Catherine Bertram, partner
According to an
article in the Washington Post, the U.S. Department of Education is investigating
DC Schools because of a complaint by the mother of a diabetic third grader
at Davis Elementary in Southeast D.C. The mother contends that when the
school nurse was not available she was told she only had two options on
those days: either come to school with her child, monitor her blood glucose
level and administer the medication or she could keep the child at home.
The complaint was filed with the Office for Civil Rights for the US Department
of Education. The complaint contends that when the mother exchanged heated
words with Davis principal Maisha Riddlesprigger, that Ms. Riddlesprigger
issued a “barring notice” that prohibited the child’s
mother from entering the building. Did DCPS ban the child’s caregiver
in the nurse’s absence?
According to the article, DCPS has not responded to a request for a comment
on the situation. According to University Legal Services staff attorney
Victoria Thomas, DCPS’s refusal to provide so-called “Trained
Medication Employees” to administer diabetes care violates federal
and District law.
This case seems to highlight a dangerous situation in terms of DCPS practices.
The school system has to have a plan for nurses’ absences and previously
indicated it was training other school staff to deal with issues. However,
in a diabetic emergency, without the nurse, all school personnel can do
is call 911. That can pose a deadly delay for a child who needs insulin urgently.
According to the Post article, the civil rights office of the US Department
of Education has expanded its inquiry beyond DCPS to include the city’s
53 charter schools. If the office finds that DCPS or the charters did
violate the rights of diabetic children, it could require the schools
to sign a resolution agreement promising to comply with the law, or could
even withhold federal funds.
If any of the children are harmed by the unsafe situation they may have
claims against D.C.
About the author:
Catherine Bertram is board certified in civil trials and was recently nominated
as a Top Lawyer for Washingtonian Magazine. Ms. Bertram has over 20 years
of trial experience and is unique in that she was formerly the Director
of Risk Management for Georgetown University Hospital so she brings a
wealth of knowledge to her practice. She is a partner with the firm and
lives in the District. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by phone 202-822-1875 in her office in Washington, D.C.