(WSVN) - He is a 9-year-old student who has to take insulin injections to control his Type 1 diabetes. This year, he is afraid to go to school because he is convinced COVID will kill him. His family said they had a request of the school district, and when they couldn’t get it, they turned to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
In 2019, Arlett and her husband knew something was wrong with Jiraiya. They were right.
Arlett Gayle: “They did blood work, and antibodies came back and said it was Type 1 diabetes.”
Type 1, often called juvenile diabetes.
Jiraiya has to prick his finger several times a day to make sure his blood sugar stays around 100. Not easy for an adult, much less a 9-year-old.
Jiraiya Gayle: “Five hundred, but then it went down to 70, 60, 80.”
Arlett Gayle: “Pretty much. It was just all over the place.”
To control his diabetes, Jiraiya takes insulin injections several times a day. With the help of his parents, he has learned how.
When Jiraiya went to school two years ago, it wasn’t a problem.
Arlett Gayle: “They put a plan in place while he’s in school. I think he adapted to it really well.”
When COVID hit, Jiraiya had online classes like every other student in Broward, but during that time, he became fearful of what COVID, combined with his diabetes, would do to him if he returned to school.
Jiraiya Gayle: “Because on the news, all the other kids are getting killed by COVID.”
Arlett Gayle: “Then he communicated that, ‘If I go to school and catch COVID, I’m gonna die.'”
Jiraiya Gayle: “It can kill people.”
Patrick Fraser: “You think it’s gonna hurt you.”
(Jiraiya nods his head.)
Arlett Gayle: “He communicated that he didn’t want to live a full life, so that tore me apart.”
To help overcome his fear of COVID at school, in August, Arlett asked to meet with school officials to talk about what’s called a 504 plan that helps disabled students.
Arlett Gayle: “It’s a team that meets together. It will be me, his dad, the school nurse and the school psychologist, and we will all sit there as a team, and that was denied to me.”
Arlett says, since the elementary school officials wouldn’t meet with him, she was afraid to send Jiraiya back to his fourth grade classroom.
Jiraiya Gayle: “I couldn’t do it. I started to panic. I can’t drop him off and leave him and go, ‘Have a great day. I’ll see you later.'”
Now it’s October. Jiraiya still has not stepped into his elementary school.
Arlett has hired a tutor to help him while she tries to get Broward school officials to just meet with her to get counseling for Jiraiya.
Arlett Gayle: “Had they listened to me and said, ‘OK, let’s sit down,’ I wouldn’t be here. He’d be in school.”
Well, Howard, legally, is Jiraiya entitled to medical help and counseling because of his fear his diabetes will make him likely to die of COVID?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Poor kid. He can’t do classes online because the governor blocked it. As for special counseling to ease his fears about dying from COVID, the law is unclear whether he is entitled to the help, and legally, right now, you can’t force the school to help, but in these stressful times for kids and parents, the schools need to find ways to help out.”
I contacted the Broward School District on Sept. 2. It took two weeks to answer my question, when they said they had “been in communication with the parent on several occasions to provide information on requirements and the educational options available for her child.”
Arlett says that’s not true, and it’s why she called Help Me Howard.
The district also let me know they would meet with Arlett online … on Sept. 30, two weeks later, meaning that by the time Arlett spoke to them, Jiraiya will have now missed the first month and half of school.
On the 30th, they spoke.
Arlett Gayle: “The school psychologist suggested that he go in for an hour per day to get him acclimated back into the building.”
Jiraiya Gayle: “I like it.”
A cap and shirt we gave Jiraiya made him happy, but as he eases back into the classroom, Arlett is not happy about the way her concerns and her son’s fears were treated.
Arlett Gayle: “I am very disappointed in the school district. I have literally lost all faith in Broward County Schools.”
What’s the solution to help a disabled child in school? You just have to keep fighting like Arlett to find someone who listens, who cares, ’cause a lawsuit could take years, and a child in school can’t wait years.
Fighting to help someone you treasure? Sometimes the only solution is to shine a light on it. Turn to us and see if we can brighten your outlook.
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