TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tampa Bay-area parents of children with special needs reached out to 8 On Your Side after they became concerned about a new school policy.
These parents must feed their children through a Gastrostomy Tube or a G-Tube. And it’s never been a problem for school nurses to feed their children, until just a few weeks ago.
It’s hard to be a parent but these moms face extra challenges. They spend a lot of time making homemade food and blending it.
Last month, they were suddenly told that special food can’t be administered at school anymore and they want to know why.
“She is just the coolest kid,” Megan McGee said.
McGee’s daughter, Sara, is fed through a G-Tube. Megan worked with a doctor to find the perfect blend of home-made food.
For three years now, a Hillsborough County school nurse has administered the homemade food to Sara, twice a day.
But on Nov. 1, the school’s policy changed.
“We’re told that suddenly it’s just against standard nursing practices,” McGee said. “Their solution was that we come in and administer her tube feeds ourselves.”
McGee, who also has a full-time job, had two options.
She said she was told she could stop by the school daily to feed Sara or start giving Sara pre-packaged food.
McGee said pre-packaged food makes Sara sick.
“Now that we’re finally kind of in a good place with her health, it’s just really upsetting to be going through this,” McGee said.
After we contacted the Hillsborough County School District, the issue was resolved.
School officials at Walden Lake Elementary in Plant City told McGee that Sara could keep getting her mom’s homemade meals.
We were moving on to the next story, the next viewer problem, but then, other moms said it was happening to their children, too.
Elizabeth Lane is Annabelle’s mom.
“They gave us no warning, no explanation,” Lane said.
Daniella Vetencourt said she had the same experience with her son, Diego.
“This is horrible like you’re penalizing him for not being able to use his hands,” Vetencourt said.
Schools in the district suddenly said staff can’t administer homemade food to the children.
“It’s insane, I mean I’m a working parent, her dad works,” Lane said. “We can’t go up and feed our daughter.”
Some schools were providing temporary solutions but the moms turned to 8 On Your Side seeking a permanent fix.
“It needs to be 100% resolved so that there aren’t any other families going through the exact same thing that we’ve been through,” McGee said.
8 On Your Side turned to the district again. They sent us a statement saying in part: “Beginning immediately, the district will follow doctor’s orders and accept home blends… The school nurse will administer the tube feeds…”
The moms say their prayers have been answered.
Here is the full statement from the HCSD: “Beginning immediately, the district will follow doctor’s orders and accept home blends as well as prepackaged meals from families. The school nurse will administer the tube feeds as stated in the doctor’s orders. There was a misunderstanding at the district level regarding home blends versus prepackaged meals. We are always working towards making the best decision for our students and families.”
If you have a question or comment, email Mahsa at MSaeidi@WFLA.com.