Service Animals Now Allowed on School Buses

Previous law only allowed service animals on school grounds.

Cali alerts her trainer, Butler, if a child is showing signs of anxiety.

Cali is a trained cortisol detection dog at the Callais School in Whippany. She sniffs out anxiety for students on the autism spectrum. Photo by Joe Polillio

Service animals can now accompany their human friends on the school bus after Governor Chris Christie signed a bill marking the amendment to state law.

On Monday, Christie signed Assembly Bill No. 3690. Previously Jersey law only allowed service animals to accompany students with disabilities in school buildings and on school grounds.

The bill was originally referred to the Assembly Human Services Committee in September 2014. It unanimously passed the Assembly and Senate before landing on the governor’s desk.

According to a statement released by the New Jersey Assembly Democrats on Monday, this change ensures New Jersey aligns with federal law.

Democrat Pamela Lampitt (Camden/Burlington) says this was a much-needed change to support the independence of students living with disabilities.

“When students have to be without their service animals that facilitate their everyday activity they compromise their sense of independence,” she says. “This law acknowledges that just as we would never ask a student to leave behind a pair of eyeglasses or an EpiPen that he or she needs, we should never expect a child who needs a service animal to go without it.”

According to the bill, a school official may inquire whether the service animal is required due to a disability and what task or work the service animal has been trained to perform, unless the student’s disability and the work or task that the service animal will perform are readily apparent.

Animals must also have up-to-date vaccinations and a proper license registered with the municipality.

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