Attorneys for the families of several minor children in Connecticut have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene and overturn a 2-month-old rule change that prohibits parents’ input on the dosage of insulin administered to children with Type 1 diabetes during the school day.
The Connecticut lawyers filed a complaint with the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Oct. 29 under the Americans With Disabilities Act, on behalf of several minor children diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
Jonathan Chappell, who is representing the minor children, filed the complaint in New Haven against the Connecticut Departments of Public Health and Education.
The new guidelines, Chappell told the Connecticut Law Tribune Monday, went into effect at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year. But omitting parental input, as school nurses did last school year, could be dangerous, said Chappell, of Farmington-based Feldman, Perlstein & Greene.
“You can administer a certain dose of insulin to a child on Monday and a different dose on Tuesday,” said Chappell, who also has Type 1 diabetes. He noted that 6 percent to 8 percent of the student population in the state, or several thousand children, have the ailment.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that prevents the human body from properly using food to produce energy. It affects the body’s ability to produce or use insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas that transports glucose through the bloodstream to the body’s cells.
The complaint says that everyone with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin to avoid serious short- and long-term health problems.
“If, for example, you are exercising or the temperature is hot, it could affect the amount of insulin you need to have administered,” Chappell said. While many older students can administer insulin on their own, younger students need the guidance of school nurses, he said.
On average, Chappell said, students are administered insulin two to three times per day on a typical school day.
Before the current school year, the complaint said, a licensed provider would issue a medical order for the dosage of insulin. The complaint says a child’s parent or guardian was able to provide input to the school nurses, who could then “modify the dosage administered in circumstances deemed appropriate by such licensed provider.”
The new guidelines, Chappell said, violate the ADA, and supersedes the state’s Nurse Practice Act.
The complaint was mailed to Ndidi Moses, civil rights coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Civil Division, in New Haven. Speaking on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, spokesman Tom Carson said there would be no comment.
Maura Downes, director of communications for the state Department of Public Health, said Monday, “We haven’t seen the complaint yet. But the DPH has nothing to do with the policy.”
Peter Yazbak, director of communications for the state Department of Education, told the Connecticut Law Tribune Monday that the people he needed to get comment from were not in the office.
Chappell said he’s confident that the Justice Department, in consultation with its branch in Connecticut, will change the current policy, as happened in another state.
“New York tried to do it and failed,” Chappell said. “The DOJ found that in New York, the ADA pre-empted that state’s Nurse Practice Act. It was discontinued in New York and they came to a compromise. I’m confident the same thing will happen in Connecticut.”