Park City schools to make changes after shortage of nurses found to be discriminatory

Posted at 9:20 PM, May 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-13 11:00:52-04

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah -- Parents in Park City say there is a school nursing shortage, and it could be the difference between life and death.

"It's a horrendous feeling when you think about anything that can happen, and it happens very quickly and there is nothing you can do, and knowing that nobody would be there," said Bridget Llewellyn.

Llewellyn said she's been called to Parley's Park Elementary more than a dozen times over the past year to give her 6-year-old daughter, Chloe, insulin because no one else could.

"Chloe was having a significant issue, and so I was getting phone calls or texts from her teacher saying, 'What do you think? What should I do, can you come?'" Llewellyn said.

Chloe is not alone. Wesley Sergent, 10, also has diabetes and attends Parley's Park. His mom is afraid to leave the school parking lot.

"Because if I get a call, 'oh there is no nurse today, Wesley is running low, oh what do we do,' well I'm going to drop everything and make sure I'm at school," Mom Sara Sergent said. "With a Type One diabetic, a child can go into a coma in less than 20 minutes and die."

Llewelyn says she complained for months, but her concerns were ignored by the district.

"This is their chosen profession, so you would think that they value children and want the best for them, so it is very puzzling," Llewelyn said.

The school district says when you compare Park City to other districts, they are among the best in the state when it comes to nurse/student ratios.

"Any time that we receive any concern, especially at our level, we immediately contact the school site and we begin working with our staff and we make contact with the parent," said Superintendent Ember Conley.

However, in an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, the district was found in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act when it comes to Chloe.

Their findings state, "We determined that the evidence is sufficient to conclude that the district discriminated against the student on the basis of disability."

"It wasn't malicious at all, but it really provided us an opportunity for us to look at our services and how we can improve," Conley said.

Conley said, starting next year, they have plans to increase the number of nurses in their district from four to seven. That means every school would have their own nurse.