February 1 — 5:44 pm, 2012

PFT files complaint about untrained personnel dispensing medication

UPDATE: District statement

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers is alleging that the School District is violating the school code and endangering children because it has ordered untrained school personnel to administer medication in the absence of nurses.

The District laid off 47 nurses in December, and the ratio of student-to-nurse now exceeds the recommended ideal. As a result, many schools have nurses on site only one or two days a week.

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan issued a statement and held a press conference to announce the complaint.

"The administration has ordered school nurses to instruct teachers, counselors, secretaries, classroom assistants, principals and other school employees with no medical background or training to administer medications to children during the school day," Jordan said. He said this puts children’s "health and safety in jeopardy."

The complaint was filed with Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Eli N. Avila. It cited a section of the school code and health department guidelines specifying that dispensing medication may not be delegated.

Jordan said it has documented cases in more than 100 schools where other school personnel, from principals to noon-time aides, are giving medicine to children.

School nurses have been leading weekly protests in front of District headquarters called Occupy 440 to complain about this and other cutbacks affecting schools. The District, having already cut $600 million-plus from its budget, said it must cut $61 million more to achieve a balanced budget this year.

We will update with a statement from the School District as soon as we get it. Fernando Gallard, District spokesperson, wrote:

“The School District of Philadelphia will be reviewing the complaint filed by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and will respond directly to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.  The District is prepared to answer any questions that may arise from the complaint.  The District is confident that its long-standing practice and its protocols for administration of medication fall within the requirements of law and fully address the medical needs and well-being of children in our schools.”

the notebook

Our news is free to read, but not to report.

support local journalism