OAKLAND -- The state Department of Education will inform school districts across California that they must have staff to help students with insulin shots, monitoring blood glucose and other needs associated with students with diabetes.

At a press conference in Oakland today, state schools Superintendent Jack O'Connell said this stance is his interpretation of existing state law outlining what schools must provide for students covered by "individualized education plans" addressing health concerns.

Today's statements from O'Connell represent a settlement of a lawsuit brought in October 2005 by three Danville parents, a fourth from Fremont and the American Diabetes Association filed a lawsuit Tuesday to require California public schools to assist in insulin injections and provide other help for diabetic students.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, named the San Ramon Valley and Fremont school districts, the state Department of Education and the superintendents and governing boards of those agencies as defendants. It claimed the public schools the plaintiff parents' children attended would not provide such help -- in the process denying those students the education to which they are entitled.

Schools do not necessarily have to provide nurses to perform these tasks, O'Connell said, but must train others if nurses cannot to be stationed at each school campus, for budgetary or other reasons.

School districts have generally been wary of having anyone other than trained medical personnel get involved with tasks such as giving shots or taking blood sugar readings, with liability exposure a primary worry. That exposure will not change, however.

The 2005 suit claimed the San Ramon Valley district refused to make sure a fifth grader at Rancho Romero Elementary in San Ramon checks her blood glucose when she should, and that the district rejected her parents' request that someone supervise the student when she uses her insulin pump.

O'Connell said letters will be sent to school districts shortly informing them that personnel must be available at every school where such help is requested.