When Hunter began school, he was in half day Kinder. This was super easy for me because he needed no insulin at school, well for the most part. I dosed him for breakfast. He had a carb free or super low carb snack at school which required no insulin. The only thing he needed was to have his blood sugar checked in the nurses office. School was over just before lunch time, it was perfect! Then we moved to first grade, all day. Those first few weeks were a nightmare!
You see with our wonderful country being broke, our public schools do not have the funds for every school to have a school nurse. We have district nurses and “health techs” who are the ones actually at the schools all day. Now, this is all fine and dandy for bumps and bruises, first aid, ect. Health techs are trained in CPR & First Aid. I could be a health tech. Have seriously thought about it.
Having a child with any sort of serious condition or illness, we have to go into the school to check in all medications and go over school bell schedule and how often my child needs to go into the nurses office without missing much of any class. We figured it out and I was very confident everything was going to be wonderful. I was WRONG! You see, when you don’t raise your voice and speak up no one will hear you or help you. No one outside of the nurses office or the classroom knew my child was diabetic. This is not ok! When a Type 1 Diabetic child is given Insulin to cover a meal, they need to be able to eat that meal or else their blood sugar will drop. This can cause anything from a nasty belly ache to blacking out because of extreme low blood sugar. Picking Hunter up from the first day of school he was crying saying his belly hurt. We tested his blood sugar right away and he was super low. Gave him a juice box and asked him if he ate his lunch, did he forget to eat part of it. Did he get too much insulin for his meal. Crying, he explained to me that his first grade class was confused where to sit for lunch and they took too long, so they were instructed to pack up there lunches and go back to class. I was surprised I didn’t have smoke coming out of my ears. I called the school immediately. Who do I need to talk to about this? If you think I’m mad now, let me get a phone call about an ambulance on their way to pick up my child and you see a whole new level of crazy!!!!!(my words to the poor school secretary). I was told, they were trying something new with the lunch schedules and everyone was confused, it wouldn’t happen again. Well it did, and this time the principal was the one telling the 1st graders to pack up. Leaving my child and every other first grader hungry and confused…….again. This time a phone call was not enough, I marched my butt over to the school and waited for the principal. Of course she was way to busy for a meeting so I did what any sane mother would do. I waited outside the door waiting for her to walk by.
I explained to her my concerns not only for my child but the many others who were confused and hungry for the rest of the day. Her response was that maybe my child with special needs should eat alone in the nurses office since it was so hard and confusing. I thought that was pretty funny!!!! After I very nicely let her know that my child is fully capable of eating and finishing his lunch if he was given the proper opportunity and explaining that there was no way my child was going to be excluded from his peers to eat because she couldn’t figure out a proper lunch schedule, I said thank you for her time and went directly to the school district office and filed a formal complaint(which is what I was asked to do after they had me sit and wait for 30 minutes, so I kind of freaked out and raised my voice a little). I also started making phone calls one of which was my wonderful friend of 15 years. She was a teacher and had the info I needed! Thank you friend, I love you!!!!
She informed me to file a 504 plan. What was this thing she spoke of and how was it going to help Hunter??? A 504 is a Federal Law that protects students with disabilities and illnesses from being discriminated against. It requires the school to give the child the same opportunities as students without disabilities or illnesses. So for us, what did we need changed?
-Health techs: they were wonderful but they were not nurses. They are very sweet and lovely but in our district they were shuffled around. They were not very comfortable with Hunters care plan or knew very much about it if at all. If one of them couldn’t give Hunter an injection I was called to drive over. This was ridiculous!
– Schedule: There needed to be a schedule that was explained and everyone needed to know Hunter was Diabetic. He was one of two children in the entire school that were Type 1Diabetic. Everyone needed to know their faces and what to look for in case of an emergency. If for some reason they could not finish their lunch they needed to be directed where to go to finish.
-Nurses: I wanted only Rn’s or LVN’s caring for my child. If I asked for it, the district had to deliver.
So here is my breakdown/understanding of our 504 plan.
My child has an illness that requires him to have extra care throughout the day for him to be able to have the same school experience and opportunity as everyone else. This is what our 504 plan states:
Hunter is able to drink water, have an extra snack or potty break throughout the day as needed.
There is to only be licensed RN’s or LVN’s in charge of his daily Diabetic care that are trained in Type 1 Diabetes and comfortable with how his insulin pump works.
Hunters parents are to be called daily with his Blood sugar levels and his parents and doctors can give instructions and care plan changes over the phone.
To initiate a 504 plan, I needed to request one from our district nurse and then a meeting was set up through the principal. In this meeting was the Principal, Hunters teacher, a school district rep., the district nurse, Hunter and my husband and I. Earlier, the district nurse and I went over all of our requests and the new care plan we needed. She typed them all up and at the meeting. We all went over, signed and agreed to the new terms of our childs daily care. Now, when you first request a 504, they are going to try to talk you out of it……don’t give in. A 504 plan once filed, follows your child through their school career and you can change the terms yearly as your childs needs change. I am very happy to now say that because of our 504 Plan, Hunter has a morning LVN and an afternoon LVN who are not changed or shuffled around. They know him and his pump very well. I get 3 phone calls a day with his readings and he is very happy and healthy. What else can a parent ask for?!?!?!?! Every year we have our 504 meeting and we have not had a problem since. If there were to ever be a problem with the school not holding up their end, we do not go to the school district. We go directly to the OCR, Office for Civil Rights. Think that might be why they try to talk you out of filing in the first place;)
So, I am not trying to say anything harsh about Health Techs or our school systems. I am just trying to share information in hopes to help another parent or caretaker who are having similar problems or concerns. Because your child needs a little extra help or care shouldn’t mean their school experience should be different from anyone else’s. They shouldn’t miss out on something because someone didn’t want to bother the school or ask a question. Sometimes all it takes is to speak up, stand up for something. If you need something, ask for it!………and if they say no, go over their heads;)
There is no way I am ever going to let my Little Diabetic be held back or miss out on something because of being Diabetic.
NO ONE PUTS MY BABY IN THE CORNER!!!!
……and doesn’t have me to answer to;)
Thanks for reading. Please feel free to ask any questions. if I don’t have the answer……I will find it for ya:)