American Diabetes Association Applauds D.C. Public Schools Agreement and D.C. Department of Health Rulemaking to Ensure Children with Diabetes are Safe at School

Alexandria,VA,
August 31, 2012

The American Diabetes Association (Association) is pleased to announce D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) has signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education to help keep District children living with diabetes safe at school. This resolution, which was signed by DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson, ensures all children with diabetes have adequate access to necessary diabetes care at school by, among other provisions, requiring two employees from each school where there is a child in need be trained to assist with vital diabetes care. These employees will be trained to administer insulin, which is needed multiple times a day, and glucagon, a lifesaving injection needed in the case of dangerously low blood glucose levels. This resolution also allows children, if they are capable of doing so, to self-manage their diabetes while at school. 

The resolution agreement was the result of a complaint filed by Latesha Taylor, whose young daughter did not have access to essential diabetes care while attending a D.C. public school.  When a school nurse was unavailable, Taylor was required to travel to and from the school to provide diabetes care for her daughter, or keep her daughter home from school, reducing her access to an equal education. Taylor, with the assistance of the American Diabetes Association and the University Legal Service Protection and Advocacy Program, secured this important legal victory, ensuring her daughter and all children with diabetes who attend DCPS will have access to the care they need – even when a school nurse is unavailable – to stay healthy and have the same educational opportunities as their peers.

Additionally, an emergency hearing of the Committee on Health was convened to discuss the failure to implement the 2007 Student Access to Treatment Law and discrimination faced by the Taylor family. Councilmember David Catania, who authored the law, required DCPS and the Department of Health to implement regulations allowing trained staff to administer diabetes before the start of the upcoming school year. On August 24, the Department of Health released the emergency proposed rule, enabling trained school employees to administer medication to a student for the treatment of diabetes in emergency and routine situations, and permits self-administration.

“This agreement and the D.C. Department of Health emergency proposed rulemaking is an enormous step by D.C. Public Schools to maintain the safety and welfare of all students,” said Alan L. Yatvin, Chair of Legal Advocacy for the American Diabetes Association. “Parents of children with diabetes will now have peace of mind knowing their child is medically safe when heading off to school each day.  In addition, children with diabetes will no longer have to stay home from school and field trips, or be forced to attend schools away from friends and family because of their diabetes.”

An estimated 215,000 children under the age of 20 are living with diabetes in the U.S. Diabetes is a disease that must be managed 24/7, including the many hours spent at school, on field trips and in extra-curricular activities, if these vulnerable children are to avoid blood glucose levels that can be life-threatening in the short term and lead to blindness, amputation, kidney failure and heart disease later in life. Every day, these children are put in dangerous situations if no one is present at school to help with insulin and glucagon administration. The DCPS resolution will provide access to the diabetes care these children need, and deserve, to learn and be healthy.

To address barriers to diabetes care at school, the Association created its Safe at School campaign. Through this campaign, the Association is dedicated to making sure that all children with diabetes are medically safe at school and have the same educational opportunity as their peers. 

The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight to Stop Diabetes and its deadly consequences and fighting for those affected by diabetes. The Association funds research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes; delivers services to hundreds of communities; provides objective and credible information; and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. Founded in 1940, our mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.

For more information please call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2383) or visit www.diabetes.org. Information from both these sources is available in English and Spanish.