K.C., et al. vs. Jack O’Connell, et al.

Four elementary students, along with the American Diabetes Association (the ADA), filed a civil rights complaint in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California seeking class action relief against the California Department of Education (CDE) and two school districts. The complaint alleged that the state and the districts violated Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in their failure to ensure the health and safety of students with diabetes by providing insulin administration, blood glucose monitoring, proper care in emergency situations, and other appropriate diabetes care.

Under an August 2007 Settlement Agreement, each California local education agency (LEA) will manage the delivery of diabetes care for students whose Individualized Education Programs or 504 Plans require administration of insulin and related services during the school day. The CDE issued a Legal Advisory to all California school districts providing guidance on health care services for students with diabetes and outlining the rights of these students under federal anti-discrimination and special education statutes.

In October 2007, four nurse organizations sued CDE to overturn part of the Legal Advisory, and in November 2008, a trial court judge ruled in their favor. Left unchallenged, the court ruling would have required CDE to change the Legal Advisory to remove any references to unlicensed personnel administering insulin.

Following the court ruling, the American Diabetes Association and CDE filed an appeal of the court ruling. In April 2009, the California court of appeals ruled that the trial court’s ruling is “stayed” during the appeal. While not a decision on the merits of the case, it does mean that the trial court’s ruling has no effect until the appeal is decided. The  original Legal Advisory remains in place, and California school districts are permitted to train unlicensed personnel to administer insulin under the circumstances discussed in the Legal Advisory.

The Court issued a unanimous ruling in favor of the American Diabetes Association on August 12, 2013. See American Nurses Association v. Torlakson