Originally published: September 7, 2017
In a recent decision, J.F. v. Waterloo Catholic District School Board, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (Tribunal) denied an application of discrimination based on a decision by the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (Board) denying the applicant’s request to attend school with a service dog.
The applicant, a student in grade three diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), sought to attend school with an Autism Service Dog. The applicant argued that, pursuant to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), the Board was obligated to allow him to attend school with his service dog. The Tribunal, however, found that schools are not public spaces, pursuant to the Education Act (Act) and its regulations, and that the AODA therefore did not apply to give the applicant an unfettered right to attend school with his service dog.
The Tribunal then proceeded to consider the Board’s procedural and substantive duties to accommodate the student’s disability-related educational needs to enable him to profit from Ontario’s publicly funded education system.