Former employee says, despite following rules, district wouldn’t allow facility dog at KCK school

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- A former instructional coach with KCK Public Schools insists the district failed to follow its own policy when it comes to animal at schools.

In August, the principal at Lindbergh Elementary School signed off for Dana Spoor to have her facility dog, Oakley, on campus. The district’s policy allows animals at school for instructional purposes if they’re approved by the school’s principal.

“There were a lot of people who were behind it,” Spoor said.

Spoor said she got 100% of the parents at the school on-board. They got to meet Oakley, and she made sure every classroom understood how to interact with the dog.

“She is so well trained that the counselor had taken her, the social worker, a couple of teachers. She could go with anybody,” she said.

The facility dog, which has the same training as a guide or service dog, was used to offer support and deescalate situations.

However, nearly three weeks in, Spoor got a notice from a school board administrator telling her Oakley couldn’t be at the school due to liability reasons.

“I have insurance through my homeowner’s policy, but they were worried about the district side of it,” she said.

A spokesperson for the district sent the following statement when FOX4 reached out initially inquiring about the situation:

“While we understand some of the laws that govern the use of service animals and therapy animals, there are some differences between their purpose and roles they play in the lives of those who need them.

In this case, Dr. Dana Spoor did not receive approval from the principal prior to bringing the dog to the classroom and incorporating it into the classroom setting. Based on district Board Policy, animals are allowed to be brought to school for instructional purposes if approved by the principal.

There are policies and procedures that we expect staff to follow as it relates to our school setting.

While we appreciate the support and academic value that some may believe the animals may bring to the classroom, the decision of bringing a dog in the school needs to be fully vetted and approved by the Principal or the school district’s leadership. And this was not done."

“From what I understand, the cabinet of the district knew about the dog,” Spoor said when she read the statement.

She was confused because she said she did get the approval of the school's principal.

When FOX4 provided the district a copy of the signed notice, we received the following statement:

“Until today, Kansas City, Kansas School District officials, including the school board, were not aware of any notices signed by one of our principals that condoned the adoption of a facility dog.

While we understand the laws that govern the use of service animals and therapy animals, there are some differences between their purpose and the roles they play in the lives of those that use them.

For example, facility dogs are normally dogs that visit with students in class, sick patients and etc. In this case, Dr. Dana Spoor is not an actual teacher of students in the KCK school district, but instead an instructional coach. Her main duties involve working very closely with our teachers, a very important role, but means the facility dog will not be serving the purpose many are intended for and that is to be with the children.

With that said, we appreciate Dr. Spoor's passion, but we as a district have come to the conclusion that the facility dog is not a good fit.”

“I think it’s unfortunate their response because I am in the classroom all day long,” Spoor replied.

She said if KCKPS wants to better support its students emotionally, administrators should consider all possibilities, including allowing facility dogs at school.

“In our environment today, all the struggles kids are facing, we should be doing anything we can to help our students,” she added.

Spoor has since left the district, and Oakley is now a facility dog at an elementary school in Olathe.

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