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Houston County teacher claims she has a service dog, school leaders disagree

Doctor notes state “Emotional Care Animal,” not a service animal.
Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 10:12 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - The Houston County Board of Education had several items on their agenda Monday night, the biggest topic being an AG teacher and the dog she has been bringing to school.

Daphine Hamm claims it’s a service dog, school leaders disagree.

On Monday night Hamm spoke in front of the board and a crowd at the meeting regarding an emotional support animal she claims is a service dog she brings on campus.

“Any time that we have an employee that has a disability, if they will let us know the details of that disability, we’ll do everything we can to make accommodations for the employee,” Brandy White, Houston County Superintendent, said.

White said he has gave Hamm four opportunities to show that documentation so they could provide the proper accommodations. Doctor notes were provided by Hamm, however, the documents stated “Emotional Care Animal,” not a service animal.

“It’s illegal in the state of Alabama to misrepresent a service dog and so we wanted to know if it was a service dog or an emotional support animal,” White said.

White said there have been numerous incidents by Hamm with numerous animals.

“If an employee provides us with the correct documentation we would allow a service animal at this time, we did not disregard the possibility of a service animal, we just need the documentation of the disability to determine if a service dog is needed,” White said.

The ADA states a service dog is a dog that does two or more specific jobs related to the disability, that does not include anxiety.

The board voted for a ten day suspension for Hamm, without pay.

“But that was not for bringing a service animal or an emotional care animal, it was for the other things mentioned in the board meeting,” White said.

That includes other allegations of insubordinates, including allegations she allowed students ride in the back of her pickup truck on a state highway.

Several gathered at the board meeting Monday night to show their support for Hamm.

“But actually I’m, I’m really disappointed,” Hamm said.

And Hamm had no further comment.

White tells News 4 that Hamm was given the opportunity to have this meeting during an executive session to protect her privacy.

She chose to have this in an open board meeting.

This was not a hearing, so there was no public comment.

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