By JOHN McCALLUM
Managing Editor 

Cheney adopts service animal policy

 

Last updated 11/21/2019 at 9:18am



AIRWAY HEIGHTS – The Cheney School District Board of Directors unanimously adopted a policy at their only meeting in November, held at Sunset Elementary School, which allows service animals to be used for the first time in the district’s eight schools.

While no discussion was taken at the Nov. 13 meeting in Airway Heights, the board did get an overview of the new policy from Assistant Superintendent Tom Arlt at its Oct. 23 meeting. According to Arlt, the district has received several requests and a few attempts to allow dogs in school facilities as service animals or under the pretense they are service animals.

The new policy stipulates a service animal as “any dog or miniature horse that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability.” The language, which Arlt said is lifted from state statutes, adds that emotional support, well-being, comfort, companionship or any crime deterrent derived from the animal’s presence do not constitute work or tasks under the definition.


The Legislature added miniature horses last year, Arlt said. Administrators presented with allowing an animal into the building as a service animal cannot ask for any documentation or demonstration of its abilities, nor require the animal to wear a vest or other piece of gear that would identify it as a service animal.

In fact, only two questions are allowed to be asked: If the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform.

“It’s a confirmation that an animal can perform a certain task or job,” Arlt said. “If anything is violated, the animal can be excluded.”

At the Nov. 13 meeting, Arlt told the board there were no changes made to the policy since the Oct. 23 meeting. He did affirm a board request about signage, noting that signs signifying no pets allowed in buildings, but service animals are welcome had begun being posted at district facilities.

In other board business at the Nov. 13 meeting, the directors unanimously approved an annual resolution certifying the district’s ability to collect excess property taxes in 2020. Those include debt service payments on the district’s outstanding bonds in the amount of $9.192 million, last year’s “enrichment levy,” formerly known as a maintenance and operations levy, in the amount of $6.4 million and the first installment of the recently approved, two-year capital facilities levy in the amount of $2.085 million.


The board approved the district’s annual Highly Capable Student Program plan, a new constitution for Three Springs High School, and held the first readings of revisions to policies on use of tobacco and nicotine products and delivery devices, and students and telecommunications devices. The board also held a first reading of a new policy on “Home Hospital Instruction” for students “who are unable to attend school for an estimated period of at least four weeks and not more than 18 weeks due to a temporary disability or illness.”

Arlt said the district already has two students in need of such instruction, a first-grader and a high school sophomore and added a high school junior the same day the policy was introduced to the board.

At the request of Superintendent Rob Roettger, the board postponed until its December meeting a resolution considering the acquisition of real property. The district is in the process of negotiating on land for a new elementary school in northwest Airway Heights, and Roettger said they had asked for a two-week extension in those negotiations because of “loose ends that need tying up on due diligence” issues such as sewer, water and other utilities.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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