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About 34,000 Signatures Collected on Petition for Autistic Boy to Have Service Dog in School

The family of Sean Forsyth is advocating for him to bring his service dog, Sophia, with him to Wexford Elementary.

The family of an autistic child has collected about 34,000 signatures on an online petition that urges to allow the 8-year-old boy to bring his service dog to school with him.

"Allow Sean Forsyth to bring his autism service dog to school," states the petition on change.org that people from across the country continue to sign.

Change.org It is "a non-partisan organization that empowers anyone, anywhere to start and win campaigns for social change," according to the organization's website.

at his side 24 hours a day, including when he is in school. The second grader at  has Asperger's Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. 

 trained his service dog, Sophia, to recognize and stop obsessive behaviors, prevent emotional outbursts and detect low medication levels.

In a written statement the school district said, “We have not denied the family request for a service dog. This specific request is being made under the American Disabilities Act. To fall under ADA guidelines, certain criteria must be met. 

"In our letter dated on January 30, 2012, we requested that the family follow up with us on the specific criteria, so we could make a determination on whether the request falls within those guidelines.  Once we receive that information from the family, we can determine whether a service dog is appropriate in this case."

But Jennifer Forsyth, the boy's mother, said the district has all of the information it needs to make a decision. She has spoken out to different media outlets about the situation and created the online petition.

Below is the wording of the petition:

Eight-year-old Sean Forsyth suffers from autism. The Pine-Richland School District has used stalling tactics and other unprofessional behavior with the Forsyth family to discourage them from asking that Sean's service dog, Sophia, be allowed to attend school with him.

The petition will be sent to the superintendent and other officials in the hopes public opinion forced them to follow the law and allow Sophia to attend school with Sean under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Sophia is Sean's best friend and biggest helper. Having her in school with him will help give him the best educational experience possible.

Parent #2 April 04, 2012 at 12:10 PM
34,000 people who DO NOT LIVE IN PINE-RICHLAND. This is a local issue! I hate to see the board and admimistration made to look like they are ignorant on this issue and to see them bullied and threatened with lawsuits. I suppose it is a sign of them times we are in. They are taking the proper steps to address this. I applaud their professionalism and do not applaud the way the parents have handled this.
Ben Cox April 04, 2012 at 02:29 PM
I agree with the above. However I also wish Patch would do a little better job on reporting this. Specifically, the article states that the school district "requested that the family follow up with us on the specific criteria," but that the family says "the district has all the information it needs to make a decision." Sounds like IN HER OPINION they have all they need, but Patch doesn't say whether they actually followed up with the specific info the district recommended. Sounds to me like they didn't, and therefore the onus is on them. But it's hard to draw that conclusion with certainty because Patch didn't actually press the issue (or, at least, didn't say anything about pressing the issue).
Tom April 04, 2012 at 08:57 PM
How does this affect kids with alergies or a fear of dogs?

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