MARSHALL COUNTY, KY — A girl who is a type 1 diabetic says a school nurse refused to see her when her blood sugar level was low, which can be dangerous.
Her parents have filed a disability discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. The DOE Office of Civil Rights is now investigating North Marshall Middle School regarding the incident.
13-year-old Brooklyn Bennett has type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune condition that affects the way her body handles insulin. She constantly checks her blood sugar.
On May 23, she was in class when she started feeling shaky and weak. Those are symptoms of low blood sugar.
She asked to see the nurse, but the nurse told her to wait. That's when she texted her mom, Laura.
"She said 'Mom, please get to the school. I'm weak with sugar low,'" Laura Bennett said, reading the texts her daughter sent that day.
Her teacher called the nurse, but the nurse said she wanted Brooklyn to wait until her scheduled check-up time, which would've been at least 20 minutes later.
Brooklyn started crying when she talked about that day. "I had nothing to do but get out my phone from my backpack and text mom," she said. "It was just scary for me. I told my mom to get here, because I was scared, too."
Brooklyn, her mom, and the nurse are able to track her blood sugar through an app and a machine that's connected to her stomach, but it can sometimes get the number wrong. Her mom said they need to pay attention to her symptoms.
The app read 75 that day, a low but not dangerous level.
"Don't matter what that said. She's a human. That's a machine," Laura Bennett explained. "If this human is telling you something is wrong, something is wrong. You don't tell her to wait."
Dr. Bobby Learch isn't Brooklyn's doctor, but he treats patients at Baptist Health Paducah with type 1 diabetes.
"The real danger lies in falling even lower than that," said Learch. "If you're not able to reverse that process and the body isn't able to produce its own sugar, then that's when the danger comes in dropping even lower."
Laura said that can lead to passing out or seizures for her daughter.
Laura went to the school and removed Brooklyn from North Marshall Midddle School. They filed the complaint a week later.
Director of Special Education Stephen Flatt said certain laws prohibit him from talking specifically about a student or a case, but he is aware of the investigation.
"In an ideal world, we would like that if the child had symptoms, they would be able to see the nurse," Flatt said. "There's certain situations where the nurse is monitoring what is going on and they may have a handle on it."
Brooklyn's dad, Warren Bennett, wants action.
"We have to bring knowledge to these principals and teachers and say 'hey, you can't do this crap. This has got to be dealt with," Bennett said.
I filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Office of Civil Rights for paperwork connected with this case. I'm still waiting to receive those documents.
The parents said they want the people involved in this situation fired and additional training for school employees.
The Marshall County Schools superintendent said the nurse involved in this complaint no longer works at North Marshall Middle School.