By Len Feldman and Toni Trigueiro
CTA and organizations representing medical and school personnel are urging Gov. Jerry Brown to veto a CTA-opposed measure that would put the physical health of students with epilepsy at risk.
Senate Bill 161 by Sen. Robert Huff (R-Diamond Bar) would provide for the rectal administration by unlicensed, nonmedical school employees of the drug Diastat to students experiencing seizures.
Over the objections of educators, education support professionals, nurses, and others committed to the health and safety of students, SB 161 has cleared both houses of the Legislature and now awaits the governor’s decision.
Educators have been concerned about the danger posed to students by having teachers, other certificated personnel or education support professionals administer the drug. They feel it is unrealistic to assume that unlicensed, nonmedical school employees will receive sufficient training to distinguish between different types of seizures and recognize whether or not the seizure can be safely treated with Diastat. Inappropriate administration is not harmless; it can result in serious consequences such as respiratory depression.
There are no funds identified in SB 161 for training unlicensed, nonmedical “volunteers” on or off the job. Neither is there funding to keep volunteers on the job in the event of an epileptic seizure that occurs at the end of a contract day; the volunteer could be required to remain with the student for as long as four hours after the administration of Diastat. This bill puts unlicensed, nonmedical employees in the position of making medical assessments, distinguishing between seizure types, monitoring breathing and deciding when a child can go back to class after receiving Diastat.
Teachers, custodians, secretaries and bus drivers should not be put in this position, say educators, nor are they qualified to make medical assessments. SB 161 undermines existing protections for both students and school employees without ensuring that every child receives the necessary medical services and care students have a right to expect.