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November 7, 2003

School and Daycare

Question from Ohio, USA:

My six year old, who is in good control and just started first grade, has her regular diabetes checkups that unfortunately fall during school hours, and she will need to miss school for those appointments. This year students who have perfect attendance get to go on a field trip every quarter to the movies, so now she does not want to go to her appointments because she doesn't want to miss out of a perfect attendance award with her friends. Our daughter has such a great outlook towards her diabetes management, and I don't want to her to become resentful that she must see her physician. Are there any provisions for children with diabetes that excuses or does not count absence due to diabetes related care with proper documentation from physician? I understand that with the Family Medical Leave Act there is a provision that an employee cannot be penalized for time off for a FMLA qualifying absence. This includes getting incentives for perfect attendance even if missed time due to FMLA. Does anything like that exist for children of school age to receive awards for attendance even if they missed due to diabetes appointments? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Answer:

It is unfortunate that students who are absent due to medical appointments may miss out on these types of opportunities. However, the reality is that many children do indeed miss school for doctor’s appointments, and these are usually considered “excused” absences. Unless other children are treated differently for absences due to doctor’s appointments, then the situation you have described does not constitute discrimination. You may try to work with the school by providing a list of anticipated appointments in advance — most endocrinology appointments are made at least three months in advance – to see if an exception may be made.

CJ