[Previous Months][Date Index][Thread Index][Join - Register][Login]
[Message Prev][Message Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
[IP] Diabetic Discrimination
And while we're on the topic of how our own kids can make themselves feel
"different", how's this story about others' outrageous actions, sent to me by
cyber advocate CamelsRFun! Granted this is the antithesis of most of these
stories where the parents are DEMANDING a school nurse, but if these parents
were comfortable without one, then this administrative action is unacceptable!
Transfer order irks parents of diabetic
Thursday, October 5, 2000
By LISA STIFFLER
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
Other children went off to their first day of kindergarten
with a backpack and lunch box. But when Fiona Galarreta
and Taneejah Smith started school last month, they brought
a small device that would prick their finger and test their
Before they'd worn the points off their crayons, the
kindergartners -- both of whom have insulin-dependent
diabetes -- and their parents were told by the Seattle Public
Schools that they would have to enroll elsewhere in the
Based on conferences with the parents, nurses and
administrators, the district determined that "the safest and
most appropriate placement was in . . . a school with a
full-time nurse," said Brenda Little, deputy general counsel
for the district.
The girls' parents have sued the district to keep their
daughters in Thurgood Marshall and Sanislo elementaries,
which lack full-time nurses, arguing that nurses aren't
needed for their children to control their diabetes.
The district is allowing the girls to remain where they are
until a hearing scheduled Oct. 19 in U.S. District Court. The
judge is expected to make a temporary decision about their
school placement until the case is settled in court. A trial
date has not been set.
The problems faced by diabetic children in school led to
the creation of a state task force more than two years ago. A
final report should be released to educators in the next
couple of months.
Based on the statistical prevalence of diabetes, there are
about 60 children of all ages in Seattle Public Schools with
the condition, the district said. Most were either old enough
to treat themselves or were in schools with a full-time
Five diabetic elementary-school children were evaluated to
determine what school they needed to attend. Four,
including Fiona and Taneejah, were told to move to schools
other than the ones their parents had chosen.
"I'm shocked, just completely shocked," said Abby Wolk,
Fiona's mother. "Nobody told me because my daughter has
diabetes she's going to be completely discriminated
Tony Shapiro, the attorney for the families, said there is
protection for the children in state and federal
anti-discrimination laws, including the Americans with
Disabilities Act and the Federal Rehabilitation Act.
The parents of both children said they informed the district
during enrollment that their girls had diabetes. They say
they were told that it would not limit their school choice.
An apparent lack of communication between enrollment and
nursing allowed the students to enroll in schools without a
Nine of the Seattle district's 69 schools serving
elementary-grade children have full-time nurses. Most
middle and high schools in the district also have full-time
While Fiona, 6, and Taneejah, 5, can use a glucometer --
drawing a drop of blood smaller than a lady bug and getting
a digital measurement of their glucose level -- they need
help reading the number and knowing whether to eat
crackers and juice or skip chocolate milk with lunch.
Thomas Smith, Taneejah's dad, said that if her glucose
level is between 0 and 79, she needs sugar; if it's over 200,
she should have water. Between 80 and 199, she's OK.
"It's not really a complicated situation, but (the district is)
making it out to be," Smith said.
Before lunch at Thurgood Marshall, Taneejah tests her
blood. Her teacher writes down the number on a piece of
paper and pins it to the girl's shirt, where it is read by one
of the cafeteria workers who has diabetes and knows what
the little girl should eat, according to Smith.
The district said it will allow a child to use a glucometer
and for a non-nurse to verify the numbers, but not more.
"Once those numbers appear, then a layperson cannot take
those numbers and recommend or assist a child in getting
juice or cookies," Little, the schools' lawyer, said.
However, Little said that this was not the final word on the
matter. The district is concerned about risk and liability and
is trying to determine what can be reasonably delegated to a
layperson, she said.
When determining how to respond to a blood-sugar
reading, "there are standards," said Clair Sagiv, the
American Diabetes Association's area executive director
for Washington. "It's not interpretive."
One of the members of the state task force studying the
diabetes issue, who asked not to be named, said that the
intent of the group's forthcoming report was not to have
children transferred between schools.
"The question is, do they move every kid with a special
need?" he said.
"Kids with diabetes have enough things that make them
different from other kids."
P-I reporter Lisa Stiffler can be reached at 206-448-8042
or email @ redacted
for HELP or to subscribe/unsubscribe, contact: HELP@insulin-pumpers.org
send a DONATION http://www.Insulin-Pumpers.org/donate.shtml