. School District/Administrator Responsibilities

a. Review the owner's request to bring a service dog on to District property in a timely manner. Identify the service the dog is trained to provide and assess health documentation for the service dog provided by owner.

b. Permit service dogs, as defined by law, on District facilities and at District activities provided owners/students comply with responsibilities outlined above.

c. Provide adequate notice to parents/guardians and staff that a service dog may be allowed in school. Note that students and staff may have extreme allergies requiring a reasonable accommodation, and a practical solution to accommodate all students' needs is required. One disorder does not take preference over another. The District will make reasonable accommodations for students and staff to relocate in the building or transfer to another building if the presence of a service dog results in a health concern for an individual.

d. Identify areas on the District or school property that are unsuitable for the service dog and share this information with the owner, student/handler, so that they can refrain from taking the dog to these areas. Otherwise, allow the service dog to accompany the student/handler at all times.

e. Identify areas for the service dog to relieve itself. However, the owner, student/handler is responsible for cleaning up if the animal defecates.

f. Provide education, awareness, and training to students and staff concerning the role of service animals as well as safety of those that may be in the physical proximity of the service dog, as necessary.

g. Document and report any disruptive behavior of the service dog. Service dogs whose behavior poses a threat to the health or safety of others or is disruptive to the school environment may be excluded at the time of the threat/disruption. The owner, student/handler is required to take steps to mitigate disruptive behavior.

5. Removal of a Service Dog

A request to remove a service dog from a District school or facility may be made if:

a. The service dog is out of the control of the owner or student/handler and the individual does not take effective action to control the service animal. It is not the District's responsibility to control a service dog.

b. The animal is not housebroken.

c. The animal's presence fundamentally alters the nature of the program, service, or activity. Examples of this include, but are not limited to, science labs, areas requiring protective clothing, technical education shops with power equipment and tools, and food preparation areas.


cabinet approved: November 15, 2016 Costa Mesa, California