District bans guide dogs

District+bans+guide+dogs

Caitlin Stein, News Editor

Guide dogs will not be seen on any district campus until further notice after a local elementary student had an allergic reaction to a service dog in class in December.

The San Ramon Valley Unified School District is creating a new policy regarding service dogs, in hopes of improving communication with parents when animals are present at school, according to the district superintendent for education services Chris Williams.

The new policies will explain what rules and steps must be followed before any animal is allowed on school grounds, said Williams.

“(We) will be sure to send notification to other families when any animal is on campus, even for educational purposes,” said Williams.

Williams said the district’s main goal is to protect all students and the animals, too.

For now, even those who ask for permission to use a guide dog on campus will be denied.

“(We) can’t let them right now,” said Principal Mark Corti, noting that the district, not the school, controls the use of guide dogs on campus.

In the past, students who train guide dogs, such as senior Miranda Shakes, never had to ask for district permission. All Shakes had to do was email Corti and her teachers that she would be bringing a guide dog on campus.

Shakes remembers notifying her teacher about bringing in her guide dog, Thistle, last year.

“One of my teachers, Mr. Quick, is allergic to dogs and told me he had no reaction at all whatsoever to Thistle,” said Shakes.

Sophomore Zara Minwalla believes high school students should be able to recognize a potential hazard to their healths.

“I don’t think anything bad will happen,” said Minwalla. “If you are allergic or scared, then stay away.”

Although there was a blind student on campus several years ago, guide dogs mainly stepped onto school grounds to be trained by students, Corti said.

“Guide dogs have been going to public schools for over 40 years without incidence,” says Shakes.

Senior Anna Goodman, a former guide dog trainer, doesn’t agree with banning guide dogs on campus.

“They are trained and need to be experienced with larger groups of people,” said Goodman.

For now, the district will continue to work hard on answering the question of allowing service dogs on campus until its new policy is in place.