bill seeks to tackle seizure disorders in schools | Local News

A mother of a child with epilepsy is the springboard for state legislation that would set guidelines for public schools where seizure-prone students are enrolled.

Senate Bill 541 would require elementary and secondary schools to have staff trained to properly respond to on-campus epilepsy episodes at all times when one or more students with seizure disorders are present.

It prohibits the state’s 180 public school systems from violating the school choice of a student with a history of seizures by forcing the child to attend a specific school designated for seizure disorders.

Sponsored by Sen. Jason Anavitarte, R-Dallas, it would also require trained personnel to be available during field trips and all extracurricular activities when the group includes a student known to have seizures. A parent of a child may be considered among the trained personnel.

Bus drivers would also be required to be trained in first aid in the event of a seizure.

The measure has five co-sponsors, including Senator Sheila McNeill, R-Brunswick.

“This is a bill that should have come sooner,” McNeill said. “We must do everything we can to keep all of our children safe at school.”

If passed, the Georgia Department of Education would have until August 1 to adopt a plan for all school systems.

Stephanie Barnes, a stay-at-home mom of three in Paulding County, got the ball rolling on measurement.

Paulding County is west of Atlanta.

“My eldest, (who) is 13, was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2017,” Barnes said.

“My daughter is currently homeschooled. However, she is zoned for Paulding County. I have contacted them but have not heard back yet.”

She said Senator Anavitarte introduced the legislation at the request of her and her 27-year-old partner, who was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 14.

The Glynn County school system has a plan in place to care for students with seizure disorders, Superintendent Scott Spence said.

“Our school system uses Multilevel Support Systems (MTSS) to meet the needs of our students,” he said in response to a request from The News. “Our plan would include the MTSS team who would develop the plan and implement the plan to ensure the student’s safety at school or in any school-sponsored activity.”

Members of the response team include the student’s teacher, school nurse, parent, student, and administrators.

“This is consistent with our practice for any students who have medical conditions that may require additional support at school,” Spence said.

A common complaint from parents is when a son or daughter with a history of seizures is designated as a “special needs” student.

Does this happen in the Glynn County school system?

“It depends,” Spence said. “If the student’s epilepsy negatively impacts the academic performance of the school where the student requires specially designed instruction, then the student may be eligible for special education services under the special needs “Other health problems”.

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