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Rush-Henrietta School District Denies Service Dog

An 11-year old with Type 1 diabetes is denied access to school with her service dog.
11 year old Madyson Siragusa is ecstatic to have her new best friend Duke.
"He just like paws at me on my leg or arm and sometimes licks me in my face," said Madison Siragusa.
That's not affection though - that's duke doing his job when her blood sugar dips or spikes.
She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes almost a year ago.
"We just teach the dog to alert on the child during one of those events," said Lily Grace, CEO of the National Institute for Diabetic Alert Dogs.
Lily Grace says she is a former registered nurse who now owns the National Institute for Diabetic Alert Dogs .
Lily trained Duke to recognize Madyson's scent.
In just 24 hours, Madyson's parents have already noticed a change.
" Ever since Duke has been home so far, he has alerted on Madyson quite a bit, where we would never have known or she would have never known to check herself," said Anthony Siragusa.
So when they asked the Rush-Henrietta School District to allow Duke at Roth Middle School, they thought it would be okay.
"Up until a week ago that's when we received a letter stating the school district was denying for Duke to enter into Roth Middle School," said Siragusa.
They tried in person today.
"The Rush-Henrietta School District was advised to make a decision about service dogs on a case by case basis however the school district says the possible distractions, anxiety, or allergies of other students does not justify allowing Duke to come to school with Madyson."
Lily says a school has never denied one of her dogs - until now.
"I am hopeful, we are always out here to educate. I educate first, litigate last but if it goes to that we are willing to go that direction," said
The district says it is well prepared to help Madyson monitor her blood sugar but without the dog.
Madyson is hoping it will change its mind about Duke.
For now, she will get tutoring at home.

The following is a portion of the statement released by the Rush-Henrietta School District:

"The New York State Association of School Attorneys also tells districts to “consider the effects that the service animals will have on others, as well as the effects on the school environment as a whole.”
We know some students who are fond of animals will find the dog to be an attractive distraction. For others, the dog may trigger anxiety, distress, or allergies. The district has determined that the family’s
wish to have a dog accompany their student does not justify the inevitable disruption to the school environment."

"We are confident our student will continue to receive a free appropriate public education without the aid of a dog, and we know she will be well cared for by our staff. Our schools are staffed by a school nurse and supported by a
district nurse practitioner. They use long-established, well-tested protocols – including the prudent monitoring of blood glucose levels – to safeguard the health and well being of students. The presence of a service animal trained
to monitor these levels is redundant."

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