There’s no question that caring for students with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is a difficult process for many schools. It’s a complex disease with potentially life-threatening consequences if not managed properly. Even if school nurses are trained to aid students suffering from the disease, it can still be a scary task.
But that does not excuse recent decisions by some schools that have actually refused to accept children with T1D. According to a recent story from the NY Times (LINK), a headmaster in Seattle told a couple that their son ”would never be accepted because of his disability.”
From my perspective, the only disability is that of the headmaster who suffers from being an ignorant ass. Or as the child’s mother, Dr. Jessica Pollard stated, “It took everything in me not to give him the middle finger.”
I give Dr. Pollard much credit for her self-control. I’d probably have tackled the guy. Another confusing and infuriating aspect about this situation is when one considers the liberties taken by schools regarding “what’s best” for the students. Elementary schools in particular have taken on the unwarranted role as parents. Lunch meals have been altered, Physical Education eradicated, and in some cases, teachers are wearing body cams to watch student behavior.
(That last one is a very slippery and creepy slope).
According to the data from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, T1D has increased nearly 21% among children in recent years. In 2012, an estimated 208,000 children had the disease. In nearly 400 cases since 2011, parents have brought complaints to federal authorities about schools that decline to care for these students. And that’s just the number of reported cases. The number is believed to be much higher.
Students who get diagnosed have been transferred or barred from attending their zoned schools after being diagnosed with the disease. So… competition among students is frowned upon because it makes some kids feel alienated, but if you’re diagnosed with diabetes, get the hell out. Good call. Clowns.
In 2013, the federal Department of Justice found that the state of Alabama “systematically discriminated against diabetic schoolchildren for years; students with Type 1 diabetes were not allowed to join field trips and sports practices, or to attend the same schools as their siblings.”
Talk about alienating a kid. How they explain these rules. ‘Oh, sorry, but due to your disability (that you had absolutely no control over), you can’t come to the zoo… or play hockey… in fact, pack your shit and leave.’ It’s like a South Park episode.
Again, I understand that this puts pressure on nurses and teachers who are already under stress. But is this the best we can do? Instead of training the staff to test blood sugar levels or administer Glucagon in extreme situations, schools find it simpler to just ban the poor kid from attending. It’s lazy
It’s also illegal under the federal protections like Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. I can understand that even trained school employees may fear that providing care may expose them to legal issues if something goes wrong. But according to Laura Keller, the ADA Director of State Government Relations, “as long as they act in good faith, they can’t be sued.”
If we can’t find a solution for children with T1D, where do we go next? After all, there are many students suffering from potentially dangerous conditions asthma, epilepsy, or obesity. Are they next on the list of students who get barred from attending school?