Judge Rules Against Boy and His Service Dog Simba
Thanks to Newsday.com for this update on Simba and the East Meadow School District. Here is a link to the original blog post on this subject.
Judge: Dog Simba must stay out of school
BY CARL MACGOWAN AND JOHN VALENTI
A federal judge ruled Tuesday afternoon that as long as John Cave Jr. is a student at an East Meadow high school, his service dog, Simba, will have to remain home for now.
Saying that the 14-year-old boy and his family had "failed to exhaust" all their appeals with the East Meadow School District, U.S. District Court Judge Arthur D. Spatt said Simba is not allowed to accompany his owner to classes at W. Tresper Clarke High School because the dog could be "disruptive and counterproductive" to the educational process.
The ruling was announced by Spatt shortly after 1 p.m. in U.S. District Court, Eastern District in Central Islip.
Spatt ruled against the Caves, he said, in part because the family did not follow the appeals process in place in the school district -- instead opting to sue the district for $150 million.
John Cave Jr. is deaf and said he needs Simba to attend classes with him at Clarke, where he is a ninth-grader, because not having the dog present is destroying his training regime with Simba.
His attorney, Paul Margiotta, had argued the dog should be allowed in school and that the right to do so is guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The canine controversy has attracted national attention since Jan. 3, when Clarke principal Timothy Voels called police after Cave attempted to bring Simba to school.
District officials argued Cave did not need the dog and expressed concern for the health and safety of other students and staff. Parents of schoolmates said they feared their children would suffer allergic reactions with the dog in class and Voels even testified in court earlier this month that allowing Simba in school was akin to playing "Russian Roulette" with the health and welfare of students and faculty.
But in his decision Tuesday, Spatt said that though two school district committees that govern the education of disabled students in the district had ruled against Cave bringing Simba to school, Cave's parent, John and Nancy, never appealed either of those decisions to the district. Instead, they opted to file the multimillion suit and sought a preliminary injunction that would force the district to allow Simba to attend school. Cave's parents argued that Simba was losing his effectiveness as a service dog because he is away from their son for at least six hours a day.
"I've had it," Nancy Cave, seated in the gallery, said quietly, as Spatt announced his decision. Her son, who uses cochlear implants in his ears to hear, had no reaction to the ruling.