By: Diane Benjamin
I’m purposely going to be somewhat vague because I want to give people one more chance to do the right thing.
Here’s the story – I’ve been involved for weeks.
The Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) needs substitute teachers. That facility is run by the County.
A local disabled veteran applied for a job. He has been certified by the State of Illinois. The Regional Office of Education wanted him at the facility. He was medically discharged from the Army after 3 tours in Iraq and 2 in Afghanistan.
Since he has a service dog, he was first told the dog was a security risk and the JDC has a “no dog” policy. Later, after more discussions (high level at the County), he was told they needed time to examine their policy.
That was and remains the wrong answer! Under ADA a service dog is classified as a medical device, just like a wheelchair.
County Code: https://www.ecode360.com/13418415
Below is an email the vet wrote to the organization who trained and gave him Paul the dog:
He received a response that he needed to file a complaint with the State Veterans Affairs office. He did. He also filed a complaint with EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). Both complaints could be withdrawn if the situation changes.
Last week I thought the County had come to their senses. I talked to numerous people including a County Board member who left me with the impression the vet was never denied the job, they just needed to investigate since this “problem” had never happened before. I was told the County concluded the service dog was covered by ADA and he could not be denied a job.
Then is got weirder. The JDC sent documents labeled “Volunteer” to the Regional Office of Education. The ROE sent them to the vet to fill out. He did and took them to their office as instructed. The ROE said they would contact him for a tour of the facility, the final step before he can be called to teach. Why the documents were labeled “volunteer” is unknown. He applied for a paid position.
Since then he has heard nothing. No contact. He was told there is a severe shortage of teachers at the facility. Evidently not short enough to comply with the law.
If the County wants the complaints he filed withdrawn, somebody needs to wake up. If they don’t, I will start naming names.
McLean County missed an opportunity for some great publicity. It can still make a great story featuring a hero and his dog.
(He won’t appreciate me calling him that!)