Settlement Reached in Board of Education Lawsuit
School Children with Diabetes Nationwide May Benefit
In a case that could have positive implications for students with diabetes in public schools, settlement of a Federal Lawsuit has been announced between the parents of a student and the East Haddam Board of Education, East Haddam, Ct.
The settlement will allow the student, Katelyn Cross, access to her glucose monitor and diabetes supplies within the school, wherever and whenever it is necessary. Stipulated in the agreement was certification by the doctor that Katelyn was competent to perform a fingerstick and that there was no risk of a blood pathogen from the procedure.
The school district had adopted a policy that allowed students to perform glucose testing only in the Health office despite the compelling results of the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) in the early 90's. These results clearly showed that tight glucose control could significantly reduce the long-term complications associated with diabetes.
The parents and their attorneys argued that this requirement amounted to unlawful discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act and filed suit in District Federal Court in 1996.
Putting the glucose monitoring issue in perspective, more and more schools are adopting policies allowing classroom glucose monitoring as being in the best interest of the child. Health departments in certain states, such as Vermont, have published comprehensive guidelines supporting glucose testing wherever the child feels most comfortable.
"We are hopeful that resolution of our discrimination problems will help others whose schools refuse to provide accommodations for children whose doctor's feel classroom testing is appropriate" the Crosses said. "We're very thankful for the strong support provided by the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and the American Diabetes Association in the resolution of this case."
While the East Haddam school district learned a lot about diabetes during the course of resolving the lawsuit, the family learned a lot as well. "The experience taught us to stand up for what we believe and also provided a sense of empowerment for Katelyn. Diabetes control is a relentless 24 hour a day process and equipment and supplies needed to monitor one's health must not be confiscated when entering a public building."
Diabetes is an incurable disease that affects the body's ability to produce or respond properly to insulin, a hormone that allows blood sugar to enter the cells of the body and be used for energy. People with Type I diabetes - which makes up the vast majority of students with diabetes - as well as some people with Type 2 diabetes, must receive insulin every day either through injections or an insulin pump. However, use of insulin can cause too much sugar to cross the cell membranes. This results in abnormally low blood sugar levels or "hypoglycemia." Knowing how much insulin is required or whether one's blood sugar level is high or low is determined by a simple fingerstick procedure.
Diabetes affects approximately 16 million people nationwide. It is the country's sixth deadliest disease and can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputations.
For additional information, please contact:
30 Alger Road
East Haddam, CT 06423
Posted 9 January 2000
Updated 27 September 2001
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