Laporshia Massey, 12, had problems breathing for much of the day at Bryant Elementary School in Philadelphia on Sept. 25.
Because of deep budget cuts to Philadelphia schools there is a nurse at Bryant only two days out of the week. The nurse wasn't there on the day when Massey had her asthma attack.
Massey's father Daniel Burch told Philadelphia City Paper that someone from the school called him towards the end of the day. Apparently, Burch didn't realize how badly his daughter was in distress and told her over the phone that he would take care of her when she got home.
The school did provide Massey a ride home, but Burch wants to know, "If she had problems throughout the day, why... didn’t [the school] call me sooner? Why didn’t [the school] take her to the hospital?”
Burch's fiancee, Sherri Mitchell, said Massey called her and stated, “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.”
When Massey got home at 3:15 p.m., her dad gave her medication and rushed his daughter to the emergency room, but she later died at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
An anonymous school district source told the Philadelphia City Paper, “They told her school was almost out, and she’d get out of school and go straight home. She went to the teacher, who told her there’s no nurse, and just to be calm. If they had called rescue, she would still be here today."
The reason there was no nurse at the school that day is funding.
In 2011, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett (R) approved $961 million in cuts for the state's public schools, plus another $94 million in 2012, reported PennLive.com.
In response to the state cuts, Philadelphia had to close 23 schools this year because of a $304 million deficit, noted MSNBC.
In 2011, there were 289 nurses for the schools, but today there are 179.
“Without the school nurse, at a minimum, persistent errors in judgment will result in a child getting a substandard education,” explained school nurse Eileen Duffey. “In worst-case scenarios, life-threatening conditions may surface while a child is in school and go unnoticed.”