School Board Notes • May 30, 2012 Vol. XXXV No. 44

NJSBA News

New Law Protects Medically Fragile Students

Gov. Chris Christie recently signed into law a bill that increases safety for "medically fragile students" who suffer from a life-threatening condition requiring more individualized and continuous care than can be provided by a school nurse.

Before the law was enacted earlier this month, schools could contract with any nursing company or vendor, even if they were not trained to handle the student's unique health needs, according sponsors of the bill, S-375.

The new law sets minimum standards for providers of clinical nursing services to medically fragile students. It requires those providers meet the same criteria needed to be Medicaid approved or to participate in the NJ Family Care Program – standards that providers may or may not have met before the law was enacted.

In addition, the law gives parents and guardians of medically fragile students the ability to choose the provider of the clinical nursing services, as long as it does not increase costs for the school district.

NJSBA supported the legislation, which took effect immediately upon its May 2 enactment.

The legislation states that "medically fragile students are often diagnosed with medical conditions and life-threatening diseases, including cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, and other neurological diseases that require mechanical ventilation and emergent intervention by providers of clinical nurse services while attending school."