- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) - North Platte school board members are considering changing the rules on when a student can take a service animal to school.

District administrators want to align the policy with the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, North Platte associate superintendent Tami Eshleman told the board last week.

“There is a student who may need a service animal, and we want to be prepared,” Eshleman said.

One of the policy changes would add the words “or disease” wherever the word “disability” is used. Eshleman cited as an example people who have service dogs that can warn their owners when their owners’ blood sugar levels are high or low.

Another change proposed would substitute the word “animal” for the word “dog.” Eshleman said most of the service animals are dogs, but she wants flexibility in case another animal is used by a student.

Wording would be generalized and words used to describe specific actions by service animals would be eliminated in the update. Those words include “navigation,” ”alerting,” ”pulling” and “seizure.”

Guard and companion animals still would not be permitted on school grounds, Eshleman said, because they are not covered in the disabilities act.

“That part of the policy addresses a nonmedical issue,” Eshleman said. “A student cannot have an animal on campus to feel better while that student is in school.”

A vote on the proposed changes is scheduled on Feb. 10.

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