The American Diabetes Association, though, countered that the restriction hindered children's access to care because too few nurses work in California's 10,000 public schools. California has about 2,800 school nurses, averaging one for every 2,200 public school students, according to the ruling. Just 5% of the state's schools have a full-time school nurse—69% have a part-time nurse, and 26% have no nurse at all.
The rift goes back to a legal advisory the state issued in 2007. In order to settle a class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of families of diabetic students, the state told schools that state law allows trained employees to give pupils the injections. The ANA sued, arguing the advisory condoned the illegal practice of nursing.
And the legal battle may go on. ANA attorney Maureen Cones, who argued the case, said on Monday that her team could appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The ruling, she said, shifts an unfair responsibility to non-nurses, who must be trained to deliver the injections.
“You're going to have school secretaries seeing patients all day long and treating them with dangerous medications,” Cones said. She added that the ruling sets a troubling example that could be copied by cash-strapped school districts nationwide.
The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, which represented the ADA in court, released a statement lauding the decision.
“Today's decision is a critical victory for the estimated 14,000 California schoolchildren with diabetes and their right to diabetes health-related services in school and during school-sponsored activities,” said fund attorney Larisa Cummings. “We're equally excited to see the practical realities of living with a disability and/or chronic illness safeguarded by established law.”
Follow Ashok Selvam on Twitter: @MH_aselvam