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September 5, 2008

School and Daycare

Question from Myerstown, Pennsylvania, USA:

My 12-year-old is on the school field hockey team. She was told that if she were to continue to miss practice due to testing her blood sugar or being high or low, playing time would be taken away. When she is low, they tell her to hurry up. I went to the Athletic Director and asked him about getting the coaches some training. He said no and indicated that she shouldn't be playing sports if she needs to test so much. She just got a pump two months ago and this is the first sport she is playing since then. I am still learning her body and the basal rates for sports. I tried to explain that to them and they said it didn't matter. Isn't this discrimination? Where might I find more information about it? Do you have any ideas as to what my next step would be? Can the school refuse training if I set it up and my daughter's pump company calls the school?

Answer:

Assuming that your daughter attends public school, the school is required to allow equal access to all school sponsored activities. Clearly, the school field hockey team is a school-sponsored event. I recommend that you write a some language into your daughter’s Section 504 Plan that allows for needed adjustments. Please keep in mind that even though your daughter has diabetes, that she still must comply with team requirements such as attending practices. If she were low during practice, then she should be allowed to treat her low and wait until her blood sugar levels return to her target range. I recommend that you write training of coaches and athletic staff into the 504 plan. For more information, see the ADA’s web page on School Discrimination and call 1-800-DIABETES for the ADA’s school packet and to speak with ADA’s legal advocacy staff. Hope this information is helpful to you.

CJ