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Private School Rights

My 11 yr old son has life-threatening allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, and milk. He has been going to a private school since prek3. Every year they have made the classroom peanut free, given him a peanut free table to eat lunch at, and have allowed me to bring substitute items in for the class/him in relation to food activities. They have also implemented hand washing and wiping surfaces. My question is - now that he is going into middle school and eating inside an auditorium with 6 different grades, what is the "norm" and what rights to I have for him (being that it is a private school). The principal has told me since day 1 that as he gets older, he will need to be more responsible for himself. I understand that completely. However, my son is 11 and I feel that it is still the schools responsibility to protect him and provide a safe environment for him to eat lunch and still be included. I already know that the option of removing peanuts/tree nuts is non-existent. Curious as to any others out there dealing with allergies in a private school setting.

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By smithdcrk on Thu, 08-21-14, 14:52

Unless your private school receives federal funding, they are not obligated to provide services that normally would be handled by a 504 plan. My daughter attends public school, and is covered by a 504 severe allergy: what to do IF, no peanuts as instructional aids or reward, definition of safe zones. The cafeteria is not and never will be peanut free - but her personal space can be.

She brings her own lunch. She wipes down the table (or she should!). If any of her friends has Peanut Butter or similar products they eat at least one seat away. Enough have other types of lunches so there is rarely an empty seat near her. Her friends take pride in being a buffer for her.

On her sports and science teams, the parents and kids have agreed not to eat peanut products on the bus or if they share a room with her. They didn't have to, but the coaches emphasized what being a team means and that means looking out for each other.

Most teachers do not want to put a child at risk. The key is communication. One English teacher gave out snickers bars all day and encouraged her classes to enjoy the treats in class (end of the semester fun!). When DD came into 7th period, she saw the wrappers, asked for a lysol wipe to clean her desk and abstained. It happens. DD also abstains from ALL baked goods unless they come from a trusted source.

Even with a 504 we cannot enforce a peanut-free school. The 504 gives us a formal route to establish negotiate a safer environment. But even that is only about access to the education not inclusion. As long as she receives the same education, schools have a lot of flexibility. The peanut free table may be a corner in the admin office. Ta-da, they have a peanut free eating area. I wish it were easier.

Principals are correct, as the child age they must take more responsibility for their safety. With so many children, there is no way the middle school could be peanut free and enforce it. At 11, my daughter carried her epi pens and allergy response kit with her everywhere. Her friends served as her no-peanut-zone buffer at lunch. She has to be the one, sometimes, to remind her teachers and propose alternatives (Could we stop at Chili's or Red Robin instead of Texas Roadhouse?). Twice this summer she had team activities where the venue was not supportive of allergies at all - so she carried ALL her food in a cooler and left it with the coach. I couldn't be there ate all. Independence.

By hummus lover on Thu, 08-21-14, 14:16

Here are your rights.....taking the kid out of school. IIt's a private school.

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By DeepDiveAdmin on Thu, 08-21-14, 20:16

Dear Hummus Lover,

All opinions are welcome here. However, trolling is not.

If you would like to engage in an actual discussion, great. If you are just going harass people, please find something else to do with your time.

Regards,
PeanutAllergy Site Mangement

By rebelinh on Fri, 05-09-14, 19:08

We actually homeschool but went to public school up until 4th grade. My biggest suggestion for schools is rather than have a "peanut free" table where it limits those with allergies, why not have one designated "peanut table" where those who have nuts in their lunch eat. I find it's generally a small amount of students who bring but items but can't find a reason how it's not a fair solution. Why ostracize those who don't have a choice? All children deserve a safe learning and eating environment without needing to worry and schools should provide that.

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