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Monday, August 26, 2013

A Service Dog, An Allergy, and the Media

In Ohio, The Columbus Dispatch reports on Shyanna Gretz, a 6-year-old autistic girl who cannot attend Morrison-Gordon Elementary School with her service dog. The special-ed teacher who was to teach Shyanna is severely allergic to dog dander.
Instead, Gretz was told, her daughter and the dog must transfer to East Elementary School, where an allergy-free special-education teacher will instruct Shyanna using the customized learning plan developed for the girl.

That’s unacceptable to [mother Charla] Gretz, who asked why a different teacher could not be assigned rather than make her daughter change schools. Morrison-Gordon is a 15- to 20-minute bus ride for her daughter, and riding to East would double the time, she said.

“She does not do well with buses,” Gretz said.

Shyanna’s autism includes being overwhelmed by sensory issues and not coping well with change, and a longer bus ride and switching schools would exacerbate both, she said.
Superintendent Carl D. Martin said Spring is welcome in the district of about 2,800 students, where about 20 percent have an identified disability, he said.

However, the accommodations made for Shyanna and her dog must be balanced against the rights of the allergic teacher, and moving the student to a different school is a reasonable solution, Martin said.

He also disputed the time that Gretz gave for the bus ride. The elementary schools are 5 miles apart, and Shyanna would not spend significantly more time on the bus, he said.

Spring is trained to calm Shyanna and to walk on a tether attached to Shyanna so the girl cannot wander.
In Ohio, The Athens News reports:
After the Columbus Dispatch ran a story about the dispute Friday, Martin said, he was deluged with media calls. "I've talked to the Dispatch, WOUB (radio), Channel 4 news (from Columbus), the Athens Messenger," he ticked off. "I've talked to" He added that one person he hasn't yet had a discussion with is Charla Gretz.