The School Board of Miami-Dade County
Bylaws & Policies
Unless a specific policy has been amended and the date the policy was revised is noted at the bottom of that policy, the Bylaws and Policies of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools were adopted on May 11, 2011 and were in effect beginning July 1, 2011.


Animals are personal property and permitted in schools, on other District property, District transportation, and at District-sponsored events only with prior approval and where necessary to support specific curriculum-related projects and activities, school security programs, or to serve as service animals as required by law.

Definition of Service Animal

 A.Canine: "Service animal" pursuant to 28 C.F.R. 35.104, means any dog 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. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.

 B.Equine: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a miniature horse as a service animal if it has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability. In addition to training, health and safety considerations, the following additional considerations must be given before approval:

  1.the type, size and weight of the horse and whether the facility can accommodate those features;

  2.whether the handler has sufficient control of the horse;

  3.whether the horse is housebroken; and

  4.whether the horseís presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation.

Vaccination, Licensing and/or Veterinary Requirements

All animals, including service animals, housed on District property or brought on District property on a regular basis must meet every State and county veterinary requirement, including but not limited to, rabies vaccination or other inoculations required to be properly licensed.

The school shall not, however, require documentation that the animal has been certified, trained or licensed as a service animal. No inquiry can be made about a service animal when it is readily apparent that an animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability (e.g., the dog is observed guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision, pulling a personís wheelchair, or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with an observable mobility disability.)

Animals in Schools and Elsewhere on District Property

The Principal may permit animals to be present in classrooms to support curriculum-related projects and activities pursuant to Policy 8400 under the following conditions:

 A.The staff member seeking approval to have an animal in the classroom shall:

  1.provide a current satisfactory health certificate or report of examination from a veterinarian for the animal;

  2.take necessary precautions to protect the health and safety of students and other staff;

  3.ensure that the animal is treated humanely in appropriate and clean housing;

  4.keep the surrounding areas clean and sanitary at all times; and

 B.ensure that other staff members and parents of students in areas potentially affected by animals have been notified in writing and adjustments made to accommodate verified health-related or other concerns.

Except for service animals approved under this policy, the presence of an animal shall be disallowed if documented health concerns of a student or staff member cannot be accommodated.

Service Animals for Students

The studentís need for and use of the service animal must be documented in writing in the studentís individual educational plan (IEP), Section 504 Plan, or cumulative file.

Required Documentation

The following documentation is required prior to a service animal being allowed to accompany a student:

 A.written determination that the student will be allowed a service animal in school by IEP/504 team in current IEP or Section 504 Plan, or in studentís cumulative file by a school staff team designated by the Principal if the student does not have a current IEP or 504 plan;

 B.current satisfactory health certificate or report of examination from a veterinarian for the service animal; and

 C.Level II criminal background check for the handler pursuant to Policy 8475 if the handler is not the student.

The IEP, 504, or other designated staff team, must convene as soon as a parent/student with disabilities requests a service animal for a student. The team, no matter how it is designated, shall determine only whether the student is a student with a disability and whether the animal is a service animal under the law and this policy. The Principal or designee shall make the final determination whether required documentation has been provided for the studentís service animal and approving the use of a service animal in a school setting. When the required documentation has been provided, the service animal will be permitted to accompany the disabled student anywhere on the school campus where students are permitted to be.

Removing and/or Excluding a Studentís Service Animal

When a service animal has demonstrated that (1) it is not under the control of the handler or student, (2) sufficiently housebroken, (3) the animal is a direct threat to the health or safety of others, or (4), the animalís presence would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program or activity, the Principal shall document the behavior and determine if and when the service animal is to be removed and/or excluded from school property. When determining whether there is a "direct threat" to the health or safety of others, or a "fundamental alteration" of the service, program or activity, reasonable modifications or adjustments may be made, including keeping those students or staff who are afraid or allergic away from the animal and perhaps to another class or environment.

The Principalís decision to remove and/or exclude a service animal from school property may be appealed in accordance with the complaint procedure in Policy 5517.02. These procedures are not intended to interfere with the rights of a student, parents or an eligible student to pursue a complaint of legally prohibited discrimination with the United States Department of Educationís Office for Civil Rights, the Florida Civil Rights Commission, or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Eligibility of a Studentís Service Animal for Transportation

A service animal is permitted to ride on a school bus owned or leased upon approval pursuant to this policy and notification by the Principal or designee to the school bus routing administrator of the Transportation Department.

The student, parents, and/or handler is responsible for providing information to the driver and bus assistant regarding critical commands needed for daily interaction and emergency/evacuation.

The service animal shall board the bus by the steps with the student, not a lift, unless the student uses the lift to enter and exit the bus. While the bus is in motion, the service animal shall remain positioned on the floor at the studentís feet. A representative of the Transportation Department will meet with the animalís owner to determine whether the service animal should be secured on the bus with a tether or harness.

Situations that would cause cessation of transportation privileges for the service animal include:

 A.the student, or handler, is unable to control the service animalís behavior, which poses a threat to the health or safety of others;

 B.the service animal urinates or defecates on the bus; or

 C.the service animal does not remain in the designated area.

The student and his/her parents shall be informed of behaviors that could result in cessation of transportation privileges for the service animal, in writing, prior to the first day of transportation.

If it is necessary to suspend transportation privileges for the service animal for any of the above reasons, the decision may be appealed to the Administrative Director of Transportation.

Although transportation may be suspended for the service animal, the District shall continue to transport the student. Furthermore, unless the behavior that resulted in the service animalís removal from the bus is also documented during the school day, the service animal may still accompany the student in school.

Service Animals for Employees

The District shall provide a reasonable accommodation for a qualified individual with a disability. An employee with a disability may request authorization to use a service animal while on duty as such an accommodation. As required of all animals under this policy, an employee with a disability who will have a service animal as an accommodation will be required to provide a current satisfactory health certificate or report of examination from a veterinarian for the animal. The Principal or designee will determine if all requirements have been met and may remove or exclude a service animal under this section for the same reasons as listed above for students. An employee may appeal the schoolís decision regarding a service animal under this section according to the complaint procedures in Policy 1362.02, Policy 3362.02 and Policy 4362.02.

Service Animals for Parents, Vendors, Visitors, and Others

Pursuant to Policy 9160, individuals with disabilities who are accompanied by their service animals shall be allowed access to all areas of the District's facilities where members of the public, as participants in services, programs or activities, as vendors, or as invitees, are permitted to go. Individuals who will access any area of the Districtís facilities with their service animals should notify the Principal that their service animal will accompany them during their visit.

As required of all animals under this policy, an individual with a disability who has a service animal shall provide a current satisfactory health certificate or report of examination from a veterinarian for the animal if they will visit an area of the Districtís facilities on a regular basis.

An individual with a disability who attends a school event shall be allowed to be accompanied by his/her service animal in accordance with Policy 9160, if the individual with a disability will attend a regularly scheduled series of events with his/her service animal, the individual with disabilities will be required to provide a current satisfactory health certificate or report of examination from a veterinarian for the animal, which is required for all animals by this policy. The Principal or designee may remove or exclude a service animal under this section for the same reasons listed above for students and employees.

Restriction of District Responsibility for Service Animals

A service animal is the personal property of the individual with a disability. The School Board is not responsible for training, daily care, handling, or healthcare of service animals or for personal injury or property damage arising out of or relating to the presence or use of service animals on Board property, at District-sponsored events, or on District-sponsored transportation.

A service animal shall be under the control of its handler at all times. A service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the service animal's safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the handler's control (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means), or under the control of a handler other than the student.

School Preparation for Service Animals

Upon approval, the Principal or designee shall arrange to:

 A.familiarize the service animal with the campus prior to the actual start date;

 B.orient the service animal to school faculty and students;

 C.implement a school-wide educational program to educate others on how to behave appropriately around the service animal;

 D.establish a place for the service animal to urinate/defecate (individual plan);

 E.establish an evacuation plan to include the service animal and practice this plan;

 F.establish a resting place for the animal;

 G.establish a rest time for the animal (during P.E., lunch and recess if possible since these are especially difficult times for a service animal to successfully endure); and

 H.identify an alternate accommodation in the event the primary handler (if not the student) or the animal is not able to accompany the student, and provide the parents with this policy and any other written procedures for including service animals in the school.

Administrative Procedures

The Superintendent is authorized to develop District and school site procedures to implement this policy.

28 C.F.R. 35.104, 28 C.F.R. 35.136
F.S. 381.0056, 413.08, 1001.41, 1006.22
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504)
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Adopted 6/18/14

© Neola 2013