The parents of a student who suffered a permanent brain injury in April at McGuire Middle School are suing the Lakeville school district and the school’s nurse, accusing them of improperly treating their daughter during a severe asthma attack.
The federal lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, alleges the school’s nurse failed to properly evaluate, treat or monitor the student, who was in eighth grade at the time. Instead, the nurse sent the 14-year-old to gym class, where her condition worsened, the complaint says.
Attorneys for the family argued in court documents that the school district and the nurse violated state and federal disability laws by not providing a reasonable accommodation for the student’s asthma, a condition that constituted a disability.
“[The student] will require continuous medical and professional caretaking services for the rest of her life,” attorneys Steven Meshbesher and Richard Student with Meshbesher & Associates said in a release.
According to the suit, the student was diagnosed with severe asthma at an early age and has undergone continuous medical treatment for it most of her life. That day in April when she was sent to her physical education class, her airways narrowed until she could no longer breathe, court documents state, and she lost consciousness and was deprived of oxygen for about 30 minutes, causing brain damage that has left the teen in a persistent vegetative state.
In a statement, the Lakeville school system denied responsibility for the student’s injuries as outlined in the complaint, saying that the district takes students’ health seriously and abides by medical protocols and emergency response procedures.
“Lakeville Area Schools are deeply saddened by the medical incident regarding one of our students last April. We express our deepest sympathy for the student and family,” the statement said.
The student’s parents, Marquetta Silva and Kenyatta Bowen, said in the complaint that the district and the school’s nurse were aware of their child’s severe asthma, a disability that had significantly limited her daily activities, including walking and exercising.
Before the incident occurred, the school’s nurse and the district had an updated asthma control plan from the student’s pulmonologist with detailed instructions about treatment and ways to monitor her breathing during an asthma attack, according to the suit.
The plan calls for frequent nebulizer treatments and close respiratory monitoring until the student’s breathing returns to normal, the suit says.
But the nurse failed to follow the student’s asthma plan and give reasonable accommodations, according to the complaint.
The student, whose condition hasn’t improved, is now home and getting round-the-clock medical attention, it says.
School district officials said the nurse, who has been working at the school since 2002, is still employed with the district and there has been no disciplinary action taken against her.
The family is seeking more than $10 million in damages from the nurse and the school system, the lawsuit says.
In the meantime, the mother has launched a GoFundMe page to raise funds for her daughter’s medical treatment.
Faiza Mahamud • 612-673-4203