Legal rights of students with diabetes
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Assume you’ve recently received word that your child has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. You’ve worked with the diabetes care team and learned how to monitor blood sugar levels, inject insulin, and recognize and treat hypoglycemia. You’ve accepted the fact that your child has a chronic illness that necessitates close monitoring. You’ve been told there’s no way to get better.
You’re looking forward to having your child back into his routine at home and with his friends at school after an emotional and disruptive week. When you arrive at school to meet with the principal in preparation for your child’s first day back, you are informed that he is no longer able to attend his neighborhood school due to his diabetes diagnosis, inability to self-manage diabetes, and the lack of a school nurse or other qualified staff member to assist him in his treatment. Instead, he must be bussed to a “diabetes clinic” with a full-time school nurse, but unknown teachers and a classroom full of children he does not meet. Although this may sound far-fetched, it was common practice in a north Florida school district before activists intervened and championed legislation prohibiting it.
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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act also consider diabetes as a disease. Florida law also provides special protection to diabetic students. The rights and obligations of students with diabetes and their parents are outlined in these state and federal statutes.
A school board does not decline to send a student to a school because the student has diabetes, the school does not have a full-time nurse, or the school does not have qualified diabetes staff, according to Florida Statute 1002.20(3)(j).
A student with diabetes can also bring diabetic supplies and equipment with parental and physician permission, according to Florida law. To the degree permitted by the parent, physician, and State Board of Education law, students may manage and care for their diabetes while at school, engaging in school-sponsored activities, or traveling.
Non-medical staff are authorized to assist under Florida law. The Nurse Practice Act in Florida requires nurses to train and assign insulin administration to unlicensed school employees who have demonstrated expertise in blood glucose control and insulin administration, according to the Florida Department of Health. To learn more about this subject, go to the Links tab and go to the Department of Health’s School Health Services Program website to read the Nursing Guidelines for the Delegation of Care for Students with Diabetes in Florida Schools.
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The CDE has agreed to change its QAP monitoring instruments and process to include special assessment items relating to students with the condition of OHI who have chronic or acute health conditions related to diabetes as part of the K.C. Settlement Agreement.
34 CFR section 300.153 outlines the elements of a complaint that must be included (b). The requirement that a complaint alleging child-specific problems include the child’s name and address (34 CFR sec. 300.153(b)(4)(a)) is particularly noteworthy. Under the IDEA, complaints of a structural nature do not need to name particular students, but they must include ample evidence of the alleged infringement for the CDE or the district to perform an effective investigation, and they must be signed.
Diabetes isn’t something we can choose to have, however we can choose to conquer it. Your contribution is significant and will help fund research into a cure and safer therapies, as well as raise awareness about the #EverydayReality of living with this disease. Let’s work together to defeat it!
Nearly 30 million people have diabetes, and a new case is diagnosed every 23 seconds. Each year, diabetes kills more people than breast cancer and AIDS combined. Your contribution today will help us get closer to curing diabetes and developing better therapies for diabetics.
“Education Law” is a term used to describe a set of laws that (PDF)
(Judge James A. Rapp) (May 2008)
Excerpt from a treatise on all facets of education law, which discusses schools’ legal duty to provide treatment and services to students with diabetes under federal law.
Consideration of ‘Mitigating Measures’ in OCR Disability Cases, according to Sutton Investigative Guidance (PDF)
(Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, Sept. 2000)
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) provided this guidance to explain how Sutton v. United Airlines and other Supreme Court rulings interpreting the Americans with Disabilities Act should be applied in the educational environment.