Boy denied having service dog at school

Letter from Broward County Public Schools district says service animal needs liability insurance

SUNRISE, Fla. – A woman said Friday that the Broward County Public Schools district won't allow her 5-year-old son to bring his service dog with him when he begins kindergarten at Nob Hill Elementary in Sunrise on Monday.

"He don't want to go to the school [without the dog]," said Monica Alboniga, whose son Anthony suffers from cerebral palsy.

Alboniga showed Local 10 a letter from the Broward County School Board that said they needed liability insurance for Anthony's service dog, Stevie. The doctor-recommended canine alerts people to the boy's frequent seizures.

"He need the dog. He need the dog with the school with him," she said.

Matt Dietz, a leading attorney on the Americans with Disabilities Act, said the school board is breaking the law.

"There's no reason why his service animal shouldn't be allowed to be in school with him, just like any other place, whether it's a courthouse, whether it's a shopping mall, whether it's a playground," he said. "They should be welcoming this as a way to increase [the] knowledge and understanding of kids that have disabilities."

Dietz said the family could make a legal challenge. Alboniga said her son will go to school Monday with or without his dog.

According to a spokeswoman for Broward County Public Schools district, insurance isn't required for a service animal to be approved. However, the service animal must:

  • Be properly vaccinated;
  • Be under the control of a handler who is not a school board employee.  If the handler is not the student, the handler must meet the requirements of the Jessica Lunsford Act (Level II Background Screening);
  • Be trained to perform a specific service for the student which cannot be accommodated in the education setting.