Parents Upset After Elementary School Denies Daughter Her Inhaler

by Ashley Austrew
Originally Published: 

If you’ve got a child in school or even in daycare, then you know that coordinating with staff to administer medications can be kind of a nightmare. One family learned that the hard way this week when their 9-year-old had a coughing fit at school and couldn’t take her inhaler because her parents hadn’t filled out the necessary paperwork.

Emma Gonzales of West Jordan, Utah, obtained an inhaler over the weekend after a severe coughing fit landed her in the emergency room. Her parents had her bring the device to school this week in case she had another episode, but rather than notifying the nurse or her teacher about it, they just let her carry it in her pocket unlabeled.

On Monday, Gonzales had a coughing fit in class and reached for her inhaler, but her teacher told her to go to the school’s front office instead. The office staff took the inhaler from her and monitored her coughing fit while her father was called. Emma ended up coughing so hard she threw up on her pants, and now her parents have completely pulled her out of school because they say the staff is at fault.

According to district policy, parents are required to fill out paperwork to notify staff of any medication their child is taking. Once the proper paperwork is filled out, children are allowed to self-administer their medicine. In this instance, school officials say they had no documentation for Emma’s inhaler and it had no identifying labels, so they kind of had their hands tied.

Even with that information, many are rushing to blame this school for what they see as a lack of common sense. Comments on the KTSU Facebook page were pretty much calling for blood.

Despite the outrage, there’s no indication that Gonzales’ parents or the school considered her condition life-threatening at any time. If they did, the school says they would’ve called 9-1-1 immediately. Beyond that, it’s a parents’ job to notify someone if the danger is that severe.

It’s crazy to think of a sick child being denied medication, but it’s equally absurd to completely ignore school policies and send a sick kid to class with medication that no one knows anything about. Schools are liable for the things that happen on campus. If they gave Gonzales medication that wasn’t hers, gave her an incorrect dosage, or she had a reaction to the meds, that would be on them. It seems like school officials did what they could within their policies to ensure her safety.

As parents, it’s our responsibility to stay abreast of school rules and regulations, and to make our kids’ caregivers aware of any changes. This situation is unfortunate for everyone involved, especially the poor little girl, but we can’t expect school administrators to know what’s going on with our kids unless we tell them.

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