Safe Schools: When to send students to the Emergency Room

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. (Valley News Live) - "Around 9:22, the officer knocked on my door," says Shaina Kirk. "He said [your child] is sick."

"'She appears unresponsive, she can't walk or talk.' Well, I jetted out of the door – I took off as soon as he said that," Kirk says.

And when she got to Adams Elementary School in Fergus Falls, Kirk says she was shocked by what she saw.

"I looked down at my daughter and she was just in a vegetable state. She couldn't hold her head up, she couldn't talk, she couldn't walk. She couldn't do anything," says Kirk. But what she found almost even more shocking was the fact that her daughter was still in school - and not at the hospital.

Kirk says staff at the elementary school kept her daughter in the nurse's office for 45 minutes before she arrived and took her daughter to the emergency room.

A hospital test found illegal drugs in the child's system, prompting child protective services to remove the child from the home and forcing a criminal investigation.

"They called the police officers. They called CPS workers. They made all of these reports and all of these phone calls – they made four phone calls – but none of them were to the emergency room to get the ambulance to take my daughter to the hospital," Kirk says. "I just wish the school would have called the ambulance first of all."

"There is no protocol, there is no plan – they don't have one," Kirk says. "I just think they should implement a school protocol."

"I just don't want another parent to go through what I've been through," she adds.

According to Minnesota's Department of Education and a school nurse organization, there is no state guideline or protocol telling school nurses when to make 9-1-1 calls for students having medical emergencies.

Instead, it's up to the school districts to create policies or the individual nurses to use their own expertise to make those decisions.

When asked about what happened at Adams Elementary School, Fergus Falls' Superintendent says the district always debriefs after situations to improve its practices.

But for Kirk, that's not good enough.

“She was a student there, she looked up to those staff members, she trusted them to help her, I just feel like she was let down. It’s not right what happened to her,” Kirk says. "If a child is unresponsive – what should they do in that case? They need to be able to pull a book out and look and follow the guidelines if they don't know what to do."

It's unclear how the child ended up with drugs in her syste. We reached out to Fergus Falls Police about this case, but they say they cannot comment because it's an active criminal investigation.

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