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D.C. to increase resources for diabetic students under agreement with feds

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Local,DC,Education,Lisa Gartner

D.C. Public Schools will train at least two school employees at every campus to administer insulin shots and other emergency medicine to diabetic students, per an agreement signed with the federal education department.

The public school system also will be required to create a grievance process for students with disabilities who feel their rights have been violated.

At Davis Elementary, an 8-year-old student with diabetes was sent home -- then labeled truant and referred to child protective services -- whenever the school nurse was absent, according to a complaint filed by University Legal Services, the city's federally mandated legal advocacy group. The American Diabetes Association also joined the complaint.

"Our client is looking forward to school this year," said Victoria Thomas, a staff attorney with ULS. "This agreement means that she won't have to stay home from school or stay behind while her friends

go on field trips just because she has diabetes. And her mom can go to work knowing her daughter will be safe and get the care she needs."

At-large D.C. Councilman David Catania hauled D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson and her special education chief, Nathaniel Beers, in for a hearing at city hall in July after the complaint was filed. Beers told Catania he had been prohibited from training non-nurses from giving medicine to diabetic students, although health department officials testified that this was not their policy.

Samia Altaf, the senior deputy director of community health administration, called the situation a "misunderstanding" and said the Health Department would train three or more staffers in affected schools by the start of the 2012-13 school year, which began Monday.

Meanwhile, the D.C. Council issued emergency guidelines allowing any school staff with the proper training to give medicine to students with diabetes or asthma.

lgartner@washingtonexaminer.com

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