COURTS & LEGAL

Parents claim Davis School District denied their daughter lifesaving care, in new lawsuit

Mar 5, 2023, 12:30 PM | Updated: 2:14 pm

The parents of a 14-year-old with severe disabilities have filed a lawsuit claiming the Davis Schoo...

The parents of a 14-year-old with severe disabilities have filed a lawsuit claiming the Davis School District is denying their daughter potentially lifesaving accommodations. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News )

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News )

SALT LAKE CITY — The parents of a 14-year-old with severe disabilities have filed a lawsuit claiming that the Davis School District is denying their daughter potentially lifesaving accommodations.

Dennis and Sarah George filed the suit in U.S. District Court last week, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and infliction of emotional distress.

It seeks unspecified damages and an enjoinder that would prohibit school district officials from “denying plaintiffs and similarly-situated students with the school-based services they need to enjoy equal educational opportunity to their nondisabled peers,” the suit states.

A Davis School District spokesman said because the litigation is pending, the district would not provide any comment.

According to the lawsuit, the George’s 14-year-old daughter has a variety of conditions, including dysautonomia, sleep apnea, tachycardia, bradycardia, Loeys-Dietz syndrome and mast cell activation syndrome.

These conditions cause her breathing to stop, her heart rate to drop low or rise high, and her body to experience unexpected allergic reactions, the lawsuit states. While describing the student’s conditions to the school district, one of her doctors said it would be “detrimental” for her not to have a trained aide with her at school.

But during a Feb. 7 meeting, the district “unilaterally decided that (the) student was no longer in need of a paraprofessional to respond to her multiple medical diagnoses,” the lawsuit states, and the service was set to discontinue on Feb. 27.

It further alleges that, during the Feb. 7 meeting, the student’s parents were presented with data indicating that their daughter did not need paraprofessional support to manage her disabilities.

However, “(the) parents were immediately able to demonstrate that the data … did not match the charts provided by (the district) and key dates were omitted during which student’s health was poor,” according to the lawsuit.

It also alleges that administrators ignored specific, signed health care plans that the parents had previously agreed on, replacing them only with instructions to call 911 if the student required medical attention. This is the only response the district has been willing to provide since October 2022, it claims.

Additionally, the school district “made a false report to the Division of Child and Family Services in January of 2022 complaining that parents were seeking too much medical help for (the) student” and claiming that the parents fabricated medical records, the suit alleges.

It also claims that the school district “insists” it has the legal right to administer epinephrine to the student in the event of an anaphylactic allergic reaction, but epinephrine could cause the student to suffer an aortic aneurysm.

The district is concerned that the student is missing class and social time because her parents remove her from school when an aide isn’t present, the lawsuit continues. But her life is in danger without an aide, it states, and “band, math class and lunch with friends are irrelevant if (the) student is dead.”

It continues that the district wants the student to wear an Apple Watch to monitor her symptoms rather than her physician-provided Smart Monitor 2, which requires a trained paraprofessional to recognize its various and specific alarms.

The discontinuation of these paraprofessional services, then, will put the student’s life “in immediate danger as she becomes incapacitated through cessation of breathing, reduction of heart rate, and excessively high heart rate,” according to the complaint.

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Parents claim Davis School District denied their daughter lifesaving care, in new lawsuit