Student Health

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For Students with Disabilities, Getting to Class is Tough

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UC Santa Cruz senior, Ariana Rojas, opens a door to a campus building. Rojas is the president of Disability Alliance, a student group pushing to get automatic door switches installed on doors throughout campus to make entrances like this one accessible to students with disabilities. (Ryder Diaz/KQED)

Editor’s Note: For students with disabilities, getting to class can be a hurdle, especially when the school campus spans dramatic elevation changes. As part of our first-person series called Vital Signs, this month we explore how the environment affects health. UC Santa Cruz senior, Ariana Rojas talks about her experience navigating her unique campus. A car accident when she was younger left her with arthritis and chronic pain that limit her ability to climb stairs and even to walk without pain.

By Ariana Rojas

Imagine a lot of buildings in the middle of the forest. And like the mountains, there’s uphills and downhills and those hills can get very steep.

Freshman year, I would force myself to get up in the morning. [I would say to myself,] ‘Go, let’s go. You can do it. We can walk up these hills.’

When I would reach the very end, I would be in terrible pain.

I couldn’t bear the idea of relying on the Disability Van Service on campus. It just wasn’t helping me out. At times, I would find myself having to wait an additional 15 minutes into my class. [I would think to myself,] ‘Okay, I’m late. I’m late.’ You don’t feel independent. Continue reading

In California, School Anti-Bullying Efforts Falling Short

The California state auditor faulted both local entities and the state's oversight (Photo: Getty Images)

A new report from the California state auditor faulted both local entities and the state’s oversight in anti-bullying programs. (Photo: Getty Images)

By Jane Meredith Adams, EdSource Today

Just as kids are heading back to classrooms, a new state audit has found that most schools do not track whether their anti-bullying programs have made campuses any safer and that schools are inconsistent in how they record and resolve bullying incidents.

The California Department of Education has been insufficient in both oversight and guidance, the audit said. It further noted that the department went four years without noticing that it was not monitoring schools to ensure they were addressing student complaints, as required by law. At the same time, funding has been cut for statewide surveys on student safety, making it more difficult to determine students’ experiences with bullying.

“The audit shows that passing laws isn’t enough. We need to implement them and ensure accountability at the district, county and statewide levels.”
On the plus side, the audit did find that the vast majority of California schools have anti-bullying programs in place and have provided staff training in how to prevent bullying, discrimination, harassment and intimidation.

Still, one advocate said the audit confirms that much remains to be done to reduce the high levels of bullying in California schools.

“The audit shows that passing laws isn’t enough –- we need to implement them and ensure accountability at the district, county and statewide levels,” said Jesse Melgar, with Equality California, a San Francisco-based advocacy group. “Now, California schools and the Department of Education have an opportunity to use the audit’s findings to review, update and enhance their policies to better protect our youth and ensure student success.” Continue reading

California Supreme Court: Trained School Employees May Administer Insulin

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

By KQED News Staff and Wires

SACRAMENTO — Trained school employees can administer insulin shots to diabetic students if a nurse is not available, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Monday.

The ruling reverses a lower court decision that said California law allows only licensed professionals to administer the shots.

“Sometimes [parents] have had to quit their job or jeopardize their employment because of the constant need to provide care when a school nurse wasn’t available.”
The Supreme Court ruled that “state law in effect leaves to each student’s physician, with parental consent, the question whether insulin may safely and appropriately be administered by unlicensed school personnel, and reflects the practical reality that most insulin administered outside of hospitals and other clinical settings is in fact administered by laypersons.”

The decision supports a 2007 agreement between the state Department of Education and the American Diabetes Association, which addressed a shortage of nurses to attend to all diabetic students by allowing trained teachers and administrators to give the shots.

That agreement settled a class-action lawsuit in federal court, alleging the state’s schools had failed to ensure diabetic students receive legally required health care services. Continue reading