(CN) – School officials in Illinois were wrong to block an autistic boy from bringing his service dog, Chewey, to school, a state appeals court ruled.
Nichelle and Bradley D. sued the Villa Grove Board of Education and its superintendent, Steven Poznic, for allegedly refusing to let K.D. use a Labrador retriever named Chewey, who was specially trained to help him.
One of Chewey’s main functions is to stand his ground if K.D. runs away, preventing the boy from running away from his parents or from leaving the house in the middle of the night.
The trial court ruled in the family’s favor, but the school board appealed, arguing that the family failed to exhaust its administrative remedies and that the dog was not an official service animal.
Judge James Knecht of the Springfield-based Fourth District Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision, ruling that the parents did not need to go through a due-process hearing before taking the matter to court.
“We conclude Chewey is a service animal individually trained to perform tasks for K.D.’s benefit. On its face, (the School Code) permits Chewey to attend school with K.D. Thus, the trial court did not err in ordering the District to permit Chewey to accompany K.D. to all school functions,” Knecht wrote.