District 51 may curb animals on campus

A new policy for animals on School District 51 grounds went through first reading during Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

The policy, which likely will be adopted during the board’s next meeting on Dec. 14, seeks to regulate why and for how long animals can be on school premises. District 51 Environmental Health Safety Coordinator Charles Pope said the policy would not outlaw service animals or dead or live animals brought in for educational purposes, such as dissection or demonstration.

The policy would keep animals out of school that are not there to help people or serve a purpose in a lesson, something schools have had issues with in the past. Pope said one school had a custodian who would bring a snake in when he was cleaning, and one student brought a snake into a cafeteria following show and tell.

It’s OK if the animal is “there for a particular segment, after which they’ll be taken out of the building,” Pope said.

District 51 Superintendent Steve Schultz said lessons involving animals can have instructional value, but having a policy “makes clear the parameters of if they’re going to be there.”

The proposed policy says teachers have to ask permission from their principals to bring an animal into the classroom, as well as notify parents or guardians and faculty and staff in writing that there will be an animal in the school.

The policy also holds pet owners liable for anything that happens to the animal, outlines nutritional standards for pets staying overnight in the classroom, bans all nonservice animals from school buses, and bans students from bringing in poisonous or wild animals, unless an exception is made.


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