, 2014

Two remaining school nurses quit

by Audrey Thomasson

KILMARNOCK—Just when it appeared the Lancaster County Public School District was making progress toward filling a school nurse vacancy, the two remaining nurses quit Monday night. That possibly leaves the county’s three schools without a medical staff when students return to classes at the end of the holiday break on January 6.

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The resignations came during an emergency session of the school board and just two hours before the board of supervisors approved a school board request to take $44,000 from the instruction category of their budget to fund a third nursing position.

Mary Bowman, R.N., resigned effective January 6 for personal reasons and Jane Vogel, R.N., announced her retirement as of December 31.

Vogel had previously appealed to school board members and supervisors to resolve the issue of finding a third school nurse. She warned that having two nurses shuttle between the three schools every day was causing problems for children on medications and that the pressure was too much to bear.

The situation began early in 2013, when school superintendent Dr. Daniel Lukich transferred an office staffer from the high school to the middle school and the high school nurse was assigned most of the remaining workload, which basically doubled her duties. Shortly after that, she resigned and the superintendent eliminated the nursing position citing “budget cuts.” Lukich then implemented the system of rotating Bowman and Vogel between the three schools and filling the gaps with office staff.

As a result, parents reported children’s medications were delayed or missed.

Lisa Smith, the parent of a special education child with severe medical needs, filed a complaint with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) alleging that as a result of the nurse issue, her special needs child cannot attend classes. She said the school also failed to provide alternative education, a proper educational environment or proper and adequate review of her child’s case as required by law. As a result, the child has not received any schooling this term.

In a notice of complaint to Lukich, VDOE said it is investigating the complaint based on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. VDOE suggested the superintendent work out a resolution with the family or furnish a written response including all documentation and suggested resolutions before the close of business January 6.

Calls to the superintendent for comment were not returned by deadline.

District 3 board member Don McCann said the central office is currently advertising to fill all three nursing positions.

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