International Association of
Assistance Dog Partners
International Association of Assistance Dog Partners
President: Ed Eames, Ph.D.
3376 N. Wishon, Fresno, CA 93704-4832
Phone: (559) 224-0544 Fax: (559) 224-5851 E-mail: email@example.com
Board of Directors:
Dino Brownson, Toni Eames, Tanya Eversole, Jill Exposito, Joan Froling,
Carol King, Wendy Morrell, Devon Wilkins
March 24, 2007
Honorable Edward R. Korman, Chief Judge
U.S. District Court
Eastern District of New York
225 Cadman Plaza East
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Dear Judge Korman,
As President of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, a consumer advocacy organization composed of people with disabilities working with guide, hearing and service dogs, I request the removal of Judge Spatt from the case brought against the East Meadow Union Free School District by the Cave family. Judge Spatt's ruling on the injunction sought by attorney Paul Margiotta on behalf of his clients clearly indicates a bias against disabled people partnered with assistance dogs.
Despite the clear mandate under Title Three of the Americans with Disabilities Act stating that educational facilities are public accommodations, Judge Spatt has ruled that classrooms are not places of public accommodations. This interpretation undermines the basic civil right guaranteed by the ADA that those of us working with guide, hearing and service dogs can be accompanied by our canine assistants into medical facilities, amusement parks, restaurants, hotels and schools. If this ruling is allowed to stand, then disabled parents, as well as social workers, teachers, nurses and other disabled school staff members partnered with assistance dogs could also be denied access to the classroom.
In addition to setting aside the ADA in favor of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Judge Spatt has also declared the New York State civil rights law explicitly guaranteeing the right of students, teachers and others to be accompanied by assistance dogs in classrooms to be irrelevant in this case. Once again, his bias against using the broadest and most comprehensive civil rights guarantees is manifest.
Judge Spatt emphasizes that the school district has provided a number of accommodations for John Cave Jr. enabling him to participate in the educational process. These include a sign interpreter, a resource room teacher, extra time for test taking and captioning of audiovisual materials. These are mandated by IDEA and do not demonstrate in any way the school district's willingness to provide special accommodations. By ignoring the Caves' claim that the presence OF hearing dog Simba is not an accommodation to be sought through the Individual Education Plan under IDEA, but rather a guaranteed right Judge Spatt is undermining the ADA and John Cave Junior's right to choose a hearing dog as a means of enhancing his independence and safety.
As an organization of people with disabilities, IAADP sees Judge Spatt's decision as a step back in time. Congress' desire to eliminate discrimination, both overt or covert, against people with disabilities was demonstrated by passing the ADA in 1990. Judge Spatt's disregard for this law demonstrates a bias against the more than 20,000 Americans with disabilities who have sought to further their independence, safety, mobility and improve their quality of life through partnership with canine assistants. To provide full justice for the Cave family, it is essential that Judge Spatt be removed from the case and a more unbiased judge appointed to hear it.
Ed Eames, Ph.D., President