Children With Diabetes Sue School Districts, State

akland, CA Four elementary school -age students, along with the American Diabetes Association, filed an unprecedented civil rights complaint today in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California seeking class action relief against the California Superintendent of Public Schools, the California Department of Education, members of the California Board of Education, the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, the Fremont Unified School District, and their Superintendents and Boards of Trustees. The suit asks the Court to compel public school officials to comply with federal law by providing the assistance that California students with diabetes require to manage their diabetes during the school day.

The complaint alleges that the state and the local districts violate Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and applicable federal regulations in their failure to ensure the health and safety of public school students with diabetes in Kindergarten through 12th Grade by providing insulin administration, blood glucose monitoring, proper care in emergency situations, and other appropriate diabetes care.

The plaintiffs are represented pro bono by a team of attorneys in the Oakland and San Francisco offices of Reed Smith LLP, as well as by attorneys with the Berkeley -based Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc. (DREDF). Reed Smith attorneys participating include James M. Wood, Kenneth J. Philpot, Michael F. McCabe, Kurtis J. Kearl, Lisa C. Hamasaki, Tita Bell and Kendra Jue. DREDF attorneys include Arlene Mayerson and Larisa Cummings.

Students with type 1 diabetes, and some students with type 2 diabetes, require insulin to survive, said Mr. Wood. Without access to regular and ongoing blood glucose testing and insulin administration during the school day, these youngsters are at risk of serious and possibly fatal health complications. We intend to ensure that schools provide the services that are necessary to protect these childrens health and well -being. The federal government is committed to the idea that no child will be left behind in public schools. This lawsuit will ensure that no child is locked out because schools will not provide fundamental assurances that children with diabetes will be safe in school.

The California Department of Education, the San Ramon Valley and Fremont districts and many other districts across the state refuse to assign any school personnel to assist students with the injection of insulin as prescribed by the students doctors, even though school personnel can be trained to do so and are regularly trained and assigned these tasks in some schools, explained DREDFs Ms. Cummings.

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DREDF has been representing children with diabetes in California and across the nation for years. As DREDF attorney Arlene Mayerson explained, After several attempts to obtain relief from the California Department of Education failed, DREDF had no choice but to file a lawsuit. It is unacceptable and illegal for the districts and the CDE to ignore their moral and legal responsibilities to these children.

The complaint asks the Court to require the California Department of Education and the school districts to establish policy ensuring that districts will provide a sufficient number of adequately trained school personnel to check students blood glucose levels, monitor students for symptoms of high and low blood glucose, and assist with administering insulin or glucagon or other treatment the children require.

"Diabetes must be managed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A student with diabetes cannot take a break from diabetes when he or she boards the school bus in the morning. said L. Hunter Limbaugh, the Chair of the National Advocacy Committee at the American Diabetes Association and a parent of a daughter who has diabetes. Its vital that all students with diabetes in California and throughout the nation know they will be in a medically safe environment that affords them the same educational opportunities as other students. As is very clear from the stories of the named plaintiffs in this lawsuit, many students with diabetes in California are not safe at school. They do not have access to the basic tools to manage their diabetes. It is because this situation is intolerable for students and their families that the American Diabetes Association has joined this lawsuit."

Source: American Diabetes Association