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Ohio teacher’s allergy, girl’s dog at odds

ATHENS, Ohio — The mother of an autistic first-grader in Ohio who uses a service dog is challenging a decision that the girl must change schools because her special-education teacher is allergic to dog dander.

Charla Gretz said a school official told her that her daughter, 6-year-old Shyanna, and her black Labrador retriever, Spring, could not attend Morrison-Gordon Elementary School in southeast Ohio, The Columbus Dispatch reported. The official told her that the special-education teacher at the school is extremely allergic to dog dander and Shyanna must transfer, according to Gretz.

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Shyanna gets overwhelmed by sensory issues and does not cope well with change, Gretz said. Her dog is trained to calm her and to walk on an attached tether so the girl cannot wander. Gretz said changing schools would disturb her daughter. She also said the bus ride to a different school would be about double the ride to Morrison-Gordon.

But accommodations made for Shyanna and her dog must be balanced against the allergic teacher’s rights, said Carl Martin, superintendent of the Athens City School District. Moving Shyanna to a different school is a reasonable solution, he said.

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