Woodbury school accused of diabetes-related discrimination

March 14, 2019 03:38 PM

As of 2:45 p.m. on March 14, 2019, Emma Garvey has not signed the waiver which the school says would allow them to fully provide the information concerning the cirumstances of Emma Garvey's daughter Kylie Eliason's situation at New Life Academy.

The mother of a five-year-old girl is accusing a private school in Woodbury of discrimination.

Emma Garvey says New Life Academy told her to find a new school for her daughter, Kiley Eliason, due to Kiley's Type 1 diabetes.

"It didn't really hit me at first, and then my heart just broke for her because diabetes has stolen so much from her," said Garvey. "It's stolen her physical health. It's stolen her emotional health. Now, it's stealing her school, her friends, her teachers."

Due to her diagnosis, Kiley endures daily finger pokes and insulin doses. Garvey has to change her daughter's pump every 72 hours.

Garvey says her daughter attended New Life Academy for the past two school years with no issues, whatsoever.

But, she says things began to change recently when the school's one nurse asked for help tending to Kiley's diabetic needs.

"That's when stuff started to unravel," said Garvey. "I got called into the office and told they didn't think it's a good fit anymore."

In a statement released to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, a New Life Academy spokesperson wrote:

"We are blessed to provide a Christ-centered learning environment for our students - ours is a community of caring.

New Life Academy provides services to students with various special health and learning needs. When we have the ability to provide the level of care and support that is needed for each child's situation, we do so. When we do not have this ability, we refer them to schools that can provide the services needed. 
Out of respect to the privacy of those involved and in accordance with the law, we cannot comment on a specific case without a parent's permission to do so."

Garvey claims New Life Academy gave her two weeks to find a new school for Kiley.

"We asked if she could stay until the end of the year, but they said no," Garvey said.

In a follow-up statement, a New Life Academy spokesperson wrote:

"We were able to accommodate this child's needs for more than 2 years. A few months ago, the child's needs increased and became more serious. At that time, the school raised concerns with the family about the needs exceeding the resources available. Since that time, the school has continued discussions with the family to help find a solution that would meet the child's needs."

Garvey disputes the school's assertion that they provided assistance to her to find a new school for Kiley.

She channeled her feeling of helplessness into a Facebook post that has since been shared more than 1,200 times. Garvey said messages have poured in from people all over the country who've also experienced diabetes-related discrimination.

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"When you think of discrimination, you don't think of a five-year-old with diabetes," said Garvey. "That's not what you think of."

Garvey says, despite being full, Oakdale Elementary School made an exception for Kiley, even though the school wasn't admitting new students, and allowed her to enroll to finish out the school year.

Kiley starts at Oakdale Elementary School on Monday.

Late Tuesday night, New Life Academy says they sent Emma a release, which would have allowed the school to discuss her child's situation in detail. After originally saying Emma declined to sign the release, a spokesperson now says Emma "has not done so."

KSTP reached out to Emma, who says she's been at work Tuesday night and hasn't declined to sign anything.

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