Families accuse PWC Schools of endangering diabetic children

Family: Schools endangering diabetic children

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, VA (WUSA9) - A federal investigation found that the Prince William County School System did not discriminate against a child with diabetes. But another family came forward with similar complaints.  

Two families, three difficult schools, but very similar stories. Children with diabetes whose lives depend on insulin injections or pumps have run into brick walls. Refusals to administer insulin from the very people who are supposed to help them.

"They lied to me and told me everybody was trained," mother Joni Blue said.

Blue's 11-year-old son, Gavin Verhagen, has Type I diabetes.  He wears a pump which administers insulin throughout the day. One day last year at Signal Hill Elementary, he needed a pod change but his supply was missing.

"I could not get to him. It was about three hours away. I said, well you have to administer him insulin,” she said. “He's 300 right now, which means by the time that I could get to him, he could be in diabetic ketoacidosis, which would mean he would end up in the hospital.”

The nurse refused to give him an insulin shot. The principal called the department of social services which found the nurse neglectful and she was fired. But there have been other similar cases. 

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Gavin's friend, 10-year-old Diana Truax also has diabetes and wears an insulin pump. 

She said when her pump fell out at her school, Gainesville Elementary, the nurse refused to change it. 

"She knew how, she just didn't want to,” Truax said. “And the pump gives specific directions on how to do it. Very specific actually, and she still refused to change it."

Last year, Gavin had a second serious incident.

"I was in hallway eating a lollipop because I was low. And then a teacher came up said, 'Take it out,' and I said, ''no I can't,'" Gavin said.

The teacher grabbed the lollipop and pulled it out, chipping several of his front teeth. 

His mom filed a federal complaint with the office of civil rights, which identified two incidents in which Gavin did not receive insulin. But it concluded the school division resolved the violation. Blue said they still haven't.

"If the pump fails, the head of the nursing says they will not put it back in,” she said. “That's against federal law."

A spokesman for PWCS said he cannot comment on any specific case, but in general said that they do follow the law to safeguard the health of students with diabetes, and that they do work closely with parents.  

Gavin Verhagen's father is an employee in the Digital Sales Division at WUSA9.  


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