The Alabama Legislature is on the verge of making changes topolicies relating to students with diabetes in schools across the state.
The bill would allow schools and school systems to designateand train non-medical personnel to administer diabetes treatments like Glucagonand insulin for students that need it.
"For those children who don't have a school nurse, in many casesthey've had to go to another school and this will give us an opportunity tohave somebody trained in that school who can go to those children," said EricMackey, Executive Director of the School Superintendents of Alabama. "Ifthey're very fragile children and they have to have a nurse, then the schoolsystem can provide a nurse for them."
The Alabama Senate approved the bill several weeks ago and a Housecommittee has already given the bill a favorable report, sending it to the fullAlabama House of Representatives. It hasn't yet been brought up forconsideration in the lower chamber.
Current law states that only school nurses are allowed toadminister the diabetes injections for students. The fact that Alabama does notallow staff other than nurses to administer diabetes treatments, and that insome cases children are required to change schools led to the Department ofJustice to get involved.
The Justice Department has sent a pair of letters outlining theirconcerns to the state after receiving complaints from parents in Alabama whowere concerned for their children who live with diabetes.
The initial December 3 letter said, "The State's andDistricts' policies, practices, and procedures discriminate against, andinterfere with the rights of, students with diabetes who use insulin andGlucagon and is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act."
The letter continued, "A local school district cannot treatchildren with diabetes differently from their siblings and peers by forcingthem to transfer to a school with a nurse, unless necessary based upon thechild's current medical data."
The Justice Department sent a second letter earlier this month.
Specifically the Justice Department argued that the practice ofrequiring diabetic students to attend specific schools that have properstaffing for their medical needs violated their rights to equal protectionunder the law according to the US Constitution.
The Department of Education, the Alabama Board of Nursing,and several other education associations all support the bill to allow schoolsto train more people to administer diabetes treatments for school children.
Honor Ingle with Alabama Board of Nursing said his groupopposed the first version of the bill but that the board is now agreeable tothe legislation that has passed the Alabama Senate.
"I think it's fair to say that children will have access toinjectable medications with more people trained to administer them," Ingle said.
The proposal wouldn't mandate that any individual mustreceive training, and the bill would not replace any child's individual healthplan that they have on file with the school district.
Eric Mackey, with the School Superintendents of Alabama, said it'slong overdue that the state is just now addressing the problem.
"We have hundreds of kids across the state who are in theclassroom every day," Mackey said. "Some of them are playing sports, they'regoing on field trips, all kinds of things in and after school and we want tomake sure that they're as safe as possible and that there's always an adultthat can take care of their needs."
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