Shouldn't teachers be informed?

I need to know if I'm in the wrong here.

Today. Third period. One of my kids His eyes look sunken, he's pale, his focus is odd, he just seems....weird (it's a medical term). I ask him if he's okay; he says yeah. I ask if he wants to go to the nurse; he says no. I ask if he's sure, just 'cause he's so much quieter than usual; again, no.

A few minutes into class, as they're doing their warmup, I go around to check homework. I get to Zombie Boy (he's weirdly obsessed with 'em), and he's breathing heavily, almost panting. That's it - I send him to the nurse and have a kid walk him down. As they leave, I call the office, just to give them a heads up.

A little later, the companion returns. I thank him for his help, and he announces to the class that the office said I should have had two students walk this kid down because he might have had a seizure. Um, what? Since when would I assume a kid would have a seizure? We usually aren't even asked to have another student walk a sick kid to the office - I just did it because it seemed sensible.

Later I'm in the office, so I mention it. The attendance clerk says she'd forgotten that Zombie Boy had a seizure disorder.

I'm floored. I never knew. I'm horrified at my ineptitude at reading the health concern list. I stammer something to that end, and rush back to my room to see what else I've forgotten about health issues.

I grab my list. I read it.

Then I read it again.

One more time.

Zombie Boy's not on there. At all. Um.....WHAT??????

I send an email saying I'd like an updated health concerns list to reflect this and asking if I'm missing any other medical issue information. I get a response saying that Zombie Boy currently is not diagnosed with a seizure disorder and that's why he's not on the list. He's not diagnosed with anything. THEN WHY WAS A STUDENT TOLD THAT I SHOULD HAVE SENT TWO STUDENTS IN CASE ZOMBIE BOY HAD A SEIZURE???????

Am I wrong to be (a) annoyed that I was told I'd screwed up, and (b) disturbed that a student's private medical information was shared with another student?

Because I am both. Deeply, deeply both.

ETA: Talked to my grade-level administrator today. She is in complete agreement with me and had already addressed the situation with the person involved; my grade-level admin brought the principal in on the conversation so that she was aware too. Probably the other person will now be all annoyed with me, but it's good to know that my school doesn't consider this acceptable behavior, and that it was just one person overstepping their authority, which has now been addressed. Thank you all for your support!

(Photo credit to dsasso)


OKP said...

You're supposed to be informed (not them). I hope you get to the bottom of the no one risks ZB's life...again.

Rachel said...

You have every right to be concerned. You will be better equipped to deal with any emergency should one arise. If you don't know, your first reaction is going to be one of shock! I would definitely press the matter further - call parents & guidance. Bet they would want the teachers to know.

Left Coasting said...

You are completely right, and it sounds like this is not over -- so several types of caution are advised.

1) The first issue, of course, and by far the most important: ZB's health -- which you are already working on.

And it's very much to your credit that you are assertive on that; hopefully, the powers that be will respect your role there as they deal with the other issues this raises.

2) ZB's parents should be brought into this immediately (and probably have been, in the day since your post), because they must be informed about risks to his health. But interactions with them may be complex -- see #3.

3) Whoever told the student about ZB's condition violated federal law (HIPAA, of course), and has therefore generated significant potential liability for the school district.

4) That same person doubtless violated district policy.

5) I can't see where two student escorts offers anything more than -- at best -- better information in the event of catastrophe. Eighth-graders are not typically trained in seizure management.

I suppose the theory would be that if he'd seized in the presence of two peers, instead of one, the second could run to the office in panic and terror while the first watches helplessly -- versus a single escort doing one or the other.

So the policy doesn't make functional sense -- or even common sense.

I can understand that it may be a half-assed attempt to solve a problem of inadequate resources and excess responsibility with the tools at hand (e.g., other eighth graders), but that doesn't make it reasonable.

So the same person who violated federal law and district policy also was not offering a genuine solution in tacitly authorizing your assigned student escort to criticize you in public.

6) Trauma and liability concerns will potentially be extended long-term if this trifecta violation of HIPAA, policy, and common-sense leads to significant abuse by other students as a result of knowledge they should never have had.

7) You're all playing with fire here (though no fault of your own, but nonetheless...) I recommend wearing your grill gloves as you work through it. Take care of yourself, and good luck!

teachin' said...

Thank you all - Zombie Boy's being assessed by medical specialists to figure out what's going on, and everyone is now aware of the situation. Which is really the important thing, that the kid involved will be okay, or at least will be the support he needs while his family deals with this.

"I'm a dreamer but I ain't the only one Got problems but we love to have fun" -K'naan, "Dreamer"

I teach eighth grade Language Arts at an urban school. My kids kick ass and will change the world. I want everyone to know.
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