School Accused Of Barring Boy Over Diabetes Treatment Dispute
A family in Utah has filed a lawsuit arguing that the school district is preventing their son from going back to school after a disagreement about his diabetes treatment plan. Caly Watkins' 8-year-old son – whose first name we've agreed not to share – spent his summer fishing and hosting his own YouTube show but now that the school year has started, instead of joining his third grade classmates he's learning his lessons alone in his kitchen.
Diagnosed before age two, he requires up to eight insulin injections a day. In a recently filed lawsuit, the family claims the school made several potentially dangerous mistakes with his dosage in 2018. So they requested they be allowed to prepare his diluted insulin and pre-fill the syringes at home. The school district will not allow that, saying pre-filled syringes must be prepared by a pharmacist.
"He has doctor's orders that state he needs this with him at all times. Utah law says he can carry anything prescription or non-prescription. But yet they refuse," Watkins said.
The lawsuit alleges that due to the school district's "refusals to accommodate" his "disability and medical needs, he has been denied his right to attend school with his non-diabetic peers." It also argues the district's request would require the parents to "pay several hundred dollars out of pocket "for a completely unnecessary service" not "covered by insurance."
"It's pretty clear that when there is an individual with a disability, a qualified individual, schools have to make modifications to policies to enable people with disabilities to have the same access," said Nate Crippes, who represents the Watkins.
The Office of the Utah Attorney General, which is representing the Jordan School District, says it "is unable to comment directly on the allegations" but says "approximately 130 students with Type 1 diabetes receive direct nursing services." They also say the "issues raised in this case highlight" the difficulty in balancing "the specific requests of individual students … with the need to provide a safe learning environment for all students."
Dr. Deena Adimoolam, an endocrinologist at New York's Mount Sinai, says lack of staffing and concerns over liability can affect children's care in school.
"We are seeing an increased number of these cases in schools," she said. "It is a 24-hour, 7-day a week illness that requires self-care and management. The needs of these kids need to be taken care of all day long in order to be successful with their disease."
On a national level, the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights says so far in the 2019 fiscal year, it has received 50 complaints about how school districts handled diabetes-related cases.
The Watkins family hopes their legal battle will help others.
"It's heartbreaking," Caly Watkins said. "There's no reason why he should not be with his peers."