The Maryland Catholic Conference offers this testimony in opposition to Senate Bill 71. The Catholic Conference represents the public-policy interests of the three (arch)dioceses serving Maryland, the Archdioceses of Baltimore and Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.
Senate Bill 71 would require schools, both public and nonpublic, to comply with several guidelines, were they to choose to implement a management plan for diabetic students. Among those requirements are for schools to provide special training for employee care providers who volunteer to act as diabetic care providers.
Catholic schools often have diabetes management plans already in place, tailored to the specific diabetic student. These plans are usually either doctor or parent-derived and schools make every effort to ensure that their diabetic students can be cared for prudently and diligently within those guidelines. Parents choose Catholic and other nonpublic schools because they feel it is best particular educational option for their child, often due to increased attention to their particular needs. It is thus important that parents and students maintain the unique benefit of autonomous, individual attention that their chosen school can provide, including their particular health needs.
Even though this proposal provides that it is optional for Catholic and other nonpublic schools to formulate a Diabetes Management Program, it also provides that if those schools do choose to do so, they must comply with each of the specific requirements allotted for therein. Such requirements are antithetical to the autonomy allowed by the child-specific, parent or doctor-derived plans mentioned above. Additionally, student medical care providers should be able to feel free to provide the necessary care within their best judgement, immune from liability in any circumstance where they are exercising the proper reasonable standard of care.
If the General Assembly were to pass Senate Bill 71, schools’ ability to tailor diabetic student care plans may be jeopardized and the standard of care relative to care liability could be called in to question. Moreover, many lower-income Catholic schools of limited means, of which there are a significant number throughout the state, cannot always afford to have full-time nurses on staff. It is thus imperative that, if any iteration of this proposal were to pass, it could not be interpreted as requiring schools to hire a full-time nursing staff.
It is for these reasons that the Maryland Catholic Conference urges an unfavorable report for Senate Bill 71 or, at the very least, urges the adoption of the attached amendment proposals. Thank you for your consideration.
Proposed Amendments to SB 71
“Public and Nonpublic Schools – Student Diabetes Management Program”
Page 6, line 25, delete “shall” and insert “may”
Page 7, line 15, delete “shall” and insert “may”
Page 7, line 31, after “nurse”, insert “, if applicable,”
Page 8, line 12, delete “shall agree” and insert “is encouraged”
Page 9, line 2, delete “shall” and insert “is encouraged”
Page 9, line 5, delete “shall” and insert “may”
Page 9, line 8, after “nurse”, insert “, if applicable,”
Page 9, line 16, delete “shall” and insert “may”