Parents of special needs students upset over Keller ISD policy shift




Posted on September 3, 2012 at 5:58 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 9:53 PM

KELLER — Some parents in Keller ISD started this school year worried that a policy change could endanger the health of their children.

The district initially said it would no longer allow highly-trained private nurses to attend school with special needs students, saying the nurses pose a "potential distraction."

But Colleen Lockwood — the mother of eight-year-old David — called them potential lifesavers. Her son has CDKL5, a rare disorder that causes him to suffer an average 13 seizures a day.

"He cannot crawl, walk, or talk. Everything he needs in a day, that nurse or we provide for him," Lockwood said.

Just before the school year began, the Lockwood family and others who have sent nurses to school with their disabled children received letters from Keller ISD stating those nurses were no longer permitted on campus.

"She's been at the same school for five years," said Dennis Crosby, father of eight-year-old Paris. "Why all of a sudden is there a policy change?"

Here is how Keller ISD responded in a written statement:

"In order to ensure the best possible care for our students, Keller ISD has changed its policy regarding private duty nurses, no longer allowing them in the classroom. This decision was made with the best interests of each student in mind. Our new policy is in line with all state and federal regulations.

"In recognition of this new policy, we have enriched campus staffing by hiring registered nurses for all campuses for the 2012-13 school year. This policy allows us to provide more care for our students."

Crosby, Lockwood, and a handful of other parents met last week to debate the school's position.

"Our belief is, the school is here to educate — not to medicate," Crosby said. "Let the school focus on the education part of it; let us focus on providing the nursing care that we've obtained and that we've had for five years."

Lockwood said she had never had anyone tell her the nurses were a distraction.

"Even asking teachers, 'Does this hurt the educational process in any way?' No, it actually helps, especially like his class now," Lockwood said. "One nurse for six medically-fragile children? Which child seizing do you take care of first?"

Keller ISD followed up with a statement one day after the parents met, saying "parents providing proof that their doctor has prescribed a private duty nurse have always and will continue to be allowed to use that private duty nurse."

Lockwood said she and other families worry the state could use the cutback in nursing hours to cut them from state aid, which would mean their sons and daughters could lose critical care.

"It's just not safe for the children," Lockwood said.