Phoenix mom claims charter school turned away her daughter because of medical condition

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Tee Kohnke said Phoenix Advantage Charter School didn't accept her daughter because of her Type 1 diabetes. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Tee Kohnke said Phoenix Advantage Charter School didn't accept her daughter because of her Type 1 diabetes. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Kohnke says the principal appeared to be overwhelmed with the supplies and instructions to care for Elara. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Kohnke says the principal appeared to be overwhelmed with the supplies and instructions to care for Elara. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Phoenix Advantage Charter School principal Leanne Bowley said her school doesn't deny students based on health needs. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Phoenix Advantage Charter School principal Leanne Bowley said her school doesn't deny students based on health needs. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Six-year-old Elara was recently diagnosed with diabetes. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Six-year-old Elara was recently diagnosed with diabetes. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

A Valley mom claims a public charter school broke the law when it turned away her daughter because of her medical condition.

Tee Kohnke says she met with officials at Phoenix Advantage Charter School on Tuesday to discuss her daughter’s Type 1 diabetes. Six-year-old Elara was recently diagnosed.

“I gave them the medicine and stuff they can keep at the school in case they needed it,” says Kohnke.

Kohnke says she brought Elara to school for the first day of class Wednesday morning and then returned to the school at lunchtime for, what she thought, was a meeting to go over Elara’s medical needs. 

Kohnke says the principal appeared to be overwhelmed with the supplies and instructions to care for Elara.

“Everybody was on the same page,” says Kohnke. “It seemed like it was only the principal that saw the stuff and was like, 'No, no, no, no.'”

Kohnke says the principal sent her away with a yellow Post-it note with a list of other schools.

“Once she handed me this I was like, 'OK, so I kind of understood where we were standing at that point,'” says Kohnke.

Phoenix Advantage Charter School principal Leanne Bowley said she could not talk specifically about Elara, but said the school does not deny students based on medical needs.

“Never,” says Bowley. “Never would be. That's illegal.”

Bowley says in similar situations, a student would not be allowed to attend until the school received guidance from a physician and training to care for the child.

“It might be that, as Mom, I perceive that this is no big deal, right? Then the child arrives at school, and we have a lot of questions,” says Bowley. “So we might want to come back together, come up with a care plan that's well articulated.”

Phoenix Advantage does not have a nurse on campus. Bowley says it’s due to a budget issue. Even though the school has had a diabetic child in attendance before, Bowley says each child has a different care plan.

Kohnke feels the school has suddenly changed its position after speaking with attorneys. Even though Bowley says the doors to Phoenix Advantage remain open for first-grader Elara, Kohnke says she’s shopping around for a better fit.

“Elara's so young,” says Kohnke. “And I don’t want her to feel like she's a burden to everyone around her.”

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