Lenore Skenazy Shows Public School Will Damage Children for the Sake of Policy

A girl was allowed to suffer a coughing fit that led to vomit because public school policy required inhaler to have her name on it.

Lenore Skenazy regularly writes at Reason.com and has covered several amazing stories about how officials attack parents for violating rules about child-rearing that they make up. She also covered this wonderful story about a judge who showed some common sense in the area of child endangerment charges.

On her Free Range Kids blog, she recently pointed out this story from last week: “9-year-old girl denied inhaler during coughing fit at school, per district policy.”

A nine-year-old girl was denied her inhaler during a coughing fit at school in West Jordan because staff were not notified of the child’s prescription, Jordan School District officials told FOX 13.

Emma Gonzales obtained an inhaler over the weekend after a coughing fit landed her in the emergency room. On Monday, the fourth grader was hit with another coughing spell in class at Columbia Elementary.

When Emma took her inhaler out to use it, her teacher sent her to the office, where staff took the inhaler.

Emma said she started coughing so hard she threw up on her pants.

“When I get into the coughing fit, I kind of hurtle up on the ground, can’t breathe and then I start to kind of feel a little nauseous,” Emma said.

The fact that this happened is upsetting, but it is not nearly as enraging as the school’s response.

District officials say the staff did everything right by taking the medication to make sure it was for that specific student.

The inhaler doesn’t have Emma’s name on it and the school had not been notified that she was taking the medication.

“There could be all sorts of problems if children were just allowed to take any medication and we didn’t have that verification. Again, this is for the student’s safety,” said district spokeswoman Sandy Riesgraf.

District policy is that parents must fill out paperwork regarding what their child is taking for medication so school administrators know about it. If proper paperwork is filled out, district policy allows children to administer medications to themselves.


District officials say Emma was monitored the entire time and if they felt she was in serious danger, they would have called 911.

Are teachers really that lacking in common sense that they would rather call an ambulance than simply give a child with a coughing fit an inhaler? Is there some trend of kids trying to use dangerous drugs through an inhaler? As Skenazy commented,

They certainly didn’t let the girl use her inhaler, for one simple reason: her name wasn’t on it.

So of course they had to grab it away. I mean, just because SHE brought it in and SHE needed it — thanks to the fact that SHE gets coughing fits — there was really no way to ascertain whether the inhaler was really hers. It could be anyone’s!

And besides, it’s a drug, and all drugs are evil.  Inhaler. Crack pipe. What’s the diff? 

My general conclusion is that “school authorities” are insane. It is only a matter of time before some kid dies because a school has lost the paperwork that the parents filled out. There are times to look for documentation. There are also times for normal people to make decisions based on what is happening in front of their eyes. By making everyone operate according to a policy manual in the middle of a medical emergency, the school is increasing inefficiency and endangering students.

The fact they can justify such dangerous neglect as best for the children shows us that they are not open to reason.