TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Bob Gordon and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz that would permit service animals on school buses for students with disabilities was signed into law today.
The law, S-2601, builds on existing legislation that allows a student with a disability to have a service animal in school buildings and on school grounds. This law would permit a student with a disability to bring a service animal on a school bus.
“Service animals are important companions that are integral to the lives of students with disabilities,” Said Senator Gordon, D-Bergen and Passaic. “By permitting service animals on school buses, the law will allow easier access to these service companions, benefiting students both inside and outside the classroom.”
“Whether on the bus or in the classroom, service animals are a fundamental support for children with disabilities. With this update to our laws, we will provide a safer trip to and from school for students while helping to ensure the best productive learning environment for children,” said Senator Ruiz, D-Essex.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal is a trained dog or other animal that assist individuals with physical and mental impairments. This can include visual, hearing, and mobility disabilities as well as mental illnesses such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Several other states including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, and Connecticut have similar laws regarding rights for persons with disabilities to have guide dogs and/or service animals in any mode of transportation and public space including schools, according to the Animal Legal and Historical Center.
The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 36-0. The Assembly approved it 73-0 in November. The law takes effect immediately.