An estimated 7,400 children with epilepsy live in Minnesota. To make schools a safer place for them, advocates are asking for “Seizure Smart Schools” legislation.
Sponsored by Rep. Kelly Moller (DFL-Shoreview), HF469, as amended, would require school districts and charter schools to adopt seizure action plans and provide staff with training materials on seizures.
It was held over by the House Education Policy Committee Wednesday for possible omnibus bill inclusion. The companion, SF654, awaits action by the Senate Education Finance and Policy Committee. Sen. Andrew Lang (R-Olivia) is the sponsor.
“Today, many teachers and staff lack the tools and awareness they need to recognize and respond appropriately to seizures that happen at school,” Moller said. “This bill helps fix that problem.”
Statistically, about 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime, and 1 in 10 people will have a seizure, according to Nikki Baker, community health services director at the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota.
“Youth under the age of 18 are one of the leading populations to develop epilepsy, so we can be sure that seizure response is relevant to every school,” she said.
Schools often have standard seizure practices in place or have action plans for students who have individual learning plans. However, a large percentage of students that experience seizures can fall through the cracks, Baker said.
The proposal would eliminate those gaps by requiring schools to create action plans, in collaboration with parents, for every student who has epilepsy and takes medication. Additionally, an individual or position within the school would be identified and trained to administer care and medication appropriately should the student have a seizure at school.
Another measure would require districts to provide all licensed school nurses and designated individuals with self-study materials on seizure disorders.
“The ultimate goal here is to make sure there’s a plan in place, to have someone with knowledge of how to respond when the student is at school,” Moller said. “And by bringing awareness of epilepsy to the education community, students living with epilepsy or a seizure disorder can feel safe at school and reach their full academic potential.”