Mother of diabetic student sues Eastern High School staff for negligence

Mother of diabetic student sues Eastern High School staff for negligence
Emily Rowe (Source: Michael Williams, WAVE 3 News)
Emily Rowe (Source: Michael Williams, WAVE 3 News)
Melissa Rowe (Source: Michael Williams, WAVE 3 News)
Melissa Rowe (Source: Michael Williams, WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - An Eastern High School freshman who has Type One juvenile diabetes repeatedly was given the wrong medication by a teacher which resulted in injury and the potential of coma and death, according to a lawsuit filed against several school staff members this morning.

A special needs teacher also is accused of physically assaulting the girl, Emily Rowe.

Melissa Rowe, the girl's mother, filed suit against Eastern High School principal Lana Kaelin, assistant principal Jo Gill, secretary Nathaniel Burney, special needs teacher Terry Sheckles and acting school nurse Kimberly Helvey.



The lawsuit states that throughout the entire 2014-15 school year, due to the defendants' negligence, “an environment of depraved indifference to [Emily's] disability was created that was likely to cause [her] fear of diabetic coma, vegetative state, or her death.”

Melissa Rowe said her daughter's blood sugar dropped to 35 on March 27, and she needed glucose, but instead, Helvey and Burney gave her 10 units of insulin.

In addition, Rowe said Kaelin assured her that a certified nurse would accompany Emily on a field trip to the University of Louisville while the girl's blood sugar was low, but according to the lawsuit, "no one, let alone a certified nurse" was made available to assist Emily for treatment of her juvenile diabetes.

Rowe says the defendants' negligence caused her daughter bouts of severe humiliation as well as bouts of confusion, light-headedness and severe mental anguish.

The lawsuit states that in December 2014, special needs teacher Terry Sheckles bruised Emily's arm when she dragged her to the school office because the girl had a drop of blood on her stomach where her Sure-T infusion set had been inserted by the nurse. Rowe said principal Kaelin did nothing about the dragging incident, “thereby condoning child abuse and misdemeanor physical assault.”

"Frigging unbelievable," Gordon said. "How much worse can the care of our children be under JCPS?"

The lawsuit also states that the defendants were entrusted to take care of medical supplies provided for Emily's care, but they failed to do so, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage to the supplies.

The defendants are accused of failing to comply with the girl's 504 plan, which specifies that no one with a disability can be excluded from participating in federally funded programs or activities, including education. A 504 plan also spells out the accommodations that will be needed for disabled students to perform at the same level as their peers. It might include such accommodations as a wheelchair ramp, a peanut-free lunch environment, or in Emily's case, blood sugar monitoring, among other accommodations.

Emily now attends school online. Rowe said she does not want her daughter returning to Eastern High School next year.

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