Federal investigation into PWC Schools' handling of diabetic child

Feds probe schools' handling of diabetic kid

MANASSAS, VA (WUSA9) - A new civil rights investigation is underway into Prince William County Schools after a 11-year-old boy was hospitalized this week. Gavin Verhagen is diabetic and his family said the school refused to provide insulin on Tuesday when his insulin pod became dislodged. 

He's better now, but he may have to finish out the school year with a teacher at home because his mother is too afraid to send him back to school. She said the school's nurse was ordered to not replace his pod.

"They're going to kill him," said Joni Blue, who pulled her son Gavin out of Parkside Middle School after he wound up in the hospital on this week.

"I started feeling really bad,” Gavin said. “I don't want to go back to the hospital."

He has type one diabetes. On Tuesday, his insulin pod had become detached.

"His blood-sugar rose to over 600, normal is 80 to 160. He was crying, he was upset. He was screaming because of belly pain," Blue said.

He went for hours without any insulin. Blue said the school system told the nurse that she couldn’t replace his pod. 

"If she does, her job is on the line. Even though she is trained, willing, able to and has requested to do it," Blue said. 

This week, Blue filed her second complaint with the Office of Civil Rights which opened an investigation into Prince William County Schools on Thursday to looking into alleged retaliation against Gavin.

"It's not right. They should be able to change a pod. It's easy," Gavin said.

RELATED: Families accuse PWC schools of endangering diabetic children

In a matter of minutes, Blue trained a reporter how to replace Gavin's pump.

Registered nurse Dana Holliday-Hollifield recently quit her job with the Prince William County School system where she treated Gavin. She believed there's a lack of health care standards throughout Virginia schools. She's now pushing for the changes at the state level to require all schools have RNs and be adequately trained.

"I started a petition because I don't want to see a child die before we fix it," Holliday-Hollifield said.

She believes RN's should be able to follow doctor's orders, should be able to address the pod, and should have the training. 

Prince Williams County Schools said it safeguards the health of students with diabetes by following all Virginia requirements and by adhering closely to the doctor's directives.

In the interest of full disclosure, the father of the boy featured in our story is a WUSA9 employee in the sales department.


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