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August 28, 2002

School and Daycare

Question from Shelbyville, Indiana, USA:

Today, I was told by my son's principal that she doesn't think it necessary that I be present in my son's classroom at his blood sugar checks. She stated that it was her school, and she didn't want any interruptions in the classrooms. This plan that I meet my son at his classroom and was arranged by myself and the teacher. I am in and out within five minutes, and I am already at the school at that time anyway picking up my kindergarten son. The teacher insists there have not been any interruptions, and there was no reason why I shouldn't come on into the classroom. Since all the kids are washing their hands to get ready for lunch, we don't interrupt any class time. I explained to the principal that since I am already in the school, I like to be in his classroom just for long enough to see what his number is and if his meal plan has to be changed accordingly. I explain what he can have at lunch, but if by chance he is low, I may need to tell him to get one extra carb, or drink chocolate milk instead of white. If he's high, I give a little more insulin as needed. Are there any 504 plans that specifically state the parent's legal right to be present during blood sugar checks if needed? We are desperate to nip this in the bud now. The principal has no basis or complaints to back up that we are 'disrupting' the class. All his former teachers have had no problems and have agreed to back us up if it becomes a legal issue.


It seems as if you have a sound position given that you are not taking class time to monitor blood sugar checks. However, you did not mention your son’s age exactly, and I wonder if he is old enough to make his own adjustments in his diet if he runs low? I am unaware of any law preventing you from participating in your son’s health and well being. but I would encourage your son to take on additional responsibility in his diabetes management if he is of an age to do so.

Additional comments from Dr. Tessa Lebinger:

I suggest you let the teacher and the principal work this out. I can see justification for both sides. If the teachers like your plan, they should convince the principal that they think it is the best plan for your child and the class. If the teachers are uncomfortable, you should meet your child in the nurse’s office if necessary for the five minutes.

I don’t know what your legal stand is, but I suspect the principal could insist you meet your child out of the class as long as your child receives the medical care he needs and it doesn’t compromise his learning. I’d avoid a fight if you can. It will be better in the long run.

Additional comments from Dr. David Schwartz:

The issue of whether or not to be present in the classroom for blood sugar checks seems to me to hinge more on an agreement with teacher-parent-and child and not so much with the principal. Perhaps the teacher can be your family’s advocate to speak with the principal on your behalf.

Besides, you might then learn if perhaps the teacher is really the concerned one, and the principal is being the heavy. My understanding is that the 504/IEP could indeed have a “clause” to allow the parent to be available, but that might set a bad, bad precedent for future issues later.

Additional comments from Dr. Jim Lane:

Your example of poor school/family relations sounds like an issue of control. Chances are that this principal knows nothing about diabetes. School officials listen to the Board and they listen to lawyers. Although you have the support of your son’s teachers, they take their orders from the principal. For a young child, what your are doing sounds okay. I would support it. In the evolution of your son’s development, those interpretations of glucose and diet will eventually be turned over to him. It would be of interest what the principal through would be appropriate for handling the situation. I suggest her answer would tell us how much she really knows about living with diabetes. If working with members of the school board doesn’t work, I would suggest seeking the opinion of a lawyer to allow you to have access to your child’s care.