David Swanson is 21, a non-verbal Autistic, and to further complicate the situation, a Type I Diabetic.
When David turned up to school in Sutter County California, both he and his specialised private nurse were turned away by school officials, which has started a crusade by his mother, Heather Ball Houston, against Sutter County Superintendent of Schools (SCSOS) for breach of her son’s civil rights.
Stating on her very first post on her Facebook page ‘Don’t discriminate against David’ on July 22, Ms Houston writes:
“Because of his need for 1:1 diabetic care and assistive technology to speak. They won’t allow me to provide that [one to one nursing] care although the CA Supreme Court says I can. They refuse to accommodate his private duty nurse. They refuse to let him go to school with his brittle diabetes, Autism, and apraxia and refuse to accommodate his unique medical needs.”
David requires one to one attention for communication, for which he uses an iPad, and continuous checks for levels of insulin in his blood. Ms Houston hires a nurse who is trained to work one to one with David, and who understands his modes of communication. The nurse has been working with David for five years and is an ex-employee of SCSOS administrative office.
Ms Houston refused to sign the school medical form, which would allow the school nurse to directly communicate with David’s doctor, and allow the school to care for him in loco parentis. But the state of California dictates that private nurses may also administer insulin and test individuals for blood sugar levels on school the California Department of Education’s rules which are published on their website, also shows that private nurses can administer insulin in school hours. The school is situated in portacabins directly outside the SCOS buildings.
Superintendent Bill Cornelius said he can’t comment on Swanson’s situation because of confidentiality rules. He said the safety and well-being of students is a top priority and denies any discrimination.
Ms Houston, in an interview with news 10 said:
“Their job as an educator, they should care about his unique needs, his education.”