After seven years of litigation to the California Supreme Court, the decision was a critical victory for the estimated 14,000 California schoolchildrenwith type 1 diabetes.
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
February 1, 2014
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), representing the American Diabetes Association (ADA), and aided by co-counsel Reed Smith, LLP, enjoyed a decisive legal victory in American Nurses Association v. Torlakson (ANA), a landmark case involving diabetes care in California public schools. This victory is a major benchmark in our work to protect children with diabetes but the work is far from finished. Rather, it launched the next phase of implementation: advocacy training, technical assistance, and community education, as well as preparing to return to the courtroom if the decision is challenged.
The California State Supreme Court’s August 2013 unanimous decision made it clear that state law is not an obstacle to children with diabetes receiving the care they need to be healthy and medically safe at school. The Court agreed with plaintiffs’ interpretation of state law that allows school personnel, who are not nurses, to volunteer and be trained to help children with the insulin they need.
The decision was a critical victory for the estimated 14,000 California schoolchildren with type 1 diabetes and their ability to diabetes health-related services in school and during school–sponsored activities. The case came before the California Supreme Court after more than seven years of litigation, which began with a class action lawsuit against the California Department of Education that was resolved by a settlement agreement allowing trained non-medical school personnel to administer insulin when a nurse is not available. That provision of the settlement was challenged in the current lawsuit by several nursing organizations. The result is a legal precedent that reflects what so many people with diabetes know: Everyday lives can safely include tasks that are medical by label but routine in practice. This very broad decision covers many more settings than public schools in California — e.g., licensed care facilities, including child care, In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) workers, etc.
This case has implications for people living with other chronic conditions and/or disabilities, including those that are age–related. People with disabilities’ ability to access services such as administering medication through attendants or other caregivers is integral to living independently in the community or receiving affordable residential care elsewhere. The question of who can provide what type of service is crucial to the people who need those services, and it is an issue that links a diabetes-related case with the broader disability rights community.Tags: Disability Rights, Education, Health Care