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Home » DeKalb County School District » Why are DeKalb school nurses being ripped from their communities?

Why are DeKalb school nurses being ripped from their communities?

Dr. Green,
I have been contacted by a number of concerned parents and citizens about recent changes that are being made to nurses at several area schools.  As you can imagine, these changes are causing a great deal of disruption and discomfort for the community and the students.

I know you are quite busy but I do think this matter might need your personal assistance.  I want to make sure that your staff is informing you about their decisions in this matter and providing you the fullest picture on the ramifications.

I have been told that this change is being made pursuant to board policy; specifically about care for children with diabetes.  I reviewed the regulation JGC-R that directs actions based on DeKalb Board Policy JGC.  Additionally, I reviewed state statute regarding the student Diabetic Medical Management Plans (O.C.G.A. 160-4-8-.18).

DeKalb School Board Regulation JGC-R states:  “The school nurse or at least one trained diabetes personnel shall be on site at each school and available during regular school hours to provide care to each student with a diabetes medical management plan being implemented by the school. ”

Pursuant to O.C.G.A. 160-4-8-.18, the state defines “trained diabetes personnel” as:  “a school employee who volunteers to be trained in accordance with this rule. Such employee shall not be required to be a health care professional.”

Given the current clinical/nursing staff of the school communities that have reached out to my office, all policy, regulation, and law are being appropriately followed.  There appears to be no policy, regulation, or state law that can be used as a basis for this change.

Parents have shared just how deeply disruptive this change will be.  The clinical staff person at Kittredge, Ms. Sumi, is a fixture at the school and an alumni parent.  She coaches the science team, academic bowl team and is the sponsor for the Beta Club.  She has secured over $30k in grant money for health and wellness programs over the past few years.  Tearing her away from her community and commitments is heartbreaking for the entire school.  Similarly, Vanderlyn and Oakcliff’s nurses are valued by their community.  Oakcliff’s nurse has been at that school for over 20 years.  She is also uniquely qualified because she is bilingual.  Vanderlyn’s nurse is also a Vanderlyn parent and was recruited to be part of the Vanderlyn staff.  She was a stay-at-home mom and is only working because she is at her children’s school.

The nurses at these schools are now familiar with the myriad of medical situations, medication needs, and temperament of the children they are serving.  They have bonded with these children already.  Switching nurses in this way is disruptive for thousands of children in these schools.  Surely this warrants consideration.  It is potentially detrimental to those children that have come to depend on their current school nurse who already knows their important medical routines.  Switching clinical staff may create a liability for the district as they start from scratch getting familiar with the needs of the students.  Given that DeKalb is already compliant with policy, regulation, and state law, it is difficult for these communities to understand why they are being subjected to this.

Parents are distraught over this matter.  I have heard unconfirmed reports that as many as 2 of the nurses involved in this change are resigning.  If true, the premise of this change won’t even be accomplished and the, difficult to fill, nursing positions will be vacant. What will have been accomplished is a further degrading of the relationship between the district and parents.  They will have broken the hearts of a community and its children in the process.  It will reinforce the notion that the district acts punitively towards some school communities.  I hope that you will consider this situation, direct your staff to delay any of their changes at this time, develop an alternative strategy, or decide that DeKalb is already in compliance with policy, regulations, and law.

Respectfully,
–Nancy Jester
Commissioner, District 1

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22 Comments

  1. Kristen says:

    My daughter just started middle school, I was shocked to find out there is no nurse at all.

  2. Toff says:

    What exactly is the change being made? The letter states the desired action but what is going on, are nurses positions being eliminated?

  3. DeKalb Parent says:

    RNs from elementary schools across the district are being moved to other schools that have students with diabetes. From the principal and nurse to the parents and community, nobody wants this and it’s not required by law or policy. We’re talking medical assistants and nurses that have been at these schools for 20+ years are getting ripped out mid year.

    I believe half the nurses have resigned over this.

  4. DadofDaughter says:

    A typical Friends and Family issue at play here. A powerful central office person trying to get job(s) for nursing friends, displacing current nurses, who are quitting

  5. Toff says:

    Thanks for the info. It seems like a strange strategy to move people based on diabetes. What happens when a nurse is moved from a school with no kids with diabetes and then a week later at that same school a kid gets diagnosed with diabetes?
    I understand the need to deploy resources but this looks like an ill-conceived cost cutting measure.

  6. Lisa Victory says:

    Ms Sumi! She is such an amazing asset to Kittredge. What a shame it would be to lose her. Her assistance When Clayton participated in Science Bowl, and I was asked to be a coach, she went way beyond the call of duty in helping everyone involved.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  7. DeKalb Parent says:

    I’m told by people in the central office that the grandmother of one of the students with diabetes at one of the schools is part of the Friends And Family. The grandmother of the diabetic student called the Human Resources Director, Dr. Tekshia Ward-Smith, and asked for a personal favor. She wanted an RN at the school her diabetic grandchild was at.

    To get this through and make it look kosher, I guess the central office had to make broad sweeping changes. The other reassignments are collateral damage so the grandmother can get that RN.

  8. Concerned Parent says:

    Mrs. Rosalind Pickens-Johnson who was moved from Bouie was more than a clinician. She was a positive role model who cared for the students beyond her clinician office. When I received the phone call about my son falling on the play ground hurting his arm or the phone call about one of my daughters being sick, I didn’t panic as a mother because I knew they were in her care. A clinician with her LPN certification and she works in a hospital. Mrs. Pickens-Johnson also sponsored the National Jr. Beta Club, Safety Patrol and Sisters of the Circle. Supporting her return to Bouie!

  9. Kittredge Parent says:

    Don’t take Ms. Sumi away from us!

    Ms. Sumi is a critical link to the academic success of all of our KMS students. She is a very gifted teacher and community member who provides so much more than serving in the school nurse capacity. She is THE epitome of a school staff who goes above and beyond to know the children, to support them and to motivate them. Her commitment and dedication to the physical and academic well-being of our children cannot be replaced.

    She heads up so many critical teams at KMS that make our school great. As the lead sponsor for the Academic Team and the Science Olympiad she has shone a bright light on not only KMS kids but on DCSD throughout the county, the region, across the state and nationally – with teams going all the way to nationals frequently. Additionally, she has secured $30K+ in grant money for health and wellness initiatives that has benefitted all KMS students over the years.

  10. RF says:

    This unjustifiable move is very troubling to our school and is causing large number of protests to this unsupported and unwarranted decision. The decision to move non-RN nurses is being met with resignations across the county. The RN nurses that are leaving will result in additional open positions in the schools and leave the schools with even fewer RN’s than they have today.

    In addition, by removing Ms. Sumi, a highly qualified individual who coaches award-winning Science Olympiad teams, Academic Bowl teams and Beta Club for Kittredge the district is putting our children and our school in an unfortunate spot. She has obtained several health and wellness grants for the school, and she has always successfully fulfilled the role of nurse. Following the resignation of the nurse at Vanderlyn, Kittredge will be left without a nurse at all and will have lost an invaluable member of the staff in Ms. Sumi.

    Please postpone this decision or there will be 1000’s of parents, teachers putting this poorly designed decision with collateral damage on WSB TV, face book, etc. this rash decision will highlight the lack of planning or purpose in DeKalb Schools and the district will lose any potential trust in their decision-making ability.

    Take the next few months, ideally to the end of the school year to design an approach that is grounded in logic and not reactive as I highly suspect this very quick move (2 days notice to an employee) was made.

  11. Concerned Parent says:

    Thank you for your post, Ms. Jester. Well written and very true. Any changes made to personnel after the beginning of the school year are disruptive to the school environment.

  12. Scott Gillispie says:

    This movement of nurses has affected Huntley Hills elementary also – our Nurse Price has been reassigned to Oakcliff, and the Oakcliff nurse was supposed to come to HH; however she has not shown up for the last two days, when the reassignment was supposed to take place. HH is a focus for severely disabled kids, some prone to seizures, so nurse support is essential for student safety.

    Thanks for writing about this –
    Scott Gillispie – Huntley Hills Education Foundation

  13. Diana says:

    This is very valuable information for us parents.
    I want more answers then what they are giving us.

  14. Another concerned parent says:

    E.L. Bouie E.S. – Rosalind Johnson, affectionately known as Nurse Johnson has been at Bouie for 14 years. Her kids are former students of Bouie. She is the Beta Club, Safety Patrol, and Sisters of the Circle advisor. She is also a Medical Assistant and has diabetes experience. The grandparent request can from Bouie. The transfer was made at the demand of a retired grandparent former principal of Dekalb County Schools. She has unfairly been allowed to utilized her relationship to influence school administers. Joann Harris, RN and Dr. Vasanne Tinsely also has personal relationships with the grandparent in question.

  15. sent via email
    Earlier this year, we conducted a review of the health programs throughout the district and determined that there were schools in which diabetic students are enrolled that do not have the support of a licensed nurse for monitoring and injections on a routine basis. The District’s long-standing practice has been for licensed nurses to care for our students with the most significant medical needs. Reassignments have been made in these schools to appropriately support these students.

  16. Concerned parent says:

    The grandmomma now is saying she is sorry for all the trouble she has caused. She wish she could take it back. She is now putting the blame on Joann Harris, RN lead nurse for Dekalb Schools. The grandmomma has been in the parking lot at Bouie pleading her case with the other parents. Heck the students home school is Brownsmill there is a RN there. They could have just taken the child there. But now it is against the law to ask a child to leave since they have a 504 plan. I also heard it was a matter of personality the grandmomma wanted nurse johnson to be more caring or compassionate. No what she really wanted was for nurse Johnson to do what the grandmomma wanted her to do.
    The grandmomma worked at Snapfinger Elem. and the students momma worked for dekalb schools too. All I can say is WOW. Nepotism, Favortism that’s dekalb.

  17. carolyn says:

    If these nurses have this much time on their hand to oversee all these activities, when do they have time to attend the needs of ill students? As a concern parent I would rather have a certified nurse caring for my child. My child came home on several occasions stating she went to the nurse complaining about a sore throat/ head ach, Nurse Johnson said to her go back to class because there is nothing wrong with you. I have full confidence in the DeKalb County School District reasoning for making this change. Thank you Dr. R. Green

  18. Parent says:

    Carolyn,
    I prefer to have a family practitioner for a school nurse, but that isn’t going to happen any more than having a certified nurse at every school.

    Many school employees decide to take on more responsibility than is required of them. For example, some janitors are the school’s media specialist. I don’t begrudge your Nurse Johnson for only doing the bare minimum required of her, punching a clock and then going home. However, we should praise those employees that go above and beyond the call of duty. It’s those people that turn a good school into a great school.

    Perhaps it is that culture at Kittredge which makes it one of the best elementary schools in the state.

  19. DeKalb Parent says:

    Effective Tuesday, October 13, 2015, our Clinic Assistant, Mrs. Sumi Jayaraman will be the new Clinic Assistant at Vanderlyn Elementary. We will have a School Nurse position open for hire. “Miss Sumi” as she is affectionately known, will continue to serve our school and our students through our after-school program and as the coach for the Academic Bowl and Science Olympiad Teams. She has been one of the most dedicated KMS staff members that we have ever had. Please feel free to send her a note expressing your thanks. Her email is sumati_s_jayaraman@dekalbschoolsga.org

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Laura S. Neely, Principal
    Kittredge Magnet School for High Achievers
    A 2012 National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence

  20. leavingdekalb says:

    When anyone, nurse, teacher or para, takes on additional responsibilities such as overseeing clubs, we do this on OUR time. This is time we volunteer before school, after school, and on the weekends.
    I am sickened to read the real reason behind these moves, but unfortunately I am not surprised. A new superintendent does not mean things in DeKalb have or will change.
    Congratulations, Dr. Green. Our medically fragile students at my school have been left without a nurse for much of the day.
    You’ve shown your true colors and made the decision for me, and others, to leave this sinking ship.

  21. A Former Dekalb Employee says:

    I worked with Miss Sumi for 9 years. During these 9 years, she worked with students of mine who had type 1 diabetes, later stages of cancer, epilepsy, life threatening food allergies, migraines, students with injuries, and my more health issues to boot. She provided excellent care to all of these students, to the families, and to me as the child’s teacher.

    Beyond her work as a clinician, she was a vital and dedicated member of our staff. She went above and beyond the call of duty. She led many AFTER school activities and helped us earn grant money for health education. Sumi did great things for Kittredge and Dekalb County Schools.

    In reading the comments, it seems Miss Sumi and Kittredge aren’t the only ones who are hurting – Huntey Hills and Bouie are in pain as well. It seems their clinic assistants were really a big part of their learning environment, too.

    It would benefit administration to spend time getting to know their school system – to really look into their schools, get to know their schools’ fabric, and get to know the pulse of a school. Successful schools are a tight knit community. Most long standing members of a faculty helped build that family and play big roles. Armed with this knowledge, administration may still have made the same decisions, but it would have appeared less rash and less callous.

    What a loss for Kittredge, Huntley Hills and Bouie.

    What a way to further kill the morale of your teachers and faculty.

  22. Bruce S. Curtiss says:

    Thank you for standing up against the DeKalb buffoons, and for all you do for us. We love you!

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