The American Diabetes Association has joined three pseudonymous minor plaintiffs in filing a proposed class action lawsuit over the New York City Department of Education’s alleged ongoing and systematic failure to provide appropriate care to at least 2,000 students with type 1 diabetes. The 47-page lawsuit claims the Department of Education (DOE) and its co-defendants—the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Office of School Health, Mayor Bill de Blasio, three city officials and the city itself—have consistently failed to have in place at the start of each school year services and staff trained to sufficiently monitor students’ blood glucose levels and to respond appropriately to hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.
“Schools are required to provide these students with a medically safe environment at school as well as a free appropriate public education (‘FAPE’) and equal access to all the programs and activities of that school,” the complaint reads. “Yet DOE’s policies, practices, and procedures related to diabetes care fail to meet these legally required standards.”
Filed in Manhattan federal court, the complaint argues the defendants have unfairly shifted the burden of providing medical care for students with type 1 diabetes to parents and guardians who are forced to report to schools, sometimes multiple times per day, to test blood sugar levels and administer insulin. Teachers, paraprofessionals, and nursing staff, the case states, are often inadequately trained to recognize and treat possibly life-threatening diabetes symptoms. Moreover, the lawsuit says the defendants have routinely failed to hold mandatorySection 504meetings and implement plans for how to provide proper services for students with disabilities before the start of each school year.
The lawsuit goes on to charge the defendants effectively “segregate and stigmatize” those with type 1 diabetes, as the alleged lack of adequately trained staff and monitoring and treatment procedures force affected students to leave class multiple times per day. The case argues that the defendants cause students to miss class without so much as considering a student’s individual circumstances and whether care should be provided in the classroom.
All told, the lawsuit alleges the defendants are responsible for a pattern of conduct that has resulted in the exclusion of students with type 1 diabetes from, among other opportunities, participation in field trips, before- and after-school activities, and school bus transportation.