For nearly two decades, New York City students with diabetes were routinely denied field excursions and extracurricular activities. Their schools frequently failed to establish individualised plans for children in the timeframe needed by federal law. Most school personnel lacked the necessary training to keep a diabetic pupil safe, including if their blood sugar dropped to life-threatening levels.
A federal judge this week formally approved a class-action settlement requiring the city’s schools to reform their services for the city’s almost 2,000 children with diabetes, ensuring they are included in all activities and have access to sufficient education plans and staff who can keep them safe.
Section 504 is a federal law that forbids discrimination against people with disabilities in public institutions such as schools. Diabetes is one such limitation, as it is a medical condition that severely limits main life activities. It is one of the most frequent chronic conditions, affecting 283,000 children under the age of 20 in the United States, and its incidence is increasing.
The law requires schools to create plans for qualified students that outline what steps should be taken to guarantee the student’s medical safety, equitable access to educational opportunities, and fair treatment.