As you may know, DREDF is representing the American Diabetes Association (ADA) with co–counsel Reed Smith, LLP, as intervenor in a case of critical importance to California schoolchildren with diabetes and their rights to diabetes health related services in school and during school–sponsored activities. The case was heard before the California Supreme Court today, May 29, 2013, and a decision will issue within 90 days. In American Nurses Assn. et al. v. Tom Torlakson as Superintendent of Public Instruction et al. (American Diabetes Assn., Intervenor), No. S184583, the issues involve whether designated school personnel who are not licensed nurses are allowed to administer insulin to students. According to coverage of today's oral arguments, the Court indicated that they may let non–licensed personnel give insulin shots to the estimated 14,000 diabetic students now in California public schools.
You can read more about the effect of this issue on families and students who live with diabetes in this recent article. As parent Barbara Wright states, "Parents and kids are already living with this disease 24/7," she said. "To place any more obstacles in our way is just so frustrating for us."
DREDF has advocated strongly in support of ADA's longstanding position:
Every child deserves the right to be safe at school, yet when children with diabetes are unable to self–administer the insulin they need to stay healthy, and if a school nurse is unavailable, they are put in a potentially life–threatening situation.
- Without access to insulin, these children become dangerously ill and, long-term, face a greater risk of developing life–threatening complications. Because of their illness they often miss class and activities, leaving them without the same educational opportunities as their peers.
- With nearly half of the state's school districts not having a single nurse on staff, across the state, many children with diabetes are not safe at school.
- California state law and federal antidiscrimination laws require schools to protect the rights of students and provide diabetes care to any child in need.
- Diabetes experts agree that trained volunteers should be allowed to help students in need.
- Across the country many states allow non–medical school staff to administer insulin. And, every day, outside of the classroom, parents, siblings, and babysitters safely provide insulin to the children they care for.
California school districts are permitted to train unlicensed personnel to administer insulin as detailed in a California Department of Education Legal Advisory. Note what the CDE website says about the status of the law:
"The case is now on appeal, and the Court of Appeal has confirmed that the trial court's ruling is stayed until the appeal is finally resolved. The entire Legal Advisory therefore remains in effect. However, interested parties should check this Web site periodically for updates on the litigation and the status of the Legal Advisory."