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Service dog goes to school
News, People, Schools
Service dog goes to school

A mother is fighting to have her daughter’s service dog come to school. The district says that’s okay, but the mother says school won’t pay for the handler that is needed for the dog. 

According to Heather Pereira, the school says Hannah, the service dog, is not medically required for Devyn. But Pereira says she had had three different doctors write the district letters explaining that it is. Pereira says she is paying the cost of the handler now, so her daughter can go to school, but will not give up the fight. 

Devyn and her service dog, Hannah, anxiously waited for the school bus to kindergarten Wednesday morning. This is a moment her mom, heather, thought might not happen. Devyn has Angelman’s syndrome, a combination of autism and epilepsy. 

The dog can alert someone if Devyn is about to have a seizure and just by licking her face, can interrupt the seizure and help Devyn to start breathing again. Devyn can’t speak so a handler is required to give commands to the dog. Pereira says the school district said the dog can come to school, but Pereira has to pay for the handler. 

Pereira said, “So what they are saying right now is Devyn doesn't qualify for a service dog, which is a medical decision.” 

Pereira says three different doctors have told the district Hannah is medically required for Devyn.

Pereira said, “My back is up against the wall because I have to pay for the handler because I don’t want her to go to school without the dog.” 

The cost for the handler ends up being $350 a week. Plus Pereira is losing out on the help she has at home. She is using an aide who usually comes to the house and is trained on Hannah’s commands. 

Pereira said, “I'm using the hours that she would be helping me at night because Devyn doesn't sleep and I’m using them during the day when she is suppose to be being cared for by school.”

Pereira says she won’t stop fighting. 

Pereira said, “Devyn has so many challenges on a daily basis and I would expect them to be the people to help me and instead they are the biggest obstacle so far. And it's hard to picture us teaming up with them now, I think they've been very underhanded and she deserves better and I am going to keep fighting till she gets what she needs.” 

News10NBC put calls into the district and they were not returned. Pereira says Hannah was put to work the first day of school already. She says Devyn had an allergic reaction and Hannah was there to help calm her until she could get medicine. 

Pereira is going to have the doctors give even more detailed letters to the district explaining why Hannah is medically needed and she says if that doesn’t work, she will go to court.

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