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Law Will Allow Woburn Students to Carry Epi-Pens

Bill filed by Rep. Jay Kaufman was signed by Gov. Deval Patrick.

 

A new bill signed by Gov. Deval Patrick will allow students to carry Epi-pens in schools. The bill was signed last week, nearly 10 years after a Woburn mother proposed the law in 2004.

The bill—H. 3959, “An Act Relative To Access To Epinephrine In Schools”—was sponsored annually by Rep. Jay Kaufman until it passed in 2012. Along with Kaufman, Rep. Cory Atkins, Rep. John D. Keenan, Rep. George Ross, Rep. Kate Hogan, Rep. Denise Andrews and Sen. Karen Spilka sponsored the legislation.

Freedom Road resident Laurel Francoeur proposed the bill to Kaufman in 2004, as her son was ready to enter Kindergarten in the Woburn Public Schools.

"I was told that his Epi-pen (his life-saving medication) could only be kept in the nurse's office," recalled Francoeur. "I was afraid that because the nurse's office was far from his classroom, he might not be able to get to his medicine in time to save his life."

Francoeur began to wonder if legislation was possible to allow students to carry their own Epi-pens or have them in their classrooms, easily accessible in the case of an emergency.

An incident in which her child did need his Epi-pen while in school occurred in December of 2005, when the nurse was out of the building. Francoeur was able to reach her son and administer the life-saving drug.

"I hated to think of what would have happened had I not been there on time to give him the medicine that was otherwise unaccessible," she said.

After that incident, Francoeur approached Kaufman, who championed the Woburn mom's cause.

Without Kaufman's support, Francoeur told Patch that the legislation would not have been passed. In appreciation, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America New England Chapter (AAFA) is planning to honor Kaufman at an April event.

Since 2005, Francoeur has become active in championing health-related causes in Woburn schools. She is a member of the Woburn Schools Wellness Committee and helped draft policies for the district. She is also the Massachusetts representative to the Food Allergy Initiative, now the Food Allergy Research and Education committee.

Frank Kautz January 14, 2013 at 02:23 PM
Why this was not addressed under the Americans with Disabilities Act, I will never know. If I had a kid who needed an epi-pen, you can be sure I would have sued the state to make sure that the Federal ADA law was adhered to and that not only would my kid have their epi-pen with them at all times, but all of their teachers and the other teachers in the building would be trained to use it.. Frank Kautz
Danielle Masterson January 14, 2013 at 02:56 PM
Hi Frank! I believe that some school districts already allowed students to carry Epi-pens, without the law. When I was a teacher, I held Epi-pens for three students who had peanut allergies. The students were also allowed to carry their own. But this law would require all school districts to allow it. It's definitely something that will help many students!
dan January 16, 2013 at 11:43 AM
Communities require collage up to a Master’s and Doctorate’s degrees for teaching and administration at public schools. However, with all this education, where was the common sense in this matter? Furthermore, most people don’t have money to pay for a lawyer to sue the state under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It seems the schools or teachers were Epi-pens are allowed before the law took the child safety first; nevertheless, they should not been forced to break a law to allow for student safety. Communities need more common sense.

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