Many special education students require prescribed medications to help learn the same curriculum taught to general education students. Prescribed medications for learning disorders such as ADHD requires monitoring to ensure students remain healthy. As the result of an increasing number of special education students integrating into the general student classroom, states and the federal government have passed laws that establish the legal standards for administering medications for special education students.
How the Law Applies to Students Bringing Medications to School
Many special education students have to manage lifelong symptoms of an illness or disease that requires the administration of daily medications. Special education students also have to deal with medical conditions such as anxiety and ADHD that diminish learning skills. State and federal laws clearly outline the medications students are allowed to take without the monitoring of a teacher and/or administrator. To prevent drug abuse and accidental overdose, state and federal laws list the drugs that require storage by school educators.
The Process to Administer Prescribed Drugs
Every state has some type of statute that sets the legal requirement for school teachers and administrators to administer prescribed drugs. Some states clearly mandate which school officials have the legal power to control and manage the delivery of medication dosages. You might live in a state that requires a state-licensed nurse to administer prescribed medications for your special needs child. However, a growing number of states allow certified teachers and administrators to administer prescribed medications to avoid the hassle of parents having to take time off from work to fulfill the role of a state-licensed nurse.
Special Education Medication Guidelines
Most states have adopted special education medication guidelines that follow similar procedures. A special education child or adolescent receives a prescription for a medication that treats learning disorder symptoms. Federal law prohibits teachers and administrators from administering medications that do not have a physician’s approval. Parents typically sign a consent form that allows specified teachers and/or administrators to administer prescribed drugs. School officials must properly store prescribed medications and administer the drugs one dose at a time in intervals presented on the prescription label.
Many states have enacted what are known as “Good Samaritan” laws to reduce legal liability. Good Samaritan laws protect teachers and administrators who administer prescribed medications in good faith. However, the ambiguity of the legal term “good faith” has sparked numerous lawsuits that challenge a school official’s legal right to administer a prescribed medication under the legal standards established by Good Samaritan statutes. Most Good Samaritan laws offer legal protection for teachers and administrators for clearly defined medical emergencies.
California code clearly defines the legal parameters for school official for the administering of prescribed medications to special needs students “In order for a pupil to be assisted by a school nurse or other designated school personnel pursuant to subdivision, the school district shall obtain both a written statement from the physician and surgeon or physician assistant detailing the name of the medication, method, amount, and time schedules by which the medication is to be taken and a written statement from the parent, foster parent, or guardian of the pupil indicating the desire that the school district assist the pupil in the matters set forth in the statement of the physician and surgeon or physician assistant.”
The law in California also defines the legal right for students to administer automatically injectable prescribed epinephrine. School officials must receive written consent from a physician, as well as detailed instructions that list the name of the medication, the administration schedule, and the method used to inject the drug. A written statement from a parent or guardian confirms the approval of self-injection.
The application of medication for special education students is a rapidly changing legal issue for both parents and teachers. Consult with education attorney to learn the legal rights you and your child have under California special education laws.