URBANDALE, Iowa –The children of Emily Sweeney, Holly Messenger, and Diane Proffitt have serious health concerns. They’re speaking out after a bill cleared a senate subcommittee which would eliminate the requirement for schools to have nurses.
Messenger has just recently sent her son Keron to pre-school. He needs a feeding tube and has a critical congenital heart defect. Messenger says she doesn’t want to think about sending him to a school without a nurse.
“This fall when he turned three, we started the transition and it was really scary for me even with a school nurse in place that I trusted that I know knows a lot about his condition. She’s very comfortable especially with his G-tube and things like that. It was still scary for me, so I can’t imagine her not being there and not having a medical professional there to have that knowledge to know what to do” said Messenger.
Diane Proffitt’s daughter has cerebral palsy. She says having a nurse is critical for her family, and also for families who live in more rural districts.
“Those nurses…we had one friend, the nurse got on the school bus to ride to pick up the child one morning just to make sure she didn’t have a seizure on the school bus. To us, that’s helping us feel more comfortable sending our child out into the world knowing that somebody’s going to be there to care for our child the way we are at home” said Proffitt.
The three were part of a larger group who signed a letter of concern to Senator Brad Zaun (R) who sits on the education committee. He wrote back this letter:
“I agree librarians and nurses play an important role at our schools, however, I am leaning in support of this legislation. Nothing in this bill communicates to our schools to remove this role. Typically, I do not support unfunded mandates and did not several years when this was passed. I believe in local control as one size does not fit all schools rural vs urban”
Not the response the three mothers were hoping for.
“It was a joke, it was a slap in the face for us” said Proffitt.
As the bill moves forward, they’re asking other lawmakers to hear them out.
“I think we would say please…please listen to our story, please think about your children if you were in our position too and if your child needed that lifesaving treatment or even day-to-day sustaining their function treatment that a nurse provides, please fight for the kids” said Emily Sweeney.
The bill now heads to a full committee hearing.