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According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), an agreement was reached by the federal Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education (OCR) and Loudoun County Public Schools after parents complained about Loudoun County school officials refusing to administer life-saving glucagon injections to students suffering from severe insulin reactions. Parents Crystal Jackson and Sandi Pope feared that the health of their diabetic children was in danger.
Loudoun County school officials had earlier said that only registered nurses could administer the shots, but nurses were not available at all Loudoun County schools. The school district adopted a policy that called for dialing "911" rather than have non-medical personnel administer glucagon. Jackson and Pope responded by saying that their children could die or suffer brain damage in the seven to ten minutes it might take for emergency personnel to arrive.
"We were being asked to send our children to school with the knowledge that if they needed life-saving medication, no one at the school would provide it,'' said Pope.
Along with Jackson, Pope claimed that refusal to provide this service and other services necessary for children with diabetes to receive a "free appropriate public education," constituted discrimination in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This law prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.
The OCR agreed to take on the issue and their investigation ended with the signing of a Commitment to Resolve dated October 25, 1999. The new OCR agreement specifies that the Loudoun County school district must:
"We are hopeful that the resolution of our discrimination problems will help others whose schools refuse to provide these accommodations," Ms. Jackson said. "Schools must be willing to administer glucagon and insulin, must be willing to allow a child to have a snack, must be willing to do blood sugar testing, permit extra absences for doctors' appointments and illness, and give the child an opportunity to make up missed work and tests."
Dr. Ann Albright, chair of the ADA's Advocacy Committee, says the ADA constantly receives calls from parents whose school systems discriminate against children with diabetes.
"We believe this agreement will help us in our fight to put an end to this discrimination and protect the health of children with diabetes in schools and day care centers."
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