Judge Chris Freese sided with the family of Kaleb Drew, who argued that the boy's yellow Labrador retriever is a service animal allowed in schools under Illinois law. They say the dog is similar to a seeing-eye dog for the blind and is trained to help Kaleb deal with his disabilities, keeping him safe and calm in class.
The Villa Grove schooldistrict had opposed the dog's presence and argued that it isn't a true service animal.
The judge ruled that the Drews had presented "clear and convincing evidence" to show Chewey is a service animal that helps the boy function, said attorney Margie Wakelin, who works with Chicago-based Equip for Equality and represented the family.
"I'm very pleased and happy that Kaleb and Chewey are going to get to continue their work together and continue to grow as a team and learn from each other," Nichelle Drew, Kaleb's mother, said after the ruling.
She says the dog keeps Kaleb from running in front of cars in the school parking lot, and helps him with difficulties transitioning from one activity to another by helping him feel calm.
Good for Kaleb and his family. I hope the school recognizes the importance of helping Kaleb grow to reach his full potential.