Three-year-old Micaiah Ardianto, who has type 1 diabetes, attended a local Head Start program in Yamhill County, Oregon. The school had a medical care policy that they felt did not allow them to care for his diabetes. This meant that Micaiah could not attend school without a parent there to do so.
Micaiah Ardianto’s mother, Breeayn, works in the special education field, so she understood the laws that protected students in similar situations. She thought that something didn’t seem fair.
Micaiah’s parents tried to work with the school to change the policy. For almost three, frustrating months they shared information with the school about Micaiah’s legal rights. Diabetes is considered a disability under federal law, and the school administration did not understand what that meant. Under the law, the school needed to care for Micaiah’s diabetes and could not require a parent to be there. But, the school administrators would still not budge.
So, Breeayn contacted the American Diabetes Association. She spoke with one of the Association’s Legal Advocates, as well as staff from its Portland office, and became better informed. Then she contacted the Head Start regional office in Seattle.
Staff in the Seattle Head Start office apologized for what happened at Micaiah’s school. They knew that the law was on his side. So, the regional office worked with the local school, and within a short period of time the unfair policy was changed. The school was ready to care for Micaiah and he was able to return.
Breeayn thinks this happened to her family for a reason. In advocating for her son’s rights, the medical care policy was changed for ALL Head Start schools in Yamhill County. Students with all medical needs now have the opportunity to attend county schools and be kept safe and healthy.
“Everyone at the American Diabetes Association was amazing. From your nurse, who was our first point of contact, to your legal team—everyone I spoke with gave me the confidence to fight for what was right. It was a hard battle, but I hope our story will help others who struggle with similar issues in the future,” says Breeayn.
Breeayn feels so strongly about wanting to help other families that she may even start a support group for parents of children with diabetes [or special needs] in her local area.
The American Diabetes Association leads the effort to prevent and eliminate discrimination against people with diabetes at school, at work and in other parts of daily life. If you need help, call 1-800-DIABETES or visit http://diabetes.org/gethelp.
Through our nationwide Safe at School program, the Association is dedicated to making sure that all children with diabetes are medically safe at school and have the same educational opportunities as their peers. Visit our Safe at School website for information and resources.
Give the gift of fairness — donate now to help people with diabetes facing discrimination, just like Micaiah.