Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dog Accompanies Student With Autism to Class; Battle Looms

CHICAGO — Kaleb Drew went to first grade on Tuesday tethered to his Labrador retriever, over the school's objections, but his family is optimistic they'll win a court battle to keep the dog in class.
Chewey the Lab, trained to help the autistic boy deal with his disabilities, did "just as he's supposed to" in keeping Kaleb safe and calm during his first full day back at school, said the boy's mom, Nichelle Drew.
A Douglas County judge allowed the dog to accompany Kaleb until the family's lawsuit against Villa Grove Elementary School in east-central Illinois goes to trial in November.
Kaleb's case and a separate lawsuit involving an autistic boy near St. Louis are the first challenges to an Illinois law allowing service animals in schools, according to an attorney for the Villa Grove school and a spokeswoman for the Illinois Board of Education.

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