M.F. v. NYC Department of Education

Scroll to case documents Date Filed: 11/01/2018 Date Settled: 04/21/2023 Status:

In November 2018, DRA, the American Diabetes Association®, and Alan L. Yatvin of Weir Greenblatt Pierce LLP sued the New York City Department of Education (“DOE”) and other New York City agencies, alleging that these agencies systemically failed to ensure that students with diabetes could attend school safely and have access to the same educational opportunities as their peers.

This constituted a clear violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the New York City Human Rights Law. By law, the DOE is required to develop a diabetes-care plan for all students with diabetes. These plans include protocols for measuring a student’s blood sugar, administering insulin, and planning for emergencies—necessary accommodations for anyone with type I diabetes. But these care plans were rarely ready by the first week—or even first few months—of the school year. Even after the plans were in place, students continued to miss critical instructional time when they were unnecessarily removed from the classroom for diabetes-related care that could be provided in the classroom.

Frequently, the DOE refusds to extend these accommodations to after-school programs, field trips, and other academic enrichment opportunities, as the law requires. Their parents were often required to attend school or programs to provide care themselves.

Plaintiffs did not seek monetary damages. Rather, the lawsuit sought an immediate overhaul of the DOE’s systemic policies and practices governing the delivery of diabetes-related care to ensure that all students with diabetes receive appropriate care and can participate in all school programs.

In June 2019, Judge Nina Gershon granted the motion for class certification affecting nearly 2,000 students. A copy of the Notice of Class Certification is available below.

In January 2022, a federal Court ordered the City of New York hire a sufficient number of nurses to serve as a “float pool” to ensure that students can attend all field trips. With respect to bus transportation, the Court ordered Defendants to train all bus drivers and bus attendants in the treatment of hypoglycemia, including the administration of glucagon, to ensure that every bus has a trained adult capable of responding in an emergency, and may safely and consistently ride the bus.

In November 2022, a federal court preliminarily approved a landmark settlement that will ensure children with diabetes in NYC receive the care they need to fully participate in school and school-related activities. In April 2023, a federal court granted final approval for the settlement agreement.

Under the Settlement Agreement, Defendants will modify their policies, practices, and procedures related to: 1) planning to determine the needs of students with diabetes and how Defendants will meet those needs (called a “Section 504 Plan”); 2) providing care such that students with diabetes are not excluded or segregated from their classmates; and 3) training for staff and contractors (nurses, paraprofessionals, administrators, bus drivers and attendants, and teachers and other staff) and the provision of services during the school day and in afterschool activities. Read the Settlement Agreement.

These reforms include:

  • The development and adoption of a template plan for students with diabetes, based on the American Diabetes Association Model 504 Plan, to guide schools in preparing to meet the needs of students with diabetes;
  • Commitment that accommodations necessary to meet the needs of these students cannot be denied based on resources or available funding;
  • New timelines related to how school staff will plan to meet the needs of students with diabetes, including meetings to develop Section 504 plans and ensuring students can attend school with all accommodations in place on their first day of school;
  • Robust new training for nurses, paraprofessionals, teachers, administrators, bus drivers and attendants, and other school staff on how to care for a student with diabetes; and
  • Changes to ensure appropriately trained staff are available so that students with diabetes can attend field trips, eat with their classmates, ride the bus, and participate in sports and afterschool activities, alongside other children.

The Settlement also provides for robust monitoring and reporting and the appointment of the American Diabetes Association as the Joint Expert, and Peter D. Blanck, Ph.D., J.D., as External Monitor, for a term of three school years. The settlement will apply to a class of students that have diabetes and are now or will in the future be enrolled in New York City Department of Education public schools.

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