Girl denied inhaler at school during coughing fit because of paperwork

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WEST JORDAN, Utah - The family of a 9-year-old girl is furious after school leaders took away her inhaler during a coughing fit.

Family members told KSTU that 9-year-old Emma Gonzales was prescribed an inhaler over the weekend after a coughing fit landed her in the emergency room.

On Monday, the fourth grader began coughing again.

"When I get into the coughing fit, I kind of hurtle up on the ground, can't breathe and then I start to kind of feel a little nauseous," she said.

When Emma took her inhaler out of her backpack, her teacher sent her to the office, where staff members took the inhaler.

At that point, Emma said that she was coughing so hard that she vomited on herself.

District officials say the staff did exactly what they were supposed to do by taking away the medication.

"There could be all sorts of problems if children were just allowed to take any medication and we didn't have that verification. Again, this is for the student's safety," Sandy Riesgraf, the district spokeswoman, told KSTU.

Riesgraf says if the proper paperwork had been filled out, the inhaler would not have been taken.

Her parents say they understand the policy, but say when their daughter started getting sick, school officials should have helped.

"When a child is puking all over themselves and they can't breathe, you know, you kind of have to take action right then and there," said Britney Badger, Emma's mother.

School officials say Emma was monitored the whole time and add that they would have called 911 if they felt she was in serious danger.