A Larchmont couple is considering filing a federal lawsuit against the Mamaroneck Union Free School District,
alleging the district violated their son’s civil rights by refusing to administer his prescribed treatment for diabetes because it included daily parent involvement.
“He had a prescription on file and they refused to administer it,” said Sheri Pendernacht, a Rye Brook attorney who handles a range of cases involving diabetic children. “They should have been ready to treat the child.”
Since Sept. 20, the school has been administering the Hommocks sixth-grader’s treatment, which includes a daily insulin shot, after discussing the day’s dosage with the child’s parents, she said.
But that did not start, however, until after a weeks-long dispute during which the district allegedly refused to give the boy his shot if doing so meant consulting his parents first, Pendernacht said.
That parental input is a vital – and standard – part of diabetes treatment, as the amount of insulin a child should get (it usually is prescribed in dosages on a sliding scale) each day is largely dependent on the kid’s general health, activity level and diet during a particular period, she said. A diabetic child who does not receive proper care can experience seizures or a coma, possibly leading to brain damage.
“With diabetes and with insulin, no one prescription works for any one child every single day,” Pendernacht said, adding that the process worked well during the boy’s six years at Chatsworth Elementary School.
Debbie Manetta, the school district’s spokeswoman, said the district would not comment on this particular case to protect the child’s confidentiality. However, Manetta did say that the district is committed to meeting the individual needs – including medical ones – of all its students “to insure every student has a productive and safe experience in our schools.”
“We take great care to understand the individual medical needs of every child,” Manetta said.
School nurses treat diabetic children every year, she said, but the district first “must have a legal prescription.”
Pendernacht, however, said the district clearly violated the boy’s civil rights by refusing to administer his treatment while battling out the details with his parents, whose experience was so bad they are still considering filing the suit.
“It’s really important for the parents, the school nurse and the school district to work together to insure the child’s safety while the child is going to school,” she said.