Medical Educational Placement


Photo courtesy of CYN Central

There are many members of the FUHSD community who have to balance health issues like eating disorders, depression, anxiety and even cancer on top of the challenges of a high school education. These students are often on a Medical Educational Placement, receiving education either exclusively at home, the hospital, a residential facility outside the district, the Educational Options Center or some combination of these with the school. 

There are over 40 students in this school district who are on an MEP. An MEP is provided to students who are medically excused from regular school attendance due to a chronic or temporary illness or disability that is projected to continue beyond three weeks. All districts are required to have a program to support home and hospital programs, designated as part of the California education code 48206.3. The key however is to design a program that not only meets the standards of the code, but also meets the needs of the students. 

“The success is when a student achieves stronger health in a treatment and we are still able to help provide some type of education,” Nancy Sullivan, the Director of Educational and Special Services, said. “It is a very difficult balance because we want to emphasize the need for medical treatment and know that students want to stay involved in school just like all their friends.”

Taking an exam or even doing a class with a pounding headache or while recovering from surgery is often what these students deal with. Families are often in crisis when they reach out for help with home teaching. Sullivan emphasizes that health always comes first and it is okay to take education slow. Carmen Zarate, the FUHSD MEP assistant, advises MEP students to keep the line of communication open with their home teacher so that they can get the most out of their education. Those who are fortunate enough to get better from their treatments and return to school are helped through an Individual Healthcare Plan, which is often supported by the school nurse, Ms Jung Hong.

One of the other big challenges that students on MEP face is feeling isolated from other students and teachers. As Miley, a student on an MEP, explains, while the MEP program has helped her with her education, it has meant that she has not been able to form genuine connections with students and teachers. As such, teachers recognize the absence of this communication.

“One thing that is often not talked about is the social connections that students benefit from in a school environment,” Ben Chang, English teacher and home tutor, said. “Being isolated from their peers can really impact the mental well being and overall development of MEP students.”

MEP students are dealing with medical issues, a full education course load, and the challenges of social isolation. So, the next time you meet a student on an MEP, please be aware of their special challenges and make that extra effort to have them feel connected with you and the rest of the school community.