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December 19, 2001

School and Daycare

Question from Fort Meade, Maryland, USA:

Our seven year old son was just diagnosed with diabetes, and his school does not have a licensed nurse. The school health assistant says that she cannot administer any medication nor help our son with the "finger pricking." We are very concerned over this since our son is still very new to diabetes, and if he was to go into shock or be unable to check himself there would not be anyone trained or licensed to assist him until medical services arrived. Is there a law or something that specifies that medical services must be accessible for the child in situations like this? We feel that we cannot let our son attend school if his health safety is in jeopardy. Any advice?


It is obvious that your son is not old enough to handle responsibility for diabetes management alone. As long as you file a 504 plan, the school is required to make needed accommodations for him. It is my understanding that in the absence of a licensed nurse, the school is required to designate someone to carry out the treatment plan described in the 504 plan and cannot require parents to sign a waiver of responsibility. Please see The Law, Schools, and Your Child with Diabetes. which reviews the laws that parents of children with diabetes need to understand to ensure that their children receive proper care and access to education while at school. As long as the school receives Federal funding of any type, and, if there is a written 504 plan, the school must carry out the physician’s orders even if a school nurse is not present. Failure to do so is a violation of the law.