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Making school peanut free

My 8 year old daughter is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish. She was diagnosed when she was 2 years old after touching peanut butter and tasting it. She immediately went into anaphylaxis shock. After Benadryl and a trip to the ER she recovered quickly. Since then my husband and I have been very pro active with her schooling. We only sent her to peanut free preschools and I would alway be apart of all camps and activities. When it was time for her to start kindergarten my real fear was realized. The public school is not peanut free and we tried to find a private school but that was too pricey. So we got her a 504 plan and I have inserted myself in school as much as they would allow. I have been class mom every year, joined the PTA, I have worked with them on safe snack lists, educating them on treatments and how to make the classrooms safer. Recently the school has been very lax on their policies. Peanut products have been allowed to entered the class room. Teachers have eaten peanut products in the same class as my daughter and they have not watch the children in the lunch room and allowed them to sit at the peanut safe table. People don't realize how one mistake can kill my daughter. Allergy children do not have a choice about this matter. They did not choose this and can't control it. I want to propose to make the school peanut free. I want to have all classrooms peanut free and have the school stop serving pb&j or products that are not peanut free.

So my question is are there any policies or laws for NJ that can help me make this happen? Is there anything I need I know or that can help before my meeting next week?

Thank you!!

By Mom of PA TNA and SHA Daughter on Thu, 05-30-13, 21:02

Well I wish I could say that my meeting went great. It was ok at best. They agreed to making teachers, parents and students more aware of food allergies. They are putting more staff on at lunch (especially the younger grades) and are talking about an awareness assembly. Other than that they won't make all classrooms peanut free unless there is a child in the class with the allergy and they won't think about stop serving pb&j or snacks with peanut products in them. They said its not fair to other students and that it will open the door to other parents that want milk or soy banned for allergy reasons. I can understand what he is saying and I know there are other allergies out there that can be dangerous like milk or eggs. I know there are lots of people that think I'm being unfair. But I'm just trying to eliminate some threat of cross contamination and would make it so much safer for the kids with PA and TNA. I mean if eating peanut butter means that much then bring it from home and sit on the peanut side of the room and teach your kids respect for others that can die from contact with the product not bully them!!!! I guess my next step is the Board of Ed.

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By mom1995 on Thu, 05-30-13, 22:36

You should NOT understand any such crap. The best example I have used year in and year out is : "Look you don't allow guns in school. It is the SAME. A pb&j sandwhich is like a loaded gun pointed at my child." I know it's extreme but it tends to help the see. The other point to make is their failure to provide your child with a safe environment make them liable. That what they are CHOOSING to do is child endangerment and they should think about that each time they CHOOSE to not do the right the thing. Comparing a reaction fo hives, or even throwing up to one that leads to death is not equal. Help them understand with the numbers. Give them the facts that not only is this allergy the number one growing allergy and that death is the consequence. You have to know the law and quote the law and let them know that you will hold not only the school and the school dist but each of them personaly responsible for her life. You may want to reach out to your school dist's 504 cordinator. In most cases each campus in a school dist has someone that is accountable for the day to day adminstration of a 504 but there is someone in the dist office who is responsible for knowing and up holding the laws to keep them out of trouble. I had to go so far as to include the superintendent. The adminstration understands that violating a 504 and endangering a child can cost a dist Federal Funding and that you have the right to sue as well.

Making your childs room nut free at this age is easy and there should be no tolerance for failure to comply. You need a list of what you want and have it written in your 504. As for the rest of the school I can only say that I just required that no nut products were served at my dd's elementary but by middle school when they stop touching every single thing we did not ask that. I also asked that they made any one that brought nut products to go wash their hands after eating. You would have thought I asked for the world on that one. I would always remind them that I could require them to provide dd with an aide to go everywhere with her and clean all surfaces. Iasked them what would that aide cost you? So lets be reasonalbe and just do the simple things that keep her safe and do not cost the school money.

Hope it helps.

By samsmom24 on Thu, 05-30-13, 14:21

My daughter is almost 3 so we don't have experience with the nut policies in the NJ public school system yet. But, I am the Support Group Leader of the "No Nuts Moms Group of North & Central NJ" https://www.facebook.com/groups/534638636560482/

Feel free to join and I am sure there are moms on the group that have more experience that can give you some advice! I would love to hear some of the answers as well since my daughter will be starting public school in a few years!

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By caitygiles on Thu, 05-30-13, 14:18

I'm new to this community, and I also have a child with a PA. I don't have any real advice, but I'll be following this closely because my son is a school in NJ that isn't peanut free as well, and I would love to see what the process is to make the school safer for him.

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