From Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, USA:
I have a 12-year-old son who has had type 1 diabetes for three years. I was recently introduced to a mom who's 13-year-old son was just diagnosed two months ago. We have had some very in depth conversations and something she told me doesn't sit well with me. Her son is to go on a field trip this spring to an amusement park with his eighth grade class. He will only be four or five months into his diabetes journey. My friend, his mother, asked the school principal if she could chaperone this field trip because of her son's diabetes. The principal told her that only teachers are to be on this field trip and that no nurse is going. The principal, who himself has diabetes, stated the amusement park nurse would suffice if something goes wrong. My friend pleaded with him to let her go and he flippantly told her that her son would be fine. I think this is illegal, but I'm not sure. I would have thought they would welcome the mom to be nearby in case something were to go wrong. I'm a parent of a diabetic, too, and I just can't understand this. Please tell me know if there are laws to support my friend.
Please ask the parent to call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES if s/he wishes to receive assistance. Also, a wealth of information may be found on the ADA web site about School Discrimination.
Does this child have a Section 504 Plan or an IEP? A provision for field trips should be written into the plan to reflect a safe arrangement acceptable to parent and school. It is the school's legal obligation to provide trained personnel to accompany the child on the field trip. One option might be to let the parent come along. With that said, if there is limited room on the bus, and I suspect this may be the reason that only teachers are chaperones, then it may very well be a problem of logistics. Also, I am wondering if the child wants the parent to come along as many teenagers at this point prefer that parent did not as they just want to be like their classmates and having the parent come along may cause the child to feel different and uncomfortable.
If parent feels strongly about going, then one alternative might be to take her or his private car and drive to the site. Regardless, the school is obligated to provide a trained staff member on the bus and does not meet its legal obligation by relying upon the amusement park nurse. If the principal with diabetes has type 1 and has received child-specific training then this might be a viable option.
Original posting 18 Mar 2008
Posted to School and Daycare
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:10:16
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