Mother taking her child out of Richmond County school because lack of nurses

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It's a budget problem for the school, but one mother says it's a matter of life and death.

The blood sugar monitor beeps. The reading says “hi.”

“Still high. Man, we're gonna have to go to the hospital?" asked 6-year-old Shane.

This is just one of many scary moments for Alecia Reed and her son, Shane, who suffers from Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes.

She can help her 6-year-old get treatment now, but when he's at school, she can't.

“I have the best nurse at Tobacco Road Elementary, but at the same time, she does have obligations at another school,” Reed said.

“We're only able to fund 32 nurses and there are 59 schools, so we still have a lot of buildings that have a nurse that has to cover two buildings,” said Executive Director of Student Services for the Richmond County School Board Carol Rountree.

“When it says 'hi,' it puts us in emergency mode," Reed said.

Without a full-time nurse at her son's school, a blood sugar reading like this could turn into tragedy.

“If his sugar was to rise and she wasn't there, he probably could go into a coma, he could start having seizures, and he could die,” Reed said.

“We would love to have one nurse per school. That would be an ideal situation,” Rountree said.

But at $500,000 a year for the 32 nurses the county does have, parents and officials can agree on one thing.

“There's a definite problem,” said Wendy Walton, a friend and advocate.

Walton has fought a similar battle with her 14-year-old son who's autistic and diabetic.

She even moved out of the county so her child would not have to go to a Richmond County school.

“I just felt like my son would not be safe, so I chose not to put him in the school system,” she explained.

Reed's about ready to do the same.

“If I don't see any changes the first of the year when it's time to go back to school, Shane possibly will not be going back to public school. He may be home-schooled,” she said.

Reed has a meeting set up with the school as soon as classes start again.

Dr. Rountree says the school system often works to rearrange the nurses' schedules depending on a child's needs or even provides training to other staff members if they are willing.

But unless the state provides more funding, there's not much else they can do.

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