Days before school starts, a mother and father in New Bedford learn their
6–year–old daughter, with Type 1 Diabetes, cannot return to her elementary school. The little girl's health issues are serious enough, that a
school nurse has to be available at all times, but because of budget cuts, there is no full time nurse. So, the first grader must find another school.
At first glance, Hannah Walsh looks like any happy
6–year–old girl, but if you look closely, you can see she carries a burden
with her at all times.
"She's a Type 1 Diabetic and she's Insulin dependent, and
she was diagnosed that way at 11 months,"said her father Ken Walsh.
Because of Hannah's condition, she requires a full–time
nurse at her school to monitor her throughout the day.
"A diabetics condition, especially at her age can go
from good to horrible in minutes," exlpained Ken Walsh.
So when Hannah had a great first year at Winslow Elementary
in New Bedford, Ken and Grace Walsh thought they'd found the perfect place for
their little girl.
Until they got a phone call from the school.
"I never thought it would be, your daughter can't go to
school," explained Ken.
The supervisor of New Bedford's school nurses left a message for the Walsh's 5 days before school started, but the Walsh's didn't get it, they were out of the country.
"We found out the first day of school, when we called
to see what the voicemail was all about," said Ken.
Budget cuts forced Hannah's full–time nurse out of Winslow, a part time nurse is in her place, which isn't enough for Hannah.
"It's not her fault that she's a diabetic, she didn't
ask for it, but she is," her mother Grace explained.
The assistant superintendent of New Bedford schools
told us over the phone that there are nine other elementary schools in New Bedford with full time nurses. She also said that the school would provide bus transportation to Hannah's new school. But even then, Hannah would need a nurse on the bus with her.
The Walsh's say a transfer would mean separating their
kids, and uprooting their daughter who just wants to go back where she started.
"I like my friends there," said Hannah.
"What we believe is right is that she comes to her
neighborhood school. The school that we bought this house for, and the
neighborhood we've always wanted to live in, and the school our son has been in
for many years, that's where she needs to be," said Ken.
The Walsh's have contacted their city leaders and school councilmen. Hannah hasn't attended school for two days. The Walsh's plan to fight to get her back into Winslow Elementary.