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Family receives apology after service dog denied entry into Prince William County Schools event

The family says they were told the dog couldn't go inside The Kelly Leadership Center unless they had a "certified ID".

MANASSAS, Va. — A Manassas family says they were told they couldn't bring their daughter's service dog into a school event over the weekend, because the dog didn't have a "certified ID."

Kaitlyn Svrlinga is an eighth grader at Benton Middle School.

"I happen to have autism spectrum disorder. Apollo helps me deal with that and regulate my emotions," she told WUSA9.

She brings Apollo everywhere. On Saturday, she and her family, along with Apollo tried to attend the All County Arts Festival at the Prince William County Public School Kelly Leadership Center.

She had artwork on display, and says she and her family were excited to check it out.

"We walked in and the person at the front door said do you have a certified ID. I said there's no such thing," said her father Stan Svrlinga, 

Instead, he says security wouldn't let them in, with Apollo.

"I can't go anywhere without him so that was basically blocking me from going," said Kaitlyn.

Eventually, after several calls, they were allowed in. But, her Dad says this sign was also posted up in the window.

"The sign told me this wasn't just a mistake being made by a guard at the front door, more so that it was policy," said Svrlinga.

According to The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), A public accommodation or facility is not allowed to ask for documentation or proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal. Local laws that prohibit specific breeds of dogs do not apply to service animals.

Since then, the family says they've received several apologies from Prince William County Schools.

Prince William County Schools shared the following statement with WUSA9:

We learned about this situation prior to the School Board meeting and offered an apology to this parent and his daughter. PWCS sincerely regrets making this error, and we have committed to improving training protocols.

We have sent out a reminder of the regulation to our security staff, and will ensure training is included in annual school security officer training. All policies and regulations are available for review by all employees through our website, and notifications are sent when substantial updates are made to policies and regulations.

The Syrlinga's say they accept the apology, but are sharing what happened to bring awareness to others who may not know the regulations when it comes to service animals.

"I want people in the community to understand that you can come to a school event, especially if you have a service dog and enjoy the event and not have to worry about getting the 9th degree," said Syrlinga.

As for Kaitlyn, she has big dreams and goals. She told WUSA9 she plans to become an engineer and inspire others.

"Don't let tell you can't achieve something just because of the way you were born," said Kaitlyn.

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