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Advancing the Human & Civil Rights of People with Disabilities in Illinois



Kaleb sits at a desk in the library with his dog, Chewie, at his feet.When Kaleb was six years old, his mom asked Kaleb’s school to allow Chewey, a service animal, to join Kaleb in school. Without exploring what Chewey did for Kaleb, who has autism, the school refused. The Illinois School Code provides that service animals be allowed to accompany children with disabilities in public schools. A service animal is trained to perform specific tasks for a person with a disability.

So Kaleb and Equip for Equality challenged the school district’s decision by filing suit in state court. The case proceeded to trial where the District attempted to demonstrate that Chewey was not helping Kaleb educationally and thus was not a “service animal.”

The District lost. The Court held that Chewey was trained to help Kaleb and did conduct specific tasks to benefit him, and that was all the law required. Undaunted, the District appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court. EFE attorneys filed briefs and argued before the Court, defending Kaleb’s right to have Chewey at school.

The Court ruled in Kaleb’s favor and issued an opinion upholding the right of all children with disabilities in Illinois to bring a service animal to school.

Last updated: November 14, 2017

This website is made possible by funding support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, both the Administration on Developmental Disabilities and the Center for Mental Health Services of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; and the U.S. Department of Education, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. The contents of this website are solely the responsibility of Equip for Equality and do not necessarily represent the official view of any of these agencies.

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