The Good Wifeabetes?

Ellen Ullman posted a link to this case on twitter and I hope some of you folks find this as interesting as I did. An appellate court reversed a motion for summary judgement granted by a circuit court in Tennessee. The details of the case are what we live with every day.

Wow. Thanks for posting, AR. It is interesting to read life with D through a legal-ese lense. And those 3 years must have been hell for that family! I wish I could say it's unbelievable...

I’m glad they had the resources and the gumption to stick with it. I heard about a school in town where a teacher refused a student with diabetes who wasoved to a different class with a less horrible teacher. The TN case seems very well chosen to support the notion of can doabetes

Sadly, this ongoing conflict is playing out for thousands across the country. The ADA basically tells schools they have to accommodate, but they often cannot obtain the resources necessary even if they are knowledgeable and good intentioned (which wasn't the case here). And as someone with a special needs child, if you don't advocate forcefully for your child, they will just shuttle them off to some closet that makes their job easier instead of assuring that every child has a fair and equal access to an education.

I was encouraged by the depiction of T1 in the opinion. I am not sure if that's a given or not but if one were suing someone about diabetes, or trying to come up with say a scheme for a class-action case vs. insurance and governmental limits on test strips (*cough cough*), I think one could do worse than to cite the characterization of the disease laid out in the opinion, reserving the notion of citing someone else's characterization of T2.

We had a similar case in D.C. a few years ago. Mom had no resources, but the Post ran a big story about discrimination towards diabetics in the school system, and her support came to her. So sad we have to go through all this junk.

Wow, I would sue too! This poor child has a pump and CGM and parents that are advocating for a meter in her classroom. A meter in the classroom would be mandatory if I had a diabetic child! For all their advocation they get labled as child abusers and it is threatened that their child could be removed from them. I am crying foul!

Hello Acidrock123:

SIGH, a pathetic situation, which is entirely unforgivable.

Given ACCESS, if we had the ability, not a single one of us here would even flinch at doing a test for a child, (a young peer) getting a reading off a CGM, and making certain appropriate action(s) were taken.

And it would be no stress at all.

"Demoting" back to a classroom would be a excellent punishment for a principal with such deliberate malice.

Let's remember what this decision was about: it did not say the parents proved their case. It did say there was enough evidence to proceed to a trial by jury. Do we know how that turned out?

If the plaintiffs ultimately won their case, then I can't agree with the idea of demotion as an appropriate punishment. Being responsible for a room full of children every day is the last place I would put someone harboring that sort of "deliberate malice." So, if punishment were warranted, and demotion wasn't the solution . . . . well, fill in the blank. Grossly paraphrasing Sherlock Holmes, when you have eliminated other possibilities, the one that remains has to be the answer.

But the plaintiffs argument is compelling as hell. The legal tricks aside, it was deliberate intent by that principal. Reduced in ability, power she would leave.

If not, class room teachers are in the mud up to their eyeballs, and administratively impotent, literally inaccessible to that level of powers/tools.

Maybe she would leave, and maybe not, especially if she has a pension to protect and only a few years left to "tough it out." She might go, or she might just turn sour and become even more vindictive. I have seen people do both, many times, and I for one do not have a reliable yardstick to predict which way a person will go. Especially when I've never met the person in question. No, I would not put this person, after undergoing this humiliation, in charge of kids. The risk is too great.

Again -- do we know how the case finally turned out??

Gee, I see this completely differently.

The parents would feed their daughter a meal every morning and over-treat it with insulin so that she would arrive at school with a very high BG, and then it would crash as the insulin took effect. Is that reasonable? Isn't that something the parents should have addressed? Like by finding a breakfast and insulin treaement that would work at least most of the time? Wouldn't you want to fix that if you were her parents?

More bizarre, the parents would pack food for their daughter that would include cookies, candy, and Kool-Aid? Apparently not to be used for BG treatment, but as part of her normal diet? Amazingly, the parents really felt this way - they made the following argument to the court: "First, Plaintiffs point out that someone with Type 1 diabetes can enjoy cookies and sweets just as any other person can so long as the sugar is measured and compensated for with insulin". Why would they push such a hard to manage diet on their T1 daughter? So this is why they need a nurse full-time watching their daughter - because they think their daughter should be allowed to eat anything she wanted and at any time, and the adults will be there to monitor and adjust the pump to accomodate that. Is that reasonable? Would you do that to your six year old daughter with T1 diabetes?

The Principal feared that the parents were unreasonably pushing the school system so that they could find grounds to sue the school. So what happens - the parents decide to sue the school - not because of any harm to their daughter (who was treated at least as well by the school as she was by her parents), but because they were inconvenienced by the DCS questioning them. Is that reasonable? Doesn't that prove that the Principal was correct about the parent's intentions?

Bear in mind that DCS concluded that the parents knew what they were doing. You can find plenty of inferences in this data to support whatever point of view feels right to you -- that the parents were wrong, that the school was, or that both were. We see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear -- even when it's not said, sometimes.

Look, there are going to be as many opinions on this as there are people, especially when viewing it from afar, never having met or heard directly from any of the principals, and having only the written record to go by.

One more time: do we know what the jury -- who suffered from none of those limitations -- decided??

It's unlikely that this will ever see a jury. This decision was filed at the beginning of the month so its too early to know. This sounds to me like a frivolous lawsuit intended to extract money out of the big pockets of the town. My prediction is it will be settled before trial. Which is in my opinion what the parents intended all along.

I completly agree that I would not let my T1 eat any food they want. The problem is that I bet this is what they were told. I bet the parents were told almost verbatim: Insulin is a powerful drug. Your child should not feel that they need to or do not need to eat ANY food, so long as you take the appropriate amount of insulin (not my beliefs at all).

If this is what the parents hear from the endo, then is it their fault for giving the child cookies at lunch? Certainly somewhat, but certainly not completely. Most of all I hope the parents find our community so that we can provide some advice that my help this young T1.

We can beat this to death and we will settle nothing. This is an angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin debate: no one is going to change their mind, and from where we sit at this great distance we cannot establish definitive answers -- just opinions, strongly held or otherwise. No harm, no foul; I'm directing my attention elsewhere.

Not only that, but this will help neither in the understanding of the needs of diabetics, nor the situation in a national public school system that is currently under assault from all quarters.

I'm a diabetic, which means I empathize and sympathize with the plight of diabetics in this country. I'm also a public school teacher. I'm not going to even pretend to try to understand why the two parties could not come to an agreement on what are reasonable accomodations for the child.

I can tell you though, as a mandated reporter, I don't have wiggle room to either report or not report if I even suspect child abuse. Knowing what I know about diabetes, from what I can gather from the case description, without being there myself, I would have reported the incident too. If we, as mandated reporters, do not err on the side of the child, we might as well shove at risk children into closets.

Now it's in the courts. They will have to decide.

I side with the parents especially in regard to the jaw-dropping charges of child abuse (thankfully, the local DCS was enlightened in re to T1). I view that as a punitive, malicious act and for that alone, I wish the principal had been removed. Sure, cookies et al are not optimal (for anyone) but the spike can be offset with protein and fat and is manageable especially with pump and CGM. I side with the principal in re to the extra nurse and would not expect a school district to fund an entire salary for the sake of my child. School districts have to operate within their budgets. Sadly, if you remove the request for the school nurse on one side and outrageous claims of child abuse (I sure wish intent could have been proved) on the other side, the situation could have been resolved fairly easily with a new rule that fingersticking in the class room is okay. A little common sense could have averted the entire drama. The principal is lucky the case didn't go before Judge Sotomayor!

In Canada we don't have 504 plans and assistance with any sort of D care at school is most often, non existent. My son has a learning disability in addition to T1. As a result, he had an individual education plan for his learning disability well before his T1 diagnosis. Two years post diabetes diagnosis we asked for diabetes to be noted on his IEP as a valid explanation for the frequency of school absences and the principal demanded that the teacher preparing the IEP seek proof that he is diabetic. If the principal had taken two seconds to open his OSR, which is the file held by the principal of a students records that follows them from one school to the next, she could not have missed the 8 1/2 x 11 page with a scan his photo in colour, enlarged scan of his Ontario health insurance card and enlarged scan of his medic alert wallet card with diagnosis detail in black and white, and the name and contact number of his endocrinologist. I was so pissed, I told my husband (who worked in the same school) to take our son's sharps container to school and leave it on the principal's desk, which he didn't do, so as to not rock the boat. Later that year looking around on the internet, I found that my son's school board is one of few in Ontario that actually has a written protocol for diabetes (albeit, it's poorly written) and only deals with administration of oral meds so not of much good to a T1. The protocol requires the principal to identify all T1's in the school just like kids with anaphylactic allergies. It is then the principals responsibility to ensure training of all teachers that are exposed to a T1, but unlike anaphylactic allergies where epipen training is to be conducted, teachers of T1's are simply to be made aware that hypoglycemia is life threatening and when in doubt, call 911. You would not believe the little worksheet that I used to put in the lunch box every day. I made up batches of small preprinted forms with lines to note all of the food items in the lunch box, with carb count to the side, then total for the carb count for the lunch, then the formula for the lunch time carb ratio with a line for the carb total, that I'd write in everyday and another line for the insulin dose (assuming all lunch will be eaten), with detailed sliding scale below the formula to adjust insulin dose if his BG was over or under target. A pocket sized calculator was needed and included in the lunch box, so that if he'd look in the lunch box and decide that he might not eat any one of the items that were packed, his Dad or his older sister would supervise his BG reading and help him adjust the math. All I can say is thank god for the bolus wizard on insulin pumps that allow our kids to focus on learning to carb count efficiently and skip worrying about what the 1/C ratio is at any given time throughout the day. Pre-pump I was worried that I'd have to carry on with the little worksheet method into high school and we can all guess how well that would have gone over.

I feel very deeply for parents of young children with T1 who are struggling to manage T1 at school.

The insistence of a trained nurse's salary for one student was only the first of their unreasonable requests. The town conceded on that one - but that just made the unreasonable requests keep coming. Why is it reasonable for a parent to dictate to a school that it must send a nurse into a classroom, disrupting the education of 30 kids in a second grade class three times a day, rather than letting the child excuse herself and go to the nurse for her BG tests if she can't do it herself? Isn't the school responsible for the education of all the kids in the school, and not just the one who has diabetes?

As FHS notes, it is mandated to report suspected child abuse, and therefore not so outrageous. The DCS issued its ruling, and the parents should have dropped it there and not filed their outrageous lawsuit. How would you like to be the daughter in the center of this case - with parents who have sued the teachers and school you go to and the town you live in?

How is the parents' lawsuit going to help the poor girl who is trying to manage living with T1 diabetes? Other than allowing her parents to buy a new BMW and bigscreen TV?