CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials voted to allow miniature horses to be used as service animals for students in the classroom.
The policy brought the district in line with the American Disabilities Act.
Board members said the miniature horses would be just like service dogs. They would guide their student everywhere, from the cafeteria to hallways.
“I think that can be a bit distracting," parent Bambi Ahad said.
Even school board members think the distractions caused by a miniature horse would be anything but miniature.
"You try to visualize in your mind, a miniature horse coming into your school building and your classroom, and the uproar that especially little kids would have," chair Mary McCray said.
Judy Kidd, with the Classroom Teachers Association, said it's absurd and had no further comments.
The school board updated their policy to match the Americans with Disabilities Act, which lists miniature horses as service animals.
"I think it's a great idea, and I think children are flexible and would eventually adapt,” teacher Linda Havrun said. “However, I don't think the classrooms, we don't have the room for it."
Miniature horses are being used as service animals because dogs are considered unclean in some religious cultures.
"They're trained to do what they're doing and typically, you know, you would not want people petting them and talking to them," school board member Paul Bailey said.
To minimize distractions, students and teachers would have to go through specialized training before interacting with the horses.
The school board said the jury is still out on how they would handle other issues like when the horses would eat and go outside.
There's no word yet on whether any students have applied to use a miniature horse as a service animal this school year.
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