California Supreme Court Ruling Protects the Safety and Health of California Students with Diabetes

August 12, 2013

The American Diabetes Association is extremely pleased with the California Supreme Court’s decision in American Nurses Association v. Torlakson, a landmark case litigated by the Association involving diabetes care in California public schools.

Today’s decision made it clear that state law is not an obstacle to children with diabetes receiving the proper care and the insulin they need to be healthy and medically safe at school. The California Supreme Court agreed with the Association’s position that state law allows school personnel, who are not nurses, to volunteer and be trained to help children with the insulin they need to survive and thrive at school.

"Today's monumental California Supreme Court decision affirms that every child with diabetes has the right to access the lifesaving insulin needed to stay healthy and safe at school,” said Karen Talmadge, PhD, Chair of the Board, American Diabetes Association. “School staff can volunteer to be trained to provide diabetes care when a school nurse is unavailable. This means parents of children with diabetes can feel confident of their children's well-being when they send them to school every day.”

The Association recognizes the vital role school nurses play in maintaining the overall health of all students, including those with diabetes. The Court’s decision in no way lessens that role, as school nurses oversee diabetes care in schools, and coordinate and provide training to other school personnel so they can administer insulin when the school nurse is not available. The Association stands ready to assist and urges all California schools to take the necessary steps to train school staff in proper diabetes care.

The case came before the California Supreme Court after nearly eight years of litigation, which began with a class action lawsuit brought by the Association that was resolved by a settlement agreement allowing trained non-medical school personnel to administer insulin when a nurse is not available.  That provision of the settlement was challenged in the current lawsuit by several nursing organizations, leading to today’s decision. The Association was represented by Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) and Reed Smith LLP.

About the American Diabetes Association

Nearly half of American adults have diabetes or prediabetes; more than 30 million adults and children have diabetes; and every 21 seconds, another individual is diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. Founded in 1940, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization whose mission is to prevent and cure diabetes, and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. The ADA drives discovery by funding research to treat, manage and prevent all types of diabetes, as well as to search for cures; raises voice to the urgency of the diabetes epidemic; and works to safeguard policies and programs that protect people with diabetes. In addition, the ADA supports people living with diabetes, those at risk of developing diabetes, and the health care professionals who serve them through information and programs that can improve health outcomes and quality of life. For more information, please call the ADA at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit Information from both of these sources is available in English and Spanish. Find us on Facebook (American Diabetes Association), Twitter (@AmDiabetesAssn) and Instagram (@AmDiabetesAssn)