New York City Schools Required To Overhaul Supports For Students With Diabetes

Students with Diabetes

Pointers at Glance

  • A federal judge has approved a class-action settlement requiring New York City schools to overhaul their support for nearly 2,000 children with diabetes.
  • The settlement ensures that students with diabetes are included in all activities and have access to adequate education plans and staff who can keep them safe.

For nearly two decades, students with diabetes in New York City schools have been routinely denied the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities or go on field trips. Their schools have failed to develop individualized plans for the students on time as federal law requires.

This week, a federal judge approved a class-action settlement that requires the city’s schools to overhaul its support for its nearly 2,000 students with diabetes, ensuring they’re included in all activities and have access to adequate education plans and staff who can keep them safe.

According to advocates:

  1. The case several parents filed on behalf of their children could have implications for districts nationwide.
  2. Diabetes is one of the most common chronic illnesses affecting children under 20 in the US, and it substantially limits major life activities.
  3. Thus, the federal law, Section 504, prohibits public institutions such as schools from discriminating against people with disabilities.

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Federal Law Requires Equal Access To Education For Students with Disabilities

Schools must develop plans for eligible children that detail what actions should be taken to ensure the student is medically safe, has equal access to educational opportunities, and is treated fairly.

The goal of 504 plans is to ensure that multiple staff members are trained to check blood glucose levels and administer insulin or a hormone that can quickly raise blood sugar levels in case of hypoglycemia.

These plans also provide strategies to minimize the amount of missed learning time for students with diabetes, while allowing for necessary exceptions to manage their condition. Additionally, 504 plans ensure full participation in extracurricular activities with appropriate supervision and medical assistance as needed.

New York City Schools Will Provide Diabetes Care Training and Support Staff

Schools often lack diabetes-trained nurses, resulting in students being denied participation in sports and field trips without a parent or nurse present.

  • To address this issue, New York City schools are implementing reforms such as diabetes care training for staff and providing endocrinologists and diabetes educators for each bureau.

According to Crystal Woodward, the director of the American Diabetes Association’s Safe at School campaign, these changes in the country’s largest school district will serve as a model – and reminder – for others nationally. “We know there are problems in other school districts. Hopefully, they will look at this settlement and say, ‘Hey, we need to do better… Let’s see what the gaps are in our district’s policy,” she said.

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