School Districts Not Educating Educators About Diabetes

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Earline Edwards, RN, of Omaha, Neb. recently published a report called “Diabetes Care in the Schools: A Challenge for the Diabetes Educator.” Information in her report supports Cynthia Halvorsen’s contentions about the treatment her son has received in school.

The Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (Public Law 94-142) provides that all physically, developmentally, emotionally, and other health impaired children are entitled to free, appropriate public education. Diabetes is specifically classified as an “other health impaired” condition in this federal mandate. The law states that schools are obligated to “provide for specific health-related needs that would otherwise interfere with normal school participation.”

The law recognizes that one quarter to one third of a child’s time is spent in school and that many school personnel have contact with diabetic children but lack knowledge.

A Virginia study found that in 39% of the surveyed school systems, a school nurse was responsible for treating hypoglycemia. In 9.5% of the schools, the child was the primary person responsible for the treatment of hypos. Principals, teachers, secretaries, and cafeteria workers were also occasionally given responsibility when school nurses were not available.

Edwards questioned teachers from seven Michigan school districts about their diabetes knowledge.

“Results indicated that teachers have serious knowledge deficiencies related to diabetes. School districts do not routinely provide help to teachers of children with diabetes…The teachers did not feel they were adequately prepared to respond to diabetic emergencies.”

This research was presented at the 22nd Annual Meeting and Educational Program of the AADE in Boston, August 1995.

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