Saturday, September 30, 2023
Courthouse News Service
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School Should Allow Service Dogs, Child Says

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CN) - An 8-year-old boy with Type I diabetes claims he suffered two major epileptic seizures after the Yonkers school system barred him from bringing his service dog to school.

In a complaint filed in Westchester County Court, fourth-grader Anthony Spataro says he can't detect the changes in his blood-sugar levels that produce "life-threatening" complications. He says his blood-sugar levels fluctuate wildly throughout the day, causing epileptic seizure at low levels and vision loss or organ damage at high levels.

After a major seizure left Spataro hospitalized for a week in 2007, he adopted Jana, a diabetic alert service dog from Missouri who was trained to lick Spataro's hand if she detected otherwise-imperceptible changes in her owner's blood-sugar levels.

But Spataro claims that Yonkers school officials refused allow his dog on the property. Because Jana was unable to work, the service dog agency allegedly took her back and retrained her for another disabled owner.

Spataro returned Jana and then says he suffered two more major epileptic seizures that caused him to temporarily lose sight and leg sensation. After training a new service dog from Kentucky in August 2009, Spataro tried to start fourth grade in September, but Yonkers officials again refused to allow dogs on school property, the complaint states.

Spataro's mother, Samantha Spataro, did not let her son start school without the help of his new dog, Dash.

Through his mother, Spataro has sued Yonkers Public Schools, the Yonkers Board of Education and Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio for discrimination and an injunction to allow service dogs for the disabled in school.

He is represented by Marna Solarsh in Scarsdale, N.Y.

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