K.W. should be in school.
The eight-year-old Herriman boy has Type 1 diabetes and requires multiple insulin injections a day. That is not a simple thing, but it’s not something that should have kept him out of Butterfield Canyon Elementary School all of last year.
The Jordan School District have told K.W.’s parents that they can’t send him to school because he’s too sick. They have put him on “home and hospital status,” meaning he can’t come to class. He spends his days working on math and reading workbooks by himself.
After a year of watching the youngster keeping his backpack ready for the day he can return, K.W.’s parents finally had to file a lawsuit against the district. (The suit identifies him only by those initials.)
The lawsuit describes both the challenges school employees have with such cases and the parents’ efforts to address those challenges. K.W.’s condition requires that he use diluted insulin. When he was in school before, a school nurse was supposed to give him the injections. The nurse forgot once, and another time almost gave him an improper dose. So his parents offered to load syringes that he can inject himself.
The school district is insisting that the diluted syringes come directly from a pharmacist and be labeled as such, which is only possible with undiluted doses. Kids with undiluted doses can walk around the same school with full school blessing. School officials have rejected the parents offer to label the doses.
Ultimately, the district’s justification looks weak. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that schools make reasonable accommodations to keep sick children in school if they’re not a risk to others, and K.W.’s diabetes poses no threat to his fellow students or teachers.
Even Utah state law and Jordan District policy specifically spell out that students are allowed to take insulin to school.
A lot is asked of Utah’s education system, and Jordan has one of the highest pupil-teacher ratios in the state. That makes individualizing harder. But Jordan’s decision makers should rise out of their bureaucratic rabbit hole to see this case for what it is: an eight-year-old boy who is eager for his education.
People with Type 1 diabetes can live normally. Average life span is about 10 years less than non-diabetics, and that difference shrinks with medication and good management.
K.W. has a long, productive life ahead of him, if he can get to class.