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diabetes discrimination in school

Parents Sue When Type 1 Child Excluded from School

Managing type 1 diabetes for school aged-kids can be a difficult task. You can’t be with your child at school, so you can’t know for sure if they are getting the right treatment. Also, for children, the attitude of those around them about diabetes affects how they experience the condition. With hardships getting treatment and lack of accommodations, kids can feel stressed and excluded. 

Utah lawsuit

A Utah family is in the middle of a lawsuit with their son’s school because the Jordan School District wouldn’t let him attend his school, Butterfield Canyon Elementary, last year. For the 2018-2019 school year, the boy, identified as K.W. in the court files, was forced to be home-schooled on “home and hospital status.” 

K.W. has to test his blood sugar levels and take insulin injections four times a day. The hitch is that he takes two different kinds of insulin. One type is a diluted insulin which he uses because he is sensitive to the hormone. 

The Jordan School District will only allow medications through syringe if they have already been filled by a pharmacist, and K.W.’s is a special diluted insulin prepared by his parents. It would be way too expensive and impractical to have it prepared by a pharmacist. 

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Complaints about type 1 diabetes discrimination in school

Difficulties handling type 1 by school administrators are not uncommon. In 2019, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights got 38 complaints about the handling of type 1 by school districts. In 2018, there were 55 complaints.

Complaints included children:

  • Barred from attending the school in their zone
  • Transferred to a different school
  • Having a hard time receiving proper diabetes care at their schools
  • Being prevented from taking part in extracurriculars they enjoy

Under Utah law, the school should allow the child to administer his insulin. In addition, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires schools to make it easy for those with illnesses to attend school. 

When the nurses at K.W.’s school were administering the insulin, his mother Caly Watkins was never sure whether the dose was right. Once, they nearly gave him 10 units when he was meant to have one. 

The Watkins family is seeking readmission to his school and damages. 

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