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Judge Rules that boy with autism has the right to bring his service dog to school

June 13, 2011

On Monday, June 13, a federal judge agreed that Cypress School District is violating the civil rights of a seven-year-old boy with autism by preventing him from taking his service animal to school, an accommodation he is entitled to under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The Honorable Andrew J. Guilford of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California granted a motion for preliminary injunction filed by the Disability Rights Legal Center and co-counsel Winston & Strawn LLP. The child has been attending school without his service dog since the last two weeks of the 2009-20010 school year because of Cypress’ district policy.

The Judge concluded that Eddy qualifies as a service dog under the Americans With Disabilities Act because of his extensive training and because he does much more than “comfort” the child. “Most importantly, Eddy prevents Plaintiff from the potentially harmful act of elopement. (Shore Decl. ¶ 17.) Eddy also helps prevent Plaintiff from shrieking and throwing tantrums. (Id. ¶ 37.) These tasks certainly qualify as ‘preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors,’ as listed in 28 C.F.R. § 35.104,” Judge Guilford wrote. Read the Order Granting Motion for Preliminary Injunction

The media has been covering this precedent-setting case. Los Angeles Times wrote the article "Judge rules in favor of letting autistic boy take service dog to school"  NBC Los Angeles interviewed the family and Maronel Barajas, Senior Staff Attorney for the DRLC’s Education Advocacy Program, for a news feature “Family of Autistic Boy Rejoices After Judge Rules Service Dog Must be Allowed in School.” KABC-TV, also interviewed the family and attorneys for DRLC co-counsel Winston & Strawn LLP, for its news feature, “Cypress Family Fights for Autism Service Dogs.”

The school district’s discrimination against the child galvanized the U.S. Department of Justice. On Friday, June 10 the Department filed a Statement of Interest of the United States in favor of the Court issuing a preliminary injunction. "Day in and day out since June 2010, C.C. … has been and continues to be irreparably harmed by the Cypress School District’s … denial of his civil right to use his service dog in school, a right protected by Title II of the Americans with Disability Act of 1990…" the Department writes in its statement. Download the Department's full Statement

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