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(5.30) My child needs health services in order to attend school, but the district told me it does not have to provide such services because they are “medical.” Is this true?

(5.30) My child needs health services in order to attend school, but the district told me it does not have to provide such services because they are “medical.” Is this true?

The distinction between “medical services” and school “health services” is important.  Except for those medical services that are for “diagnostic or evaluation purposes,” districts are not responsible for providing medical services as related services.  [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.34(a).]  “Medical services” are defined in federal law as “services provided by a licensed physician.”  [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.34(c)(5).]  If a service can be performed by a school nurse or other qualified person, and is not one that must be provided by a licensed physician, then it is not a medical service. [Cedar Rapids Community School Dist. v. Garret F., 526 U.S. 66 (1999).]

Districts must provide health services that are not medical services if they are related services.  A health service is a related service if it is necessary to help a child with a disability benefit from special education.  If your child needs the health service to be able to attend school at all, then she needs it to benefit from special education.  [Irving Independent School Dist. v. Tatro, 468 U.S. 883, 892 (U.S. 1984).]  Even if the services are expensive or time-consuming, such as continuous nursing services throughout the day, the district must provide them if they are “supportive services” that enable a child to remain at school during the day and provide meaningful access to education.  [Cedar Rapids Community School Dist.; see also Chapter 14, Information on the Rights of Students with Serious Health Conditions.]