PTA Council continues to advocate

Group raises awareness of how HIPAA laws affect students, parents


Representatives from the East Meadow School District’s PTA Council attended the 117th Annual New York State PTA Convention in Saratoga Springs in November. The conference, attended by hundreds of PTA representatives throughout the state, comprises educational workshops as well as sessions that allow participants to enact change through written resolutions. If adopted by the state PTA, the resolution will make its way up to lawmakers, who can use its basis to introduce legislation or amend current laws.

East Meadow’s representatives included the same trio who attended last year’s conference, Donna La Scala, Maria Smith and President Tracy Allred Pulice, with one addition — Allred Pulice’s daughter, Ashley Allred, 18, a senior at East Meadow High School.

This year, the group drafted a statement of concern — or a preliminary to a resolution — which they read and submitted during the convention. The purpose of the statement, said La Scala, was to bring awareness to the fact that children over 18 are legally responsible for making their own medical decisions, something they — and many parents — might be unaware of.

HIPAA laws state that individuals over the age of 18 must give consent for any person, including parents or guardians, to receive medical information. But the concern, said La Scala, is that it’s not something that becomes widely known unless an emergency occurs.

La Scala said the statement’s inspiration came from her daughter, Alexandra, who has a severe food allergy. Alexandra is 24 now, but at 17, she had her first allergic reaction while away at college, requiring hospitalization. At the time, EMS officials were on the phone with La Scala the entire time, she said.

A few months later, when Alexandra had another allergic reaction, the circumstances changed. “The second time it happened, she was 18,” La Scala said, “and [hospital officials] wouldn’t tell us anything until she was actually able to sign the release form.”

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