Uhm……Planning a Discussion About your Child’s Diabetes at School?????

airplane bombsI have seen, over the past few months, an attitude that I would like to discuss.  It is the attitude about your rights in school.   No matter where you live (and our overseas friends, I invite you to enlighten us as to what happens where you are) there are rights that are due your children.

There are so many aspects to this that I am not to going to list all of the scenarios except to say the following: if you went into a store and they charged you the wrong price for something, you would inform them…..right?   Strong, firm, polite, and steady……”excuse me, but you charged me the wrong price for this item, look here; this is the price as it is stated.”

And yet, the worry, fear, and absolute stress that I have noticed over the years at addressing something so crucial boggles my mind.  I get it.  I really do.  I have been there with two kids.  All schools are different and some schools are completely cooperative and others are not.  But the feeling that you are about to go to war before even arriving at your school; the feeling that you have to dodge the plane dropping bombs on you; well we need to change that aspect.

Know that fact going into the discussion.  Do your homework.  If you do not know what the rights are for your child going into the meeting; you are not ready for the meeting.  I am not an attorney.  Jill is not an attorney.  But I know this, we were ready.  Between the two of us we spent hours (that we did not have) familiarizing ourselves with not just what we wanted; but what was expected, and what was our course of action should be hit with a road block.

Everyone was sitting around a table.  A sheet with bullet-points was distributed “This”, we were told, “….is your child’s 504 plan”.  One sheet of paper.  They explained and asked us to sign the bottom and we would be done. “What happens during a lock down or fire drill?” “What is the plan on field trips?” “What is the district stance on help in the classroom?”

And when we got the answer we expected; “Well common sense will prevail at that time.” My answer; “To all of you I ask, if your child’s life was on the line would you rely on common sense over a detailed plan?  Would it not make better sense to have as much as we could possible think of so there was/is no guessing, but rather, a plan?”

When I was answer, ‘….but of course…..’  I reached down and pulled out 9 binders that were pages and pages.  “I would like to go over these thoughts; we can do it quickly and I would like your opinion.  Because these plans are as much for what is not common as well as for everyday occurrences.”

We went over it item by item.  They stated they would need to run ‘our plan’ by the attorney for the district—-at the end of the day; two bullet points were requested to be removed.  When discussed, we agreed.  Our plan was in place.

Now hear me clearly here, I am no brighter than you.  My wife and I are not hard-nosed; stick our feet in the sand, our-way-or-the-highway type people; we are just like you.


Nothing more, nothing less.  But we knew going in that if we were only going to ‘guess’ what our options were, we would be eaten alive and spit out into the wind.  We did our homework.  We were very polite.  We had answers when there were questions.  What we were; was READY.

There is always the unknown factor, and I have talked to tons of parents over the years and there are always exceptions but the majority who had the best outcomes were those who went in with their ‘diabetes arsenal of knowledge’ full to the brim.

The attitude that wins is not ‘wish me luck I have a meeting at the school tomorrow’….the attitude that wins 9 out of 10 times is ‘I sure hope they are as prepared as we are at the meeting tomorrow.”

School personnel have hundreds of kids to think about with hundreds of issues.  They DO NOT know all there is to know about YOUR CHILD.   Our job is to help them in the process.  Again, I KNOW there are always exceptions and some people face real difficulties.  One person told me that I had no idea how tough they had it.  I listened and when she told me of her discussions with the school and how she reminded them that she paid their salaries; well I knew exactly how that meeting really went.

My point; understanding there are obstacles, road blocks and hurdles to mount, be as informed and as educated as you can when you enter the school and you will end up (in most cases) better than just relying on the school to tell you what they will do.

The item that was not priced correctly——how much more is your child’s well-being worth in comparison?

I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’


Diabetes Jeopardy Answer #19 for D-Month: When it Comes to Advocacy at Schools, One Mom Stands Alone in Her Efforts…..

Crystal Jackson…….and the answer is, who is Crystal Jackson.

Clearly Crystal is part of a great team effort at the American Diabetes Association’s constant battles to protect the rights of people with diabetes in the work place, at school and in many other arenas.  As a mom to a child with T1, Crystal’s efforts are monumental to make sure that no injustice is left behind and she works tirelessly at it.  This soft-spoken mom is a lion in her efforts and she is THE authority to all of us parents who seek information about school-place injustices and procedures.

She not only ‘does her job’ but will lecture/help advocate from large auditoriums of people down to a one-on-one conversation to help solve the problem.  It is clear to many people who, when you say 504 plan, Crystal Jackson’s face appears in your mind.  When you say ‘checking blood sugar or glucagon in schools’; Crystal’s face appears again.  If there was an injustice at any school in the nation need resolution, you can bet that Crystal Jackson was part of the answer.

To be clear, she is the first one to say that it is a team effort from individuals who step-up to her colleagues at the ADA; and no one would argue that point as the ADA houses lawyers and advocates for the disabled across the board in a concentrated unified effort to help those in need; but in the diabetes community when a parent asks for help, the name Crystal Jackson is the name given.

Her Bio from the ADA:
Manager of Legal Advocacy at the American Diabetes Association’s National Office in Alexandria, Virginia, and a parent of a child with diabetes. Crystal, a former litigation paralegal, is a long-time ADA volunteer and joined ADA’s legal advocacy staff in 1999 after she successfully lobbied the Virginia General Assembly for the passage of school diabetes care legislation that has resulted in improved standards of care for students with diabetes. Advocating on behalf of her daughter, Crystal achieved a model OCR resolution agreement for the care of student’s with diabetes in the Loudoun County (VA) School District.

Crystal has contributed to many diabetes publications including the National Diabetes Education Program’s school guide

Helping the Student with Diabetes Succeed: A Guide for School Personnel and is a frequent guest speaker at nationwide family diabetes conferences and camps. Crystal is a member the Virginia Diabetes Council.

For Diabetes Awareness Month:
This month, I will be highlighting someone in the diabetes community.  They may be people you know, or might not know, but they give of themselves to make this world, our world, with diabetes a special place.   I will not get to everyone this month, but it is my hope that perhaps you can be introduced to some of those you may not know.

I’m certainly not the definitive on who should be included….you are.  If you think I should include someone, shoot me an email at tkarlya@drif.org and I will do what I can to include that person as well.  Welcome to diabetes awareness month.

I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.