Public schools generally do not allow students to self-administer medications, since it could open the school to liability and abuse problems (such as students selling prescription drugs to other students). But since students may have legitimate medical needs, most states have laws and procedures for dispensing medications to students. Check our state-by-state directory of laws on schools' authority to administer medication and drugs:
ALABAMA: The state has published "recommended guidelines" prepared by an advisory task force comprised of members from Alabama's State Department of Education and the Alabama Department of Public Health. The policy differs from others in that it expressly notes that school nurses may not delegate the administration of medications to unlicensed personnel, pursuant to Alabama's Nurse Practice Act (Title 34-21-1) and the 1993 state guidelines for Delegation of Nursing Functions to Assistive Personnel. The guidelines "are not meant to be regulatory" for local education agencies (LEAs), but intend to offer "best practice" recommendations. The guidelines allow for self-administration of prescription medication by students if permitted by local school board policy.
ALASKA: No applicable provisions.
ARIZONA: Title 15 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, Chapter 15-344, provides for the administration of prescription, patent, or proprietary medications by school employees. The law delegates authority to establish policies and procedures to local school district governing boards.
ARKANSAS: No applicable provisions.
CALIFORNIA: The California Education Code 49423, 49423.6 requires the state board of education to adopt regulations regarding the administration of prescription medication in public schools. There is no express delegation of authority.
COLORADO: Colorado Dept. of Reg. Agencies, Chapter XIII, Section 7, and Colorado Board of Health Regulations, Chapter 9, Section 105, address school administration of medications. There is no ex- press delegation of authority.
CONNECTICUT: Connecticut General Statute 10-212a, as well as Connecticut State Agencies Regulation 10-212a-2, 5, and 6 authorize school boards of education to adopt written policies. A new Connecticut law passed in 2001 (the first of its kind in the nation) expressly prohibits teachers, counselors, and other school personnel from recommending psychiatric drugs for schoolchildren. The state requires schools to document any skipped dose and the reasons for it.
DELAWARE: The Code of Delaware Regulations 72-000-008, Section 800-9, is applicable to school nurses; there is no express delegation of authority.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: D. C. Code 31-2432 to 2434 requires the D. C. Board of Education and Department of Human Services to issue joint rules and regulations. D.C. schools must obtain authorization from the student's parent or guardian, as well as orders/instructions from the licensed physician before administering medication.
FLORIDA: Florida Statutes Annotated 232.46 requires district school boards to adopt local policies and procedures.
GEORGIA: No applicable provisions.
HAWAII: Hawaii Revised Statute 321-242 establishes a statewide school health services program, including statewide requirements for medication administration. Hawaii Administrative Code 11-146-4 is also applicable.
IDAHO: No applicable provisions.
ILLINOIS: 105 Illinois Compiled Statutes Annotated 5/10-20.14b requires school boards to develop local policies for school administration of medication.
INDIANA: Indiana's 511 Indiana Administrative Code 7-21-8 establishes written medication administration policies for public schools operating special education programs only.
IOWA: Iowa Administrative Code 41.12(11) requires local education agencies offering special education programs to establish medication administration policies.
KANSAS: No applicable provisions.
KENTUCKY: No applicable provisions.
LOUISIANA: Louisiana Revised Statute 17:436.1 prescribes policies for delegating of administration of medications in schools to unlicensed personnel. Louisiana Administrative Code 28:1.929 requires school boards to establish guidelines consistent with state policy.
MAINE: 20-A Maine Revised Statutes Annotated, Section 254, Subsection 5, requires schools to adopt local written policies and procedures.
MARYLAND: The Annotated Code of Maryland, Education 7-401, in conjunction with Administrative Regulation 13A.05.05.08, and.10 require county boards of education to adopt policies for administration and storage of medication within school systems.
MASSACHUSETTS: Massachusetts was one of the earliest to have a statute in place, dating from the early 1970s. New regulations were promulgated in 1993, and old ones were updated. Four statutes in the Massachusetts General Laws are pertinent. Chapter 71, Section 53, requires registered nurses in all public school districts; Chapter 94C, the Controlled Substance Act, gives the Commissioner of Public Health authority to make certain exceptions for delegation of duties to unlicensed personnel; Chapter 112 (The Nurse Practice Act) has been amended to include regulations governing the delegation of nursing tasks; and Chapter 71, Section 54B contains registration requirements for students receiving medications. 105 Code of Massachusetts Reg. 210.003 to 210.009 requires schools to adopt local policies consistent with the above laws and regulations.
MICHIGAN: MCL 380.1178 (Revised School Code, Act 451 of 1976) was amended in March 2000, to provide immunity from criminal or civil actions for school personnel who administer medication to pupils pursuant to parent/physician authorizations and instructions. The law does not protect gross negligence or willful and wanton misconduct. There is no express delegation of authority.
MINNESOTA: Minnesota Statutes Annotated 121A.22 requires local school boards to develop prescription medication administration procedures in conjunction with health care professionals.
MISSISSIPPI: No applicable provisions.
MISSOURI: Chapter 167 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, "Pupils and Special Services," Section 167.627 (August 2001) addresses state requirements of self-administered medications for asthma "or other potentially life-threatening respiratory illnesses." Section 167.181 discusses compulsory immunizations. Section 167.191 expressly prohibits children with contagious diseases from attending school, with penalties of "not less than five nor more than one hundred dollars" for violations.
MONTANA: No applicable provisions.
NEBRASKA: Nebraska Revised Statutes 71-6718 to 6742, in conjunction with Nebraska Administrative Code, Chapters 59 and 95, regulate the administration of medication in schools by unlicensed personnel through competency assessments and procedural requirements.
NEVADA: Nevada Administrative Code 632.226 requires school nurses (rather than local school boards) to develop procedures.
NEW JERSEY: Concerning self-administration of medication by school pupils for asthma, Public Law 2001, c.061 (S1372 2R) amends Public Law 1993, c.308, and supplements Chapter 40 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes. In addition, New Jersey Administrative Code 6A:16-2.3 requires district boards of education to adopt written policies.
NEW MEXICO: New Mexico, through its 6 N.M. Administrative Code 220.127.116.11.11.3.2(d) requires the supervisory school nurse to develop and implement written policies and procedures for clinical services, including the administration of medication.
NEW YORK: No applicable provisions.
NORTH CAROLINA: North Carolina General Statute 115C-307(c) authorizes school boards of education to permit school personnel to administer prescriptive medications with parents' written authorizations.
NORTH DAKOTA: No applicable provisions.
OHIO: Ohio Revised Code 3313.713 requires local school boards of education to adopt policies permitting school employees to administer medication. In February 2000, Ohio became the 50th state to allow advanced-practice nurses to prescribe medication (under physician supervision). In school settings, they have no independent authority to prescribe.
OKLAHOMA: Under 70 Oklahoma Statutes Annotated 1-116.2, school nurses and other school personnel must administer medications according to statutory requirements, which contain no express delegation of authority.
OREGON: Oregon Revised Statutes 339.869 and 339.870, in conjunction with Oregon Administrative Rule 581-021-0037, require local school district boards to adopt policies.
PENNSYLVANIA: Pennsylvania has no statutory authority, but it has a regulation, 22 Pa. Code 7.13 that requires school districts to develop medication administration policies that are consistent with state department of health guidelines. Title 24 (Education) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Annotated, PSA 24-13, Article XIV, School Health Services, Sections 13-1413 and 13-1414 address supplemental duties of school physicians and care and treatment of pupils.
RHODE ISLAND: Title 16 (Education), Chapter 16-21 (Health and Safety of Pupils), Section 16-21-22 provides for self-medication by students who have provided schools with medical documentation. The law also provides for immunity from civil damages for those negligently administering epinephrine or prescription inhalers; it does not protect gross negligence or willful/wanton conduct from liability. The Code of R.I. Rules 14-000-011, Section 18 requires schools to develop procedures that include specified minimum requirements.
SOUTH CAROLINA: No applicable provisions, but the Charleston County School District has policies comparable to most states.
SOUTH DAKOTA: Article 46:13 addresses medication administration, including self-administration, through delegation of tasks generally within the purview of licensed registered nurses. There is no express mention of application to schools.
TENNESSEE: Tennessee Code Annotated 49-5-415 requires licensed health care professionals to administer medications, but school boards may authorize unlicensed personnel to assist students with self-administration.
TEXAS: House Bill 1688, signed into law by Governor Perry in June 2001, amends Texas Chapter 38, Education Code, to add provisions regarding self-administration of prescription asthma medicine by public school students while on school property or at school-related events or activities. School-based Health Centers and their services are generally discussed in Chapter 38.011. Texas Education Code 22.052 provides for immunity from civil liability conditioned upon the adoption of compliant school district policies.
UTAH: Utah Code Annotated 53A-11-601 authorizes schools to develop policies.
VERMONT: Vermont has no statutory guidance, but Code of Vermont Rule 22-000-006, Section 4220, requires schools to incorporate specified procedures into their local administration regulations.
VIRGINIA: The Code of Virginia, as amended, Section 22.1-274.2 and Section 22.1-78, address self-administration by students of asthma medication; permissions are granted for each school year and renewed annually. The Code delegates to local school superintendents the authority to establish additional regulations for administration of medicines to students. The Code of Virginia 54.1-3408 authorizes school boards to train employees to administer drugs.
WASHINGTON: The Revised Code of Washington, RCW 28A.210.260, addresses administration of oral medication in public and private schools. It delegates policy-making to public school districts and private schools. RCW 28A.210.270 expressly provides for immunity from liability for school employees.
WEST VIRGINIA: West Virginia Code of State Rules 126-25-1 and 126-27-1 establish standards for administration of oral, topical, and emergency medication in West Virginia public schools by persons not licensed as health care providers. Code 18-5-22a requires school boards of education to develop policies.
WISCONSIN: Wisconsin Statute 118.29 requires school boards to develop policies, including authorizing school employees to administer medications.
WYOMING: The Wyoming Administrative Code, Education, Chapter 6, Section 17(a)(i)(F) requires school districts to establish local programs for handling, storage, and administration of medications.
*Important Notice and Disclaimer: Because laws are constantly subject to change and be amended over time, some or all of the above laws and regulations may not necessarily be current. It is therefore advisable to check with a local attorney in your area who can advise you about the status of education laws in your state and local district.