Islets of Hope

Volume 1, Issue 10:  October 2005 Editoral Education Feature:  Three R's

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Islets of News Diabetes Editorial
October 2005

 

 

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Does your state have good education protection laws for children attending public school with diabetes?  Visit our Scholarship page to find out ways to get a higher education for your child.

State Links

California (Cal Ed Code Section 49414.5 (2005))
Connecticut  (Chap 170 Section 10-220j (2004)); Hawaii  (HB 1550 (2005))
Kentucky (HB88 (2005)); Massachusetts;
Montana
North Carolina (N.C. Gen. State Chapter 115C-12(31))
Oregon (Chapter  433.825 (2003))
South Carolina
Tennessee  (TN Code Ann Chapter 49-5-415 (2004))
Texas
Virginia
Washington (Rev. Code Wash. Title 28A.210.330 (2005))
Wisconsin.

  Need More Information? No problem, IOH is here to help...

Information on Your Child's Educational Rights

Download the American Federation of Teachers Declaration

Download Safe at School Principals

Sign the Safe at School Statement of Principals

Share School Success Stories with ADA

More Resource Links

Still need more help? Visit the "Ask A Lawyer" page for more answers to legal questions about your child's right to an education.

NOTE:  The ADA’s Safe at School Campaign does not  deny the importance of a qualified nurse but seeks to pass legislation:

“..."that teachers, school administrators, school secretaries, and other personnel may be trained to provide diabetes care in the absence of a school nurse and so that students who are able to do so can effectively  self-manage their disease."

 

  Read IOH's List of Diabetes-Friendly Schools  

  Parents should know, that last year, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) proposed:

 ..."RESOLVED, that the AFT lobby against the use of non-healthcare personnel trained to administer routine and emergency care to students with diabetes.”

Good Reading...

  Elisa B. Hendel
A Child in Your Care Has Diabetes:  A 60+ page book filled with crucial information about diabetes; designed for teachers, caretakers, baby sitters or any individual seeking simplified information about this complex condition.

The pages inside this book, help to educate, organize and assist individuals in the care of an individual with diabetes. Information is presented in a straightforward manner. Each book should last forever. The charts and lists are left blank – to accommodate changes in treatment or other important information. It can be used by an entire school district, camp or organized group in the management of one child or several children with diabetes. This book is unique. There are presently no other books concerning children with diabetes quite like it.

   Gosselin/Freidman
Taking Diabetes to School:  This color-illustrated book for elementary age children contains an instructive story of a grade-schooler with diabetes who tells his classmates about the disease and how he manages it. The story offers sensitive insight into the day-to-day "school life" of a child with a chronic illness.

 Bo & Spike Loy
487 Real Tips for Kids with Diabetes:  Kids living with diabetes face a world of challenges, and yet, there are few things they can't do. This book is packed full of tips that kids have sent to Spike and Bo (brothers with type 1 diabetes), authors of Getting a Grip on Diabetes for Kids and Teens. Tips cover everything from playing sports to accidents to hormones.

A GREAT IDEA FROM OUR TIPS PAGE

Save your expired Glucagon kits.  You can use them for practice or when training other family members or school staff on how to give life-saving glucagon injections.

 

      IN THE CLASSROOM

The Three R’s:
 
Ridiculous, Restrictive Resolutions

Proposed Changes in Your Child’s Education Plan That Do Not Make The Grade

By Lahle Wolfe

     The first day of school can be a time of excitement and celebration for many proud parents.  For those of us with diabetic children, pride and excitement are tempered by worry and realty.  We scramble to complete health forms and treatment plans, ask a million questions about the care the school will provide, and try to reassure ourselves that we are doing the right thing; the safe thing for our children.  But what would happen if responsibilities on the part of the school are relaxed, and the worry of “will my child be safe today” is no longer just normal parent anxiety, but a very real danger for our children with diabetes?

     Federal law requires public schools to facilitate the needs of diabetic students, but laws vary from state to state as to how that care shall be provided.  Certain states have laws or policies (written and unwritten), that do not permit nonmedically licensed personnel to perform diabetes care related tasks, and may also even prohibit self-care by students.  These policies put our children in jeopardy, and by denying them the right to safety at school, constitutes discrimination.

     After enrolling my daughter Elizabeth in public school for kindergarten last year, I encountered such dangerous “unwritten” policies directly in violation to existing laws; a problem that haunts parents in school districts nationwide.   Parents should not have to sue to get schools to comply with existing laws, but we live in a far-from-perfect world and lawsuits have been filed in many states, including California. 

     What if laws were to change making it even harder for schools and parents to work together?  This is an issue we may now be facing.

Elizabeth's Story

     Let me share with you my own experience to emphasize my concern.   Elizabeth was unable to safely attend kindergarten in our school district because of unwritten policies that discriminated against children with diabetes.  The care of diabetics, as well as other children with medical needs including hemophilia, fell squarely onto the shoulders of parents.

     The plan I was given allowed me to come to the school to test my child, who was then only 5 years old, and administer insulin, but the school refused to do it for her.  They also refused to train her teachers or other caregivers at the school on how to use her insulin pump or test blood glucose levels.  After Elizabeth's father, an attorney, stepped in, the school did finally agree to let the health technician watch Elizabeth test her own blood glucose onsite, but she was not permitted to test in her classroom, nor was she able to keep vital supplies with her (everything, including glucagon was locked in a cabinet in the health office which was in another building).  If Elizabeth reported feeling “shaky” the school plan was to give her marshmallows and then send her to the health tech so she could test herself in the health office (God forbid she be too unstable to do it for herself).  The health tech would then call me with the results so I could instruct the school what to do next  what to do next. These new instructions had to be relayed and approved by the district nurse, often only reachable by voicemail, before they could be carried out by the health tech. If the health tech was at lunch, on break, or just not available onsite, only the district nurse, stationed at a another school five miles away, was permitted to provide care for my daughter. This included supervision of glucose checks and necessary action to correct hyper or hypglycemia.  As a result of this pitiful plan, Elizabeth was not tested when she should have been, and I was forced to make multiple trips to the school each day, and even my frequent visits to the school still proved not to be enough to keep her safe.

     The final straw came during one of those many daily trips when I discovered  Elizabeth on the playground in 100+ degree weather, dehydrated, and clearly in distress.  She was surrounded by five other little girls who were trying to keep her conscious; Elizabeth was fainting and heavily into diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).  There was not even an adult on the playground at the time so the girls tried to offer my daughter water, asking her to “please stay awake.”  When pressed for an explanation, the school informed me that when  Elizabeth said she was shaky her teacher gave her a marshmallow according to plan. and   then sent her onto the playground without being checked because the health tech was not onsite.  The teacher had reassured Elizabeth, “your mom usually shows up around this time of day to check you.  You’ll be fine.”  The teacher did not call me or the district nurse because she did not know enough about diabetes to understand the serious mistake she had just made; the district nurse refused to allow Elizabeth's teachers to be trained.

     That was Elizabeth’s last day at school.   I am fortunate because I work from home and was able to home school her for kindergarten, but as much as she enjoyed the safety of being with me, she was deprived of normal social interaction and we both felt cheated by the San Bernardino County school system.

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Page Updated 12/09/2005