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School Refuses to Admit Service Dog, Causing Boy to Miss First Grade

The Short of It

Austin Flateau's service dog has been forbidden from entering the school that he attends. The 7-year-old Massachusetts boy has two brain malformations that can affect his speech and cause seizures, so it's essential that his service dog, Paris, be with him 24 hours a day to alert for seizures. Unfortunately, Austin's school district refuses to accommodate the child's needs, so he can't attend the first grade.

The Lowdown

Austin's mother, Ericha Flateau, says that the Franklin Public School District will not allow Austin's one-on-one aide to be the dog's handler. His mother cannot afford to hire a third-party dog handler nor do it herself because she works, so currently Austin is at home with Paris.

The boy's mother says that the dog's No. 1 job is seizure alert, which she is trained to recognize by smelling chemical changes in Austin. Paris is also trained in behavior disruption, which means she can help Austin calm down when he tries to speak and becomes frustrated because his condition also affects his speech.

Ericha Flateau says that she might have to consider relocating if an agreement with the school district regarding the use of the service dog isn't possible.

The Upshot

The school released a statement, saying, "The Franklin Public School District does not comment on specific student service issues ... the district can state that it fully promotes and supports access for all individuals with disabilities, including those that require the assistance of service animals."

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