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Family Battles School District Over First Grader’s Service Dog

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A 7-year old Massachusetts boy has been unable to attend the first grade since his school district has refused to make accommodations for the boy’s service dog.

Austin has a brain malformation that causes him to have seizures. His service dog, a Golden Retriever named Paris, is trained to alert others to Austin’s seizures before they occur by detecting subtle chemical changes in the boy’s body. In addition, Paris serves as a comfort animal, trained to calm Austin, whose condition also affects his speech, causing him to often become frustrated when he speaks.

Because seizures can happen at any time, Paris needs to be by Austin’s side 24-hours a day, even while he’s in school.

However, because Austin is only 7-years old, he cannot physically be responsible for Paris and needs help from an adult with walking the dog, taking her outside, picking up after her, as well as keeping an eye on her throughout the day.

“For whatever reason, the school district will not allow any school staff to be the dog handler,” Austin’s mother, Ericha Flateau told Fox & Friends.

Austin’s family cannot afford to hire a dedicated dog handler to stay with Austin and Paris during school each day, and Ericha says she can’t afford not to go to work herself.

Flateau is hoping that staff from the Davis Thayer Elementary School in Franklin, Massachusetts can work with her to make suitable arrangements. She isn’t expecting the school to place a dedicated dog handler with her son, but just wants staff already in place to help Austin with Paris when and if needed.

The Franklin School District told Fox & Friends in a statement that it “fully provides and promotes access for all individuals with disabilities, including those that require that assistance of service animals.”

Flateau says that if arrangements cannot be made to accommodate her son, they’ll be forced to move to another school district that will help.

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  1. Avatar Of Mary Young

    Mary Young


    I can believe it. Right before my daughter started school, she was sexually molested by a 15-year old neighbor kid who I used to babysit for. When he was released from a home for Juvenile Sex Offenders, I was the one who had to make accommodations for my daughter, as the school refused to move the bus stop which was right next to his house, refused to take him off of the school bus and refused to provide my daughter someone who could keep her safe at school, as they shared the same building. I had to take my daughter to and from school and accompany her in the school building.

    This kid continued to make our lives hell until my daughter graduated in June, 2013 at which time he moved out of his family’s home. He loved calling us with death threats and thought stalking was fun — even after landing in jail because of it)

    Schools are the first to turn parents in for neglect/abuse, but they have no problem neglecting or abusing our children; and outside of getting an attorney and fighting the school for this child’s rights, the school will get their way, even if their actions are illegal. A child’s rights — especially in this case — should be first at all times, regardless of how much it inconveniences the school!

  2. Avatar Of Chris D

    Chris D


    Lets teach the boy to tend to the dog! It can be done and its liberating

  3. Avatar Of Toni



    It is illegal for the school to NOT make accommodations.
    The family needs a lawyer and contact http://www.ncld.org/…disabilities/iep for help.

    • Avatar Of Sb



      I agree, Toni. If the accommodations include someone to help this child with his dog, then those legally have to be provided. I encourage everyone to email Davis Thayer Elementary School’s principal, Evemarie McNeille, in Franklin, Massachusetts at: [email protected] or call them directly at (508) 541-5263.

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