I send my son to school with the confidence he is safe at all times. I have no idea what it feels like to be a teenager in a classroom today. Even less, I can't begin to imagine what it must feel like to have Type 1 Diabetes and go to school daily with so many things happening in your body and mind.

My heart is broken but I am also outraged when I see the careless and cold attitude of many school nurses in schools today. There are so many that are dedicated and take their profession to heart like a calling from heaven. Others, I don't know what made them become nurses because they checked their hearts at the front door the moment they took their first course.

Yes, I am being harsh. You see, my son's life is important and when someone thinks mistreating my child is fine and without consequences, I can't sit back. My child has enough baggage every day for any school nurse to feel permission to behave unprofessionally at any moment.

What can parents do when school nurses are insensitive, uncooperative, rude, and hurtful to our children.
I've learned that loving people can make the difference. I tried to win this nurse but she was too hung up in her rude and angry world and gave me the cold shoulder. So, after one more chance, I reported her. I didn't just go up to the school to file a complaint, I emailed every Diabetes Advocate and Help site I found, and I emailed and contacted the NYS Health Department for the Department of Education. It has to be done. We cannot wait til we get a phone call that our child has been taken to the hospital because a trained nurse was not willing to provide expected services for our child.

We send our children with such abandonment and trust in these medical caretakers. What's going on?
If my child has a seizure in the hallway, alone, what story will you as a nurse make up to cover your behind? Lies. I will be given lies because my son will not be able to defend himself. What excuse do you have to speak so poorly to a child that is already feeling sick? None. You behave that way because there is no hidden camera on you to force you to show humanity and decency.

I am extremely grateful for the way the administrators and supervisors I contacted have taken my son's situation into their hands. They've visited the school, worked on providing needed training and help for the school nurse, and kept constant contact with me. Unfortunately, the school nurse's heart and mind were not changed and today I made the last call. Now she will face the possibility of losing her job or being placed in another school. This was never my desire or intent. But my son needs the best care when I am not there for him. School nurses need a lot more than medical training. They need skills of the heart.

Enjoy more blogs: http://diabeticdiarymom.blogspot.com/

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Comment by Brunetta on January 10, 2014 at 3:44am

You are being a strong, caring advocate for your child. That is the best for him. There is NO excuse for anyone to treat another individual, particularly a child with a chronic illness, with anything less than compassion, competence, and caring. I worked in public schools for 33 years; and the grand majority of the school nurses with whom I worked possessed ALL of those traits, and then some.They considered their job, regardless of the heavy demands and tight, sometimes conflicting schedules, as a both a career and a "calling".
Those nurses that do not feel that way, and act as you have described, should be weeded out. As Malcolm X said, "By Any Means Necessary". Not an advocate of violence was he, nor am I. Just promote being Thorough. That YOU are, MOM.

God Bless,
Brunetta

Comment by Lorraine on January 10, 2014 at 5:29am

We had an unfortunate experience last year too. The difference, however, was that administration was not helpful and just as deceitful and malicious. It was a long, hard, expensive year. The nurse was removed. Caleb is having a fabulous year this year.

Comment by Mom of a Winner on January 10, 2014 at 5:30am

Thank you Brunetta. It's been months of trying to be patient and since I complained, now she ignores my son and treats him even worse. Today an advocate it going to the school and she may be replaced. I don't mean anyone harm in regards to their job, but do your job right, that's what I say. I too have worked in the public schools for many years and know that many school nurses seem to be bothered when it comes to taking care of anything more than a cold. Well, praying the Lord intervenes this morning. Blesseings your way.

Comment by rick the "Blogabetic" on January 11, 2014 at 12:41pm

I have hired many school nurses, and honestly I have hired some wonderful ones and some awful ones. So here is my perspective for what it is worth. First school nurses are the lowest of the paid professionals in almost every school. While experienced teachers make 40-70,000 per year, a nurse is lucky to make $35,000 per year. The old saying, you get what you pay for is never truer.

Second, almost without question they are the least of the professionals in a school. Think of principals at the top of the heap and the custodian at the bottom, nurses are pretty close to part time secretaries. It is because schools essentially are an educational institution that does health care. Also, to be clear nurses are almost never in their profession at the top of the professional ladder. Think of doctors to lead nurses to floor nurse to dietary in a hospital. It is a profession without much recognition. That makes it difficult to get good folks to start with.

Finally, nurses usually come in three varieties. The kind I used to love to get retired nurses who want to stay in the profession. Nurses with children who like the school schedule are also good. Then those I disliked hiring who are trying to make a career. The third type is almost always the worst.

I do suggest an alternative and in my uniformed opinion there may be a better way to go, Changes are you have a 504 plan in place. Chances are it is fairly well detailed, but if you want to get the attention of the school, I mean the real attention of the school call a 504 meeting and refuse to sign it until you are convinced every detail is covered and every ounce of meaningful dialog is offered. This may take 2-5 meetings and i have seen them go to 10. If you do not get everything you want and i mean everything then do not sign it and file an appeal to the school department of ed.

Yes that is being tough. But it is way easier than calling advocates etc. In fact if you want do both. It will not hurt. My only point is that it might help to go the 504 plan route. In my business we call such moms many name’s none I cannot type here. But, and this is the truth, the best name I came to call them was successful. It is odd how things work out.

Any way I do appreciate your issue, I really do. No one was more sympathetic to moms and dads of diabetics than I. But, and this is also part of the issue. Be sure you are getting 100% of the story. I will tell on myself. When I was dx'd in 1974 I went to school as a senior and did not tell a soul. Least of which the school nurse. They found me walking aimlessly in the hallway and they were less than sympathetic to my protests about being a type 1. Well when I got home my mom asked if I gave the doctor note to the school nurse. Well of course I had. The come to Ricky meeting occurred in the principal office, where it was discovered the note was in my locker safely and snugly placed out of view. Let’s say it was not a pleasant come to Ricky meeting. I say this to caution that when adults meet face to face problems tend to be better resolved.

Let’s just say it was not my first or as it happened, my last come to Ricky meeting. Hey, I was a perfect child. Well ok, I was a child. Well ok, I was independent, ok look I was a PITA kid. This was my second thought when a person came to school so upset about something like this was, me, and my let’s call it independent streak. I also caution parents who would listen, to talk with the adults at the school (principal) first that way at least you tend to blow the whistle on the nurse and give the principal a chance to work it out. I am sure this has been done. However if that did not work I would go the 504 route.

The voice of the uniformed, spoken on an ipad. LOL

Rick

Please feel free to ignore my comments and remember I do not know the particulars and i was a school administrator for 15 years. That means that I take a bit of school side thinking to my answer. But if you want to really make a difference? Start complaining about nurse salary and prestige, there is way too little of both in 95% of schools in our country today

Comment by rick the "Blogabetic" on January 11, 2014 at 12:57pm

Oh and when I say I was a PITA kid, I learned later kids are rarely malicious when they do not tell the whole truth for some reason. Often they were being kids, growing up testing limits, seeing what works and what does not. School is a social experiment with 6 to 18 years old. The fact a kid tests this or that just means they are being a kid. There are lines of course. But like in my social experiment, withholding information form a school nurse, my mistake was born by me not someone else. Luckily my mom saw it for what it was, an opportunity to teach me how to be responsible about diabetes. Did I get in trouble, yes I did, was it the end of the world for me? Absolutely not. i like to think it made me a better person and diabetic and less self aware when I got to college and had to carry juice boxes around. In the end it was a good lesson. But yes it came at my expense and that was positive.

Of course I have no way to know if your son might be having some growing pains. It sounds like he is not. But be open to the idea he might share some of the responsibility and if he does make it a teachable moment. If not now, then sometime it will happen in the future. in fact you want it to happen. Kids learn by testing and for a diabetic who will someday care 100% for himself, it is better to test at a young age, then at a frat party. The consequences are just tamer in school than Frat parties.

Comment by Lorraine on January 11, 2014 at 1:02pm

Rick - I appreciate your perspective as an educator. As a practice, we do not sign our son's 504 plan. It's my understanding that a signature is not needed for it to be in effect. Having worked with the Office of Civil Rights on our issue of non-compliance last year, lack of signature was never an issue. The plan was created by the district and we did not need to agree to it. In fact, there are three outstanding issues that our school district unilaterally removed without our consent for the current year's plan - points discussed at a 504 meeting that were agreed upon and then subsequently removed. I have contacted the top members of administration on these points in writing, and have been ignored - repeatedly. It's a horrific experience to go through this kind of thing.

As far as the compensation of school nurses and where they fall in the hierarchy - that's unfortunate. However, for us. all we need is someone who cares and is willing to do their job to earn their pay - regardless of what it is. I guess there is some correlation between the amount a person cares and their compensation plan. but it's all about a moral compass. I was astounded by the absence of it in all levels of administration, regardless of their salary. Not one person cared about what was best for my son. Their interests were all self-preservation.

Comment by rick the "Blogabetic" on January 11, 2014 at 6:50pm

Yes it is true that in the absence of a parental signature, the district should impose its perspective on the issue. However, at least in Indiana, when that occurs the parent may and most do advance the issue to the state department of education for adjudication. i have set in a few of those and they are not pleasant for the school.

i can honestly say i have always worked with school special education administrators who are caring and who seek compromise up to the point where it is disruptive to other students. I can honestly also say, I have never seen the school totally win a 504 issue that gets to the state level. usually it it is compromise.

now having said all of that. the truth is there are school districts out there who badger, mistreat and abuse kids and parents who dare disagree with the schools 504 position. I have only worked with two school districts and both of those had kids filtering into them with special needs because they were well treated.

In cases where a district (in my state we call them corporations) are abusive to students and parents, what usually occurs is that parents leave, or they often live miserable lives, stuffed in an untenable situation. In those cases, I woudl get a lawyer and lay the district low with litigation. Just me.

I feel awful for kids and parents in rotten situations and yes the fault in that case, is with the district administrators especially the special education administrator or co-op administrator.

I am sorry you are having such a tough go. as i said I was fortunate that each district i worked the needs of kids was placed above the needs off adults. I wish more folks had the chance to have directors like i worked with. For me at least, it kept me out of most diabetic issues unless things really got way out of hand.

Comment by Lorraine on January 12, 2014 at 8:23am

Our tough go is for the most part past tense. We retained a lawyer. We forked over substantial money for one. The nurse was removed. It was horrific. And yes, we were bullied in hopes that we would go away or just accept it. We didn't. Delivering excessive insulin to our son causing hypoglycemia was not something we could accept. The passive aggressive behavior we are currently getting from the district is small potatoes compared to the hell we went through last year. Despite upper administration ignoring us, the current school nurse and Caleb's teacher have done everything we have asked, whether it's in the 504 plan or not. We ask for very, very little, by the way. Which is what makes our past difficulty all the more illogical and upsetting.

Going back to the signature, I don't have the impression lack of parent signature means the district gets to impose their views. It's just my understanding from working with the ADA that the point of the 504 plan is to have a document that clearly states the accommodations that the district will provide - the district is accountable to follow through on what is in it. A parent signature really doesn't mean anything and withholding it is not leverage as a result, nor has it been, in my experience. We've not signed it, and have stated it is not consistent with what we discussed at our meeting, asked that the agreed upon items be put back in, and we've just flat out been ignored. No one cares that we do not agree with the plan.

Comment by Mom of a Winner on January 14, 2014 at 7:39am

Dear Rick, I love hearing from you because you shed light as to the direction I should be taking. I can tell you that more has happened and the Health Dept has helped tremendously as has the school administration. The nurse has lied many times but I tell my son not to worry because the adults around her are listening to her as well. Thank God for that because she was caught in lies by the very people who are over her. Yes, it's sad they don't get paid what they should but many times they only have a few kids to care for. In my son's school there are only five children with health needs, three diabetic and the other two I'm not sure. So, apart from daily kids with colds or just wanting to go home they need to know that they will be held responsible and accountable if a child dies under their care or ends up being hospitalized because she wasn't in the mood that day to listen. I'm not sure why you wrote to ignore your comments, as I find your words encouraging and a great blessing! I look forward to your advice always and know you speak from experience and that's the voice I want to hear from. Know that I am always ready to listen and learn because I am still learning. Thank you for sharing so much Mr. Rick. I pray blessings over your life and hope you are always here for all of us on this site, and for my son, Jacob and I.

Comment by Mom of a Winner on January 14, 2014 at 7:44am

Lorraine, I hear you loud and clear and we are most definitely on the same page. The school nurse has been put through skills training and was found to know what she needs to know about diabetes. A meeting took place to explain to her the danger she was placing herself in by poorly treating my son. She did call two days ago to apologize. She lied on the phone and I am sure the supervisor was next to her telling her what to tell me. It was very robotic and cold. But, I have this to say. She asked for a new start and that is an answer to prayer. I don't want anyone fired in times like today and I am fine with giving another chance because we all mess up. But, my son's health is delicate and you can't go to work with an attitude or knowing you will get chances to keep being unprofessional. So, I am taking this as answered prayer and becoming more visible and louder in my son's school. I am sorry you had to get a lawyer. I was wondering if I'd come to that but the people sent to help me have been awesome to now. You keep fighting for your child. The school will see you're not laying bak and they will have to take responsibiltity for your child, no matter what.

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