A 12-year-old girl named Ehlena Fry went to the Supreme Court with her Goldendoodle, Wonder, to try to convince justices that her family should be able to sue a Michigan school district for emotional damages after they refused access to the semi-retired service dog. Fry has cerebral palsy, which affects her motor skills, but not her cognition. She relies on Wonder, a dog that was prescribed to her by a doctor at age 5, to help her pick things up, use a walker, open and close doors, turn on lights, and help her to the bathroom.
The district allowed Fry to use the dog in school on a trial basis, but later refused to allow him because one student was afraid of dogs and some were allergic. Fry’s parents home schooled her for two years because of that decision. The school did provide an aide to Fry, but this affected her independence–for example, making it so that Fry had to use the bathroom with the door open and adults watching. So while the school did meet the requirements of providing adequate assistance for Fry’s education, her family alleges that the damages were emotional.
It gets a little complicated because it has to be made clear under which disability act that the family should be allowed to sue, and some justices argue that it could set a dangerous precedent. Even though a school provides assistance that makes sure a child’s education isn’t negatively affected by a disability, they should be able to protect students’ independence and dignity.
Do you think the Fry family should be allowed to sue for emotional damages? Let us know in the comments below!