Diabetes - Unique Problems and Legal Protections in School

Diabetes is recognized as a disability by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Students with diabetes are also specifically protected by Florida law. These state and federal laws outline the rights and responsibilities of students with diabetes and their parents.

Florida Statute 1002.20(3)(j) states that a school district may not refuse to assign a student to a school on the basis that the student has diabetes, that the school does not have a full-time nurse, or that the school does not have trained diabetes personnel.

Florida law further states that a student with diabetes (with parent and physician authorization), may carry diabetic supplies and equipment. Students may also manage and care for their diabetes while in school, participating in school-sponsored activities, or in transit, to the extent authorized by the parent, physician and State Board of Education rule.

Florida law governs how non-medical personnel may assist. According to the Florida Department of Health, Florida's Nurse Practice Act allows nurses to train and delegate insulin administration to unlicensed school personnel where the person has demonstrated competence in blood glucose monitoring and insulin administration. To read further on this topic, visit the Links tab to access the Department of Health's Nursing Guidelines for the Delegation of Care for Students with Diabetes in Florida Schools from the Department of Health's School Health Services Program website.

Parents do not have the right to insist that insulin administration be performed by a nurse at school, but they do have the right to require that it be performed by an appropriately trained adult.

In summary, Florida law:

Parents and self advocates should be familiar with their rights and responsibilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. A student with diabetes must have at least a 504 Plan. If the student is also eligible for special education under IDEA, they must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and the diabetes issues may be covered by that plan instead.

  • forbids school districts from transferring children with diabetes due to diabetes or a need for diabetes services.
  • places responsibility on school districts to find and train sufficient staff to meet the needs of students with diabetes.
  • allows unlicensed personnel to be trained to administer emergency injectable medication, such as glucagon.

Written Authorization

The written authorization from the parent and doctor needed to allow a student to carry diabetic supplies and equipment and perform activities without assistance must identify the supplies and equipment and describe the activities. These activities may include performing blood-glucose level checks, urine ketone tests, administering insulin through the delivery system used by the student, and treating hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.