Case of Mistaken Identity: Teacher Accused of Harassing Student Wearing an Insulin Pump

The West Boca Raton, Florida, school district has decided not to reprimand an assistant principal accused of harassing a student who was wearing an insulin pump, according to an April 24 South Florida Sun-Sentinel article.

In describing the March incident at Eagles Landing Middle School, school officials said that the educator, Nereyda Astiasaran-Perez, thought that an eighth-grader, Nikki Wagner, was wearing a beeper in the school’s cafeteria and asked Wagner to take it off. Beepers are not allowed at school.

Wagner explained that it was an insulin pump, at which point the educator “kept asking” what the device was, according to the school’s principal, Ira Margulies. Wagner then took the pump off, placed it on the table and ran out of the room. Once Astiasaran-Perez realized that it was a medical device, she contacted a police officer, who returned it to the student.

“The claim was that the assistant principal touched the child and took it off her, and she did not,” said district spokesperson Nat Harrington. “The assistant principal did not touch the child.”

Margulies stated that he was pleased with the district’s decision and that he plans to talk to his staff and prep them on how to handle such situations. “We still plan to make sure our teachers are aware of students’ health conditions,” he said.

The girl’s father, Jeff Wagner, however, said that he was “shocked” by the decision not to reprimand Astiasaran-Perez.

According to a March 22 Sun-Sentinel article, Nikki Wagner and a friend who witnessed the incident claim that Astiasaran-Perez yanked the pump, which was attached to the girl’s body with tubing and a needle, as she was taking it off.

“She was pulling on it,” Wagner insisted. “I felt it. It was bleeding.”

Wagner’s parents have issued complaints to both the school district and state officials about the incident. They note that they have worked hard to educate school officials about the special needs of children with type 1 diabetes. “We need to educate the educators,” says the girl’s mother, Debbi Wagner. “They don’t follow their own procedures.”

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