Against the law to mandate a classroom nut free?

Posted on: Fri, 08/25/2006 - 7:26am
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

My son started Kindergarten last week and after speaking with the School Director I was told that it's against the law for them to mandate a nut-free classroom. The school is a small charter school in CA. They did say they'd send a letter home with parents requesting that they do not send any nuts or not products to school and we're implementing handwashing routines and etc.

I'm just not sure that it's true that they can't mandate the classroom nut-free. I can't find anything on the net about it.

My child is severely allergic to all nuts. He has Epi Pens and an inhaler. The allergist spoke w/the school admin and they have no problems w/the Epi Pens and the inhaler being with my son at all times.

I've been doing a lot of reading here these past few nights and I'm confused about the 504 thing too. Does the school district approve or disapprove it? What are the reasons I'd want to file for that? I know there's a lot of info but if you could just give it to me in a 'nutshell' (bad choice of words there) I'd appreciate it.

Thank you!

Posted on: Fri, 08/25/2006 - 7:31am
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

I don't know how to edit but I wanted to add that the school has only once class per grade level and they don't have a cafeteria. The kids eat in their classroom on the same tables that they do their work on. (The school serves no food whatsoever) Per the school admin that's why they can't mandate a nut free classroom.
------------------
Tracy

Posted on: Fri, 08/25/2006 - 7:56am
Corvallis Mom's picture
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Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

Can't "mandate?" Can't "control?" Or can't "guarantee?" Different things.
Can they mandate a "no weapons" policy at school? Can they enforce a "mandate" about dress code? Can they mandate "standards of behavior?"
Well, then. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img] I wouldn't send my child to any school that can't control the classroom environment. Would you? In other words, they're saying "can't" when what they mean is "won't."
As for 504 in a "nutshell" the best places to look are probably in one of the threads up on top of the board right now... there is one running from a parent in NJ who is deciding whether to push for one, and there is quite a lengthy thread about "Why not obtaining a 504 is a disservice...." which talks about all of the myths you may hear/think about the process.
A 504 plan is a written document that clearly outlines how to make sure your child is both safe AND included at school. (It might say that your child needs to eat [i]with[/i] his classmates.... and that someone must always be with him who is trained how to use his epipen... things like that.) It is enforced by the Federal Office of Civil Rights, as section 504 is a provision of federal disability legislation. To obtain one, a committee must deem your child "disabled" under the provisions of the law-- otherwise they are ineligible for its protections.
[i]PS-- to edit messages, roll your mouse over the icons at the top of your post. You'll see one that has an edit function... only you can edit your messages.[/i]

Posted on: Fri, 08/25/2006 - 7:58am
trishia30's picture
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Joined: 08/11/2006 - 09:00

I wanted to add also that the office of Civil right gave me some great information to give to my school about peanut free classrooms and the legality. I was assigned to a lawyet when I called and they have been helping me to get any legal information I need to free.
HTH,
Trish

Posted on: Fri, 08/25/2006 - 8:24am
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Thank you for your replies. I have been reading a lot of the threads here especially the topics relating to the 504. I will continue to research that.
As far as the school not being able to "mandate" a nut-free classroom they said they spoke with their lawyer and that they can't tell parents what their kids can eat and can't eat at school. My thoughts were somewhat the same about other things they "mandate". On one hand I'm happy they're working with us in requesting that the parents don't send nuts and nut by-products and thus reducing the risk but by not "mandating" a nut free classroom we all have to be on our toes about handwashing and more. (The classroom has no sink so they use buckets of soapy water communal style. (I have told them I'd supply antibacterial wipes for the kids to use for their hands and for washing down the tables. It just doesn't seem like enough in that my son's allergies are so severe.
The School Superintendant in today's meeting told me they can't mandate that "Janie can't have a pb&j sandwich because what if that's all Janie will eat? It's a staple of a little kids diet". *eyeroll* <--- that's me. Anyway, in leaving the meeting I was relieved they're going to train the staff in the use of my son's meds and that they're requesting that the parents don't send nut related foods but the other part of my brain tells me that's still leaving my son in great danger.
I'm a wreck.

Posted on: Fri, 08/25/2006 - 8:36am
anonymous's picture
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Here's the letter that went out to parents today:
Dear Kindergarten Parents,
Please be aware that we have a kindergarten student, R D, who has a life-threatening allergy to all nuts and nut by-products. Even a slight exposure to the skin will cause a severe allergic reaction in R, to the extent that he may go into anaphylactic shock and require a dose of Epinephrine and then have to the hospital.
Sice we are a public school, we cannot mandate a nut-free classroom. However, we do ask that you try and respect this student's needs by not sending your child with nuts or any products containing nuts. This includes peanut oil, peanut butter and almond oil (often found in lotions). Please do not send your child with loose raw nuts or trail mix since these can fall to the floor, leave traces of oils that cannot be cleaned, and can then come into contact with R causing him to have an allergic reaction.
In addition, please talk with your child about not sharing their food. R can never partake of any snacks not brought from his home. .
If you have any questions, or would like more information about food products that may be harmful, please contact R's mother, Tracy D, at xxx-xxxx. There is a list of alternative safe snacks attached to this letter.
Thank you so much for your support in keeping all our children safe, happy and healthy.
(signed by School Director)
Would you be happy with that? At first I was so relieve they're actually doing something and trying to help minimize the risk but now after some though I think we're still risking too much.
Any thoughts?
[This message has been edited by ~*Trace*~ (edited August 25, 2006).]

Posted on: Fri, 08/25/2006 - 9:02am
Corvallis Mom's picture
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I'd be [i]VERY VERY[/i] unhappy that they are forcing [i]you[/i] into a position of acting as the "food police" by sending home a letter which openly identifies [b]you and your child by name[/b] and [i]advocates other parents calling on you at your home to discuss safe food choices.[/i]
Did you give them permission to do this??
I would definitely argue for different verbiage in this letter-- something to the effect of efforts to keep nuts out of your child's environment being VOLUNTARY, as opposed to them coming right out and saying that they won't do anything about it.
Why won't they even ask other parents to comply??
And by the way-- being a "public school"? This means they can't deny your child access, (assuming he's 504 eligible). Janey who won't eat anything else can have her fix at home. Last time I checked there isn't a federal law protecting her "rights" to do as she pleases... There is no "reasonable" clause in the educational portion of the law. They have to do whatever is [i]necessary[/i] for him to have the [i]same access as his non-disabled peers[/i]. That would include little Janey with the pb+j. Her access to education isn't threatened.
And the communal bucket-o-soapy water in the classroom? Bad idea if there will be nut containing products there at all. You have a long long battle in order to educate these people into understanding just how little it takes and for that matter, into simply understanding the basic notion of invisible traces of anything being transferred from one surface to another. Yikes.

Posted on: Fri, 08/25/2006 - 9:35am
Gail W's picture
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Joined: 12/06/2001 - 09:00

Oy. Your administrators are idiots.
Corvallis Mom has given you great advice aned I second it. These aren't "your" policies/practices/procedures, these belong to the school. It is the school who will mandate and enforce what happens in the classroom, not a parent. They are putting you in a very bad position. Don't do it.
Quote:Originally posted by ~*Trace*~:
[b]As far as the school not being able to "mandate" a nut-free classroom they said they spoke with their lawyer and that they can't tell parents what their kids can eat and can't eat at school. [/b]
That's **** . I'd ask them to put that in writing and watch them back down. There are nut-free (and food-free classrooms BTW) all over the country.
Quote:Originally posted by ~*Trace*~:
[b] (The classroom has no sink so they use buckets of soapy water communal style. (I have told them I'd supply antibacterial wipes for the kids to use for their hands and for washing down the tables. It just doesn't seem like enough in that my son's allergies are so severe. [/b]
This is unbelievable! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/mad.gif[/img] You're going to have a mob of angry parents who very justifiably will object to this [i]and blame you[/i] because of the letter where the school clearly (and cleverly) points to YOU as the reason for any changes. This could even be a board of health violation! Do you have a school nurse? Surely she would object to a "community bucket"!
Quote:Originally posted by ~*Trace*~:
[b]The School Superintendant in today's meeting told me they can't mandate that "Janie can't have a pb&j sandwich because what if that's all Janie will eat? It's a staple of a little kids diet". [/b]
Again, **** . Schools all over have made such "mandates". And his schools already have all kinds of mandates already about food . . . such as "snack time". Kids just don't whip out a candy bar in the middle of a teacher's lesson, do they?
Go here: [url="http://www.allergysupport.org"]www.allergysupport.org[/url] and read, read, read.
You're dealing with a bunch of idiots and it's no wonder you're a wreck. But take a breath, read Rhonda's site, the School board here. You can do this.

Posted on: Fri, 08/25/2006 - 9:43am
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Ugh. I did give them permission to use my son's name hoping that maybe if we personalize this the parents would be receptive. I guess I was feeling at a loss of what to do and I was willing to do anything. I did also tell them that parents were free to contact me and ask me questions if they had any. I'm a schmuck and so clueless and desperate to make my baby safe.
As far as the school nurse I guess she's new and they haven't even met her yet *eyeroll*. Also, she will rarely come around (doesn't stay on campus ever). I will be calling her though cuz even my Allergist said that bucket of water thing was nasty even without allergies. Oh, they also have the kids bring cups and set them by the water bottle (big water bottle filled from the tap) so kids can drink water in class. The cups aren't washed all week, blech! I had my son bring little disp. cups!!
I did feel as though they're putting all of this on me though. Yesterday (before today's meeting) the school admin. wanted me to write the letter to the parents and she also wanted me to get her all the info I could on nut allergies. I gave her website after website and my allergists' phone number. (The allergist called me after speaking with the school admin and told me what they discussed)
Ok, I'm going to research more and ask more questions I'm sure so please be patient with me ((( HUGS )))

Posted on: Fri, 08/25/2006 - 9:45am
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Oh yeah, I did tell them lots of schools in the state of CA have nut free classrooms and asked how that could be if it's against the law. I don't believe I got an answer on that one.

Posted on: Fri, 08/25/2006 - 10:04am
Daisy's picture
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Joined: 01/16/2006 - 09:00

Quote:[b]I'm happy they're working with us in requesting that the parents don't send nuts and nut by-products and thus reducing the risk but by not "mandating" a nut free classroom we all have to be on our toes about handwashing and more. (The classroom has no sink so they use buckets of soapy water communal style. (I have told them I'd supply antibacterial wipes for the kids to use for their hands and for washing down the tables. [/b]
Ok, I know this is silly, but why can't they just go to the bathroom to wash their hands?
OMG...microbiology nightmare!...a communal soapy bucket for handwashing.
[i]E. coli[/i] 0157 is a known pathogen spread even after communal handwashing at petting farms (can't find the CDC citation right now).
And this would only *increase* the chances of your son getting a contact reaction to peanut if other kids had this on their hands from breakfast/lunch.
I see that you are in California; a state known for regulating almost everything! I know they have a school-handwashing-facility reg. somewhere. Know anybody in construction (contractor/commercial builder)?
FYI: Even small businesses with no running water are required to have adequate handwashing facilities. It usually consists of a big carboy jug with a spigot(faucet) filled with water under which a catch-basin(bucket) is placed. But you *always* wash with [b]running water[/b].
>>Sorry for the rant...I just see visions of flu season/giardia/crypto outbreaks in the headlines coming from your school.<<<
Daisy

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