California Requires Schools to Help Diabetic Kids

"Right now there needs to be a change in consciousness for the parents of kids with diabetes; some of them know that their kids have rights," said Arlene Mayerson, an attorney with the Disability Rights Education and Defense fund, which represented the families.

"Some families go through the school system begging for services. But they should know that their kids have a right to be safe at school."

For Laura Wolfe, the consequences of not having a system in place can be dangerous. Her 5-year-old daughter Elizabeth was a kindergarten student in Upland, Calif.

"The rule for care at Elizabeth's school was, either mom comes and does it, or no one does it," Wolfe said. "For a young or newly diagnosed diabetics, that just doesn't work."

Elizabeth couldn't recognize the difference between high blood sugar and low blood sugar, according to Wolfe. One day when she was feeling shaky, she asked the teacher to check her blood sugar, and the teacher refused. Instead, she was given fast-acting sugar and sent outside.

"I showed up a little early that day to check on her, and found her outside on the playground, barely conscious," said Wolfe. "No adults were around -- there was no nurse, and the health technician had gone to lunch."

Though her daughter is now fine, Wolfe worries about other kids and said she is elated about the new ruling.

"It's not rocket science; all that is needed is for people to follow instructions and read a chart. Now, it's actually very clear that someone is going to be responsible for doing that," said Wolfe.

Jim Stone agrees that diabetes needs to be more in the spotlight.

"We tend to think of disabilities in terms of visible disabilities," he said. "But there are lots of kids with hidden disabilities, like diabetes or asthma or ADD, and they also deserve a free and appropriate public education."

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