Parents are challenging school policies that make it difficult for diabetic children to inject insulin and test blood sugar levels while at school.
Diabetes is a one of the most common diseases afflicting school-age children that affects about 1 in every 500 people under 20.
Juvenile diabetes, commonly known as Type 1 diabetes, is a syndrome with disordered metabolism and inappropriately high blood glucose levels due to a deficiency of insulin secretion in the pancreas.
Although Carter Christiansen is a diabetic, he was not allowed to prick his finger to test his blood sugar level while in school. On the many days the nurse was not available his mom would drive to the school every two hours to ensure her son didn’t suffer serious reaction.
Kari Christiansen had to deliver her son’s blood-testing device to and from school each day because the device was banned from the school bus by administrators because they considered it a weapon.
The needles used in blood-testing devices are tiny and skinnier than that of a straight pin. Yet, still, some school districts have banned them from school buses or they are kept locked in the medicine cabinet, making it difficult for students to reach them when needed.
After Christiansen and her husband were notified that Carter had fallen down in the school hallway and was nearly unconscious, they hired an attorney to fight for his rights.
Christiansen recalls, “The school refused to train any employees about diabetes,” because officials were concerned about spilled blood.
The Christiansen’s efforts echo parents nationwide seeking stronger policies and laws to help diabetic students manage the disease, including training employees other than the school nurse how to properly inject insulin or test blood-sugar levels.
Some schools have gone as far as to ban diabetic students from extracurricular activities or sport teams, due to liability fears, unless a nurse or parent is present. Likewise, they have refused to train personnel about diabetes, forcing parents such as the Christiansen’s to make repeated daily trips to the school.
In 2005, the American Diabetes Association along with four children and their parents sued the California Department of Education. In 2007 a settlement was reached that reinforces laws to protect diabetic students. Students must have access on their campus to diabetes-related services, such as insulin injections and blood testing.
If a family member or school nurse is not available, a volunteer can be trained to administer the insulin injection.
Four nursing organizations filed their own lawsuit against the California Department of Education following the settlement. They argued care for diabetic students should be provided by medical professionals only. A judge ruled in favor of the nurses’ on November 14.
The training of non-medical school personnel to carryout tasks for diabetic student’s, is supported by The American Federation of Teachers, as long as it’s in accordance with the state law and training is performed by the school nurse.
School diabetes-care legislation has been passed in twelve states so far and ensures that students with diabetes are safe at school and have the same educational opportunities as their peers. #