Sixth-grader dies from asthma complications, no school nurse on duty

Laporshia Massey's father, Daniel Burch, questions why there was no school nurse on hand to help his daughter.

An asthma inhaler. (Credit/ParentingPatch/Wiki Commons)
An asthma inhaler. (Credit/ParentingPatch/Wiki Commons)

The father of sixth-grader Laporshia Massey says that she died from asthma complications that went untreated while she was at Bryant Elementary School in Philadelphia on the afternoon of Sept. 25.

According to Daniel Burch, he rushed Massey to the emergency room as soon as she got home from school, but it wasn’t soon enough. She collapsed in the car on the way to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she later passed away.


Burch did receive a call from someone who he assumed to be a nurse during the day alerting him that his daughter was feeling ill, but neither he, nor his fianceé, Sherri Mitchell, realized the seriousness of the situation.

Whoever called Burch and Mitchell, it wasn’t a nurse. Bryant Elementary School only has a nurse on staff two days a week and Sept. 25 was not one of those days.

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Burch believes that a trained professional would have seen the danger. "Why," he asked, "didn’t [the school] take her to the hospital? If she had problems throughout the day, why … didn’t [the school] call me sooner?"

A source within the School District of Philadelphia believes that Laporshia’s life could have been saved. "If they had called rescue, she would still be here today," the source said. "They told her school was almost out, and she’d get out of school and go straight home. She went to the teacher, who told her ‘there’s no nurse' and just to 'be calm.'"


Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, believes the shortage of nurses is dangerous.

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"We will never know whether or not having had a full-time nurse in the building would of been able to save her life. But what we do know is that there was not a nurse at the time of her illness to -- based on the training nurses have -- determine whether or not the child was in crisis, and seek medical attention from a hospital," Jordan said.

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