Dozens of Philly school nurses face layoffs

PHILADELPHIA - December 6, 2011

His mother, Jasmin Gonzalez, says he not only needs a slew of medication, he needs his school nurse whose job is on the chopping block.

"I'm already petrified as it is with him going to school and having this medical condition," Gonzalez said.

School nurses packed a classroom in South Philadelphia High School and voiced their concerns Tuesday night.

Tomorrow, their principals will hand over midyear budget proposals to the Philadelphia School District.

51 nurses are expected to be laid off and 18 vacancies won't be filled, freeing up $5.1-million.

"We have some very sick children; we also bring money to the district because we can bill access, Medicaid," retired school nurse Marvel Joyce said.

For every 850 students there will be one nurse, well within the state's legal requirement of 1,500 to one.

The district says schools with the most medically fragile students will be covered.

"The district runs the risk of being sued because an adult who is responsible for giving that medication to a youngster or youngsters may mix up medication," Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said.

Sharon McGeehan, a South Philadelphia High School nurse, says she has had some close calls.

"I came close to delivering two babies, but I called 911, got them coming, but I was ready," McGeehan said.

Sammy's mother doesn't want any close calls.

"That is my worry, that they tell me we were not able to assist him properly because we don't know, we are not a nurse and your son passed away," Gonzalez said.

Once principals submit their proposed cuts tomorrow, the district will take a few days to review them and possibly make changes.

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