Chinese New Year Celebration

Posted on: Fri, 01/19/2001 - 9:17am
California Mom's picture
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pI have had a horrible situation occur today, which I had never expected. I knew that my daughter/p

Posted on: Fri, 01/19/2001 - 12:36pm
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What a story. I can't believe the attitude and lack of support your daughter's teacher had. It must have been horrible seeing your daughter sitting in the office with her backpack. I am sorry you had such a rotten day. Is your daughter the first child in this school to have a peanut allergy? It sounds like the teachers (and parents) need to be better educated on the severity of her allergy. Perhaps you should give them copies of the recent articles that have been posted here. Also, once you've had a chance to collect your thoughts, you should definitely revisit this event with the school. Good luck.

Posted on: Sat, 01/20/2001 - 12:08am
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AmyR, thank you so much for your kind and empathetic response. It means so much to me to know that another mom understands what I'm going through.
I think that Leah is the first PA child the school has dealt with. I had originally planned on giving them articles, etc. But then the nurse stepped in (the first day of school) and insisted the classroom would be peanut free. I figured that that action along with always having the epi-pen would keep Leah safe, so I didn't go further with education about the allergy.
Ironically, my daughter's teacher actually sent home a copy of the People Magazine article about Vermont Nut Free for me to read. That article was educational, so she must get it somewhat. In fact, I think she does get it, because she didn't think Leah was safe in the environment. I think what she doesn't "get" is that this should never have happened and that it is totally unfair to Leah. I am definitely not letting this incident just disappear without some action. Thanks again, AmyR. Miriam

Posted on: Sat, 01/20/2001 - 3:32am
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Miriam,
I am so sorry about what happened and ANGRY! Since when does egg rolls and salad have to be a part of an educational experience. My daughters class also did a section on multi cultural events and each event included food. All food was cleared by me first.
Does your daughter have a 504 plan? If not get one immediately. This will help prevent things like this from happening (hopefully).If it doesn't prevent a situation it gives you an avenue of recourse.
The school broke the law by excluding your daughter. They can not remove a child from an educational opportunity due to a medical problem. It is called discrimination. Supposedly I would imagine they considered the egg rolls and salad a learning, educational experience. Well by removing your daughter they deprived her of her right to a free and accessible education. They can not do this.
I would acknowledge the fact that they were trying to physically protect your daughter by removing her from an unsafe situation but the psychological harm which could have been caused can not be ignored. Why is the other children's education more important than your daughter's?
I would set up a meeting with the nurse, principal and teacher immediately! A situation in kindergarten dealt with quickly and correctly can set a precedent for the coming years. Let them now how unacceptable this situation is. Use catch phrases like, legally speaking... I have been advised..... the law states....a right to a free and accessible education.
I know how much we all hurt for our children. When you said you just cried at school I knew exactly how you felt, because I have done that too. Since a similar incident happened at my daughers school (kindrgarten also) things have changed quite a bit. It is not always easy but knowing i have the law on my side helps tremedously.
Take Care,
Linda

Posted on: Sat, 01/20/2001 - 4:34am
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California Mom - It sounds like your daughter's teacher does in fact understand the allergy at a certain level. However, I don't get the feeling she's being sensitive to your daughter's needs. She is clearly not looking at the emotional side of what your daughter may be going through. I would think she could come up with creative ways to ensure her safety as well as happiness. And I don't understand why she wouldn't place a call to you each time food is involved. I really don't understand why so much learning needs to be centered around food and if it must be, why people can't be more thoughtful in their preparations. I often wonder if I would be so careful and thoughtful if my son wasn't PA. I think my nature is to be caring and sensitive so I'm sure I would tailor things to the needs of others. However, I will tell you that I am much more aware now. Just last week before going into a Bat Mitzvah, I grabbed some peanut butter crackers to have in the car (my own little stash). As I put one in my mouth, I realized that I shouldn't eat anymore in case someone sitting near me in temple is allergic. Now I'm sure that thought wouldn't have occurred to me before my son was diagnosed. And I don't expect people to take it to that extreme (espcially if they don't know someone is allergic) but it would sure be nice if people would go a little out of their way to think about how the PA child and family feel when they are singled out or excluded. Your story and plenty others on this board are so sad and discouraging.

Posted on: Sat, 01/20/2001 - 9:32am
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Anonymous (not verified)

Miriam - this isn't even my child, and my blood is boiling. How could they not have consulted you? Even if the teacher doesn't completely "get it", she certainly seems aware enough to know that if a celebration which includes food is to take place, that you need to know.
Obviously, your decision to wait until Monday is a good one. Enlisting the school nurse is a good idea too. If you don't get satisfaction from your discussion with the teacher, I guess you will have to go to the principal (I hate having to do anything like that). We're all rooting for you.
Let us know what happens!
Amy

Posted on: Mon, 01/22/2001 - 4:14am
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Thank you so much, Linda, Amy R, and Amy Frankel, for your kind responses.
Linda, your ideas about getting things worked out now, as a precedent for the later grades makes a lot of sense. We do not have a 504 plan, and I had been hoping not to need to do that. I will have to see whether I have been too idealistic, however. It really helps that you pointed out that the school broke the law. I do not want anyone to think that they will get away with that again.
Amy R, I completely agree with everything you said. I agree that the teacher obviously does not "get it" to the degree that I would like her to. That is primarily what I am finding so upsetting.
Amy Frankel, thanks for your support, too! I am with you on not wanting to involve the principal unless I really need to, although I am considering contacting her (either via e-mail or in person) to give her a synopsis of what has happened thus far and to let her know what I am working on.
O.K., now for my update: I called the district nurse this morning and was able to get through to her right away, fortunately. She was extremely supportive, and agreed with everything I said. In fact, she said some of the things that I have been thinking before I even said them! This was comforting, to say the least.
She felt that the teacher should be informing me before there is any activity or celebration in the classroom which involves food. She also said that when parents are organizing something or providing a snack a note should go out with a written reminder that there are "children" (I guess she doesn't want to single Leah out) with peanut allergies in the class, and to please make sure that there are no peanut products sent in. Another thing she said was that the teacher could have called her to come and assess the situation, instead of calling me to come pick Leah up. Although I, of course, hope nothing like this event happens again, I was glad to hear that, as I would prefer to get a call saying that the nurse is coming to be with Leah, rather than a call saying I need to come get her. (I hope everyone understands that this is not because I don't want to get Leah, but because I don't think it is right for her to be sent home and miss the activity.)
The nurse offered to go over all of this with the teacher by herself. My feeling, though, was that although that would feel more comfortable for me because I wouldn't have to confront the teacher - it's really best for me to meet with them, too. I think it's important for me, as the parent, to make it clear that I am an important part of the situation. Does everyone else agree with that? My husband thought it would be better if I weren't there. (It's typical, however, for he and I to totally disagree about this type of thing, though, unfortunately.)
I am going to try really hard not to seem upset with the teacher during the meeting. I will try to act as though we just need to clear up a few things, and that this will be a good precedent for the future. I will try to act like it's no big deal, and I haven't been up in the middle of the night for three nights seething about this!!!
Once again, thanks for reading all this. I'm so glad to have so many "friends" dealing with all of this, too!
Miriam

Posted on: Mon, 01/22/2001 - 7:16am
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Anonymous (not verified)

California Mom, too [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/mad.gif[/img] to respond properly now. You know I'll just go into a rant. I'd like to settle myself down first. I am quite taken aback by the whole thing and quite angry.
For the 504 Plan, check out Rilira's thread under Schools entitled "School Meeting on Wednesday". She has the 26 points of her daughter's 504 Plan typed out there for all to see. It is absolutely fantastic. I'm not saying that there aren't others on the board that are too, but I only recently read Rilira's and thought it was wonderful. It is certainly a great starting point (and probably finishing too!).
I'll be back in later if I settle down. I just feel so badly for both of you. You made the best decision you could for Leah - let her stay but with the teacher and yet you still get a call to come and get her? There are so many things I could go into right now and I'm afraid I wouldn't do it clearly enough.
[img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/mad.gif[/img] [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/mad.gif[/img] [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/mad.gif[/img]
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
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Posted on: Mon, 01/22/2001 - 12:27pm
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Anonymous (not verified)

California Mom, okay, I've settled myself down long enough to post a response. As it turns out, it seems as though you have worked things out fairly well as far as having a meeting with the teacher and the school nurse. I, personally, think that YOU should be at the meeting with the teacher and the nurse. I know that the nurse could probably handle the situation effectively for you, but I also think it's very important for the teacher to see you and your concern (even if it is exactly the same as what the nurse says).
I think you will often find that our DH's disagree with this, and I'm not clear where that comes from except that they don't really deal with the school that much to begin with traditionally do they? They may attend parent's night or the meeting with the teacher but how many men, still to-day are extremely active in their children's day-to-day activities at school. Also, I don't know if it has something to do with men not wanting to make waves and whenever we want to meet with people at the school or wherever or confront a particular situation, it is seen as making waves and they are not comfortable with that. I know my DH would have said the same thing as yours did but they don't recognize the importance of someone being there to represent your daughter from her own family. Of course, you can tell DH politely that you appreciate his opinion, but you would still like to be there to ensure that what you want for Leah is implemented.
Now, aside from the fact that you did post a couple of times after your original thread starter, I still have some comments to make about what you originally posted. This is the first time I have ever done this, Miriam.
I actually sat down and wrote out all the points I wanted to make.
First of all, if your daughter is in a "peanut free" classroom, I feel that you should be made aware any time a food is involved in her classroom. Actually, even if your child wasn't PA, why are parents, in general, not informed when food is involved in their children's lives outside of the home? For example, maybe some parents don't want their children eating sugar. Maybe some parents are vegetarian and striving for their children to be. Why is food so prevalent in school nowadays and seemingly without a lot of parents knowing about it?
There has been much discussion on this board about why food has to be involved in almost every aspect of our lives. It's almost as if something is missing if a food item is not involved. Where does that come from?
Then, at dinner tonight, I asked my DH if he could remember there being a lot of things involving food when he went to school. We're both 41. He couldn't remember anything to do with food. Now, both of us searched our minds, and I will have to check with my Mother, but I can't remember my Mom having to bake something for Hallowe'en, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Year-End every year. I would have remembered carrying the containers in as we lived two doors from the school. Is it just that we can't remember or has food, for some reason become more prevalent at school? We did have a cafeteria that sold food in high school. Up until Grade 8 we brought our own food in, and, of course, there were no "peanut free" classrooms.
If the other Kindergarten classes at Leah's school are also supposed to be "peanut free" then you should also be made aware of any food product that is brought into those classrooms. Otherwise, they aren't really "peanut free".
When the teacher commented that parents had planned this event or the food part of it, how could parents "plan" something without other parents being involved or having knowledge of it? Is there a select group of parents in the class who would "plan" things such as this? I learned that most of the food products that are brought into my son's school are brought in by The School Council which is basically like the PTA. So, I learned this year, that I had to educate them. But I don't understand a select group of parents within a classroom planning something without other parents knowing.
Also, regardless if parents planned it, the teacher is still in charge of her classroom and is responsible for what food is allowed into her classroom, especially if the classroom is "peanut free". I had a discussion with Jesse's teacher when I learned that American Pillsbury products imported into Canada were "unsafe". I asked her if she thought we should allow the products in and simply not let Jesse have any. She adamantly said no, her classroom was "peanut free". If the parents planned the food, the teacher was responsible for disseminating some sort of information to inform them that the classroom was "peanut free" and that their food selections should be "safe" for all children to consume.
I find it offensive that the teacher took this opportunity to remind you that there had not been an incident in the classroom until to-day. You mentioned that you have thanked this woman repeatedly. Why, despite our overwhelming thanks do we have to be reminded when something does come up? We don't. It was obvious that the teacher had to be reminded and not by another thank-you from you. I feel that most PA parents go out of their way to thank the caregivers of their children who are actually legally required to take care of our children in a safe environment whether we thank them or not. I am not suggesting that we stop thanking them.
So, your daughter's "peanut free" classroom was suddenly made "unsafe" for her to-day and the first choice you were given was to take her home? Excuse me? Was the whole day going to be spent celebrating Chinese New Year or would your daughter actually have missed learning something (aside from what she would have learned about Chinese New Year). If your Kindergarten curriculum is anything like ours, my child does miss learning if he misses a day from school. He currently has a really bad cold and his asthma has flared up terribly. He may miss school tomorrow. If he does, I'll be asking that his teacher send his homework home for him to do.
I know that your daughter was just matched with a penpal. Perhaps she simply felt uncomfortable having one of her first communications, even though with another PA child, about something like this.
Your DH is also probably right about how we are perceived by other non-PA parents, school staff, etc. I'm sure many of "us" are seen as kooky, over-protective fanatics. Do we have to have all people actually witness a young child in anaphylactic shock for them to "get it" and for our concerns to be considered "normal"?
I don't think that you did anything wrong in your dealing with the school. You felt that the school nurse would handle it. Last year was Jesse's first year in school. I accepted a blanket school board policy that was in place, without question. This year, I learned that I had to provide educational materials to his principal and teacher and anyone else who was interested in looking at them. It is a learning process for us too, as our children enter the school system.
And finally, I would really go over what Rilira had to say to you. She also lives in California and that is why I suggest you read her words carefully. What happened to-day was discrimination and illegal. Your daughter does need a 504 plan. I, like Rilira, am also extremely concerned about the emotional effects removal from an "event" can have on our children, never mind the physical removal.
Please let us know how things work out. I was just SO angry when I read your original post I couldn't think clearly enough to respond. It's because I picture my son being removed from the class. But, I also recognize it's because I see Leah being removed from her class. And for what? Chinese food.
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
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Posted on: Tue, 01/23/2001 - 3:01pm
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Hi Cindy,
Thank you so much for caring so deeply, and for taking the time to write such a thorough message! I appreciate it so very much.
As of today, nothing has changed. The nurse has not gotten back to me yet. I went on a field trip with the class today, and everything went well. I had packed a "safe" snack for Leah, but it turned out that the class snack (provided by parents) was safe for Leah. The teacher told me she had checked and thought it was safe, but asked me to check. At least I know she is checking!
Any way, I'll try to respond to the issues you raised: I'm glad you so strongly agree that I should be at the meeting. I agree with what you said about husbands. Some of them seem pretty wonderful about communication, etc.; but mine is not. He doesn't want to make waves, and he is always concerned that I am going to make waves. He also (as you said) isn't involved in the school on a day to day basis, and I think his mind set is more that we sit back and let the teachers do their job without interfering. Anyway, I don't want to be too hard on the guy (this time) because he is accepting that I can handle it the way I choose.
I realize that maybe I am wrong to call Leah's classroom "peanut free". (Obviously so, after Friday!) A letter went home to all the parents (the second day of school) explaining that there is a child with pa in the class, and that they shouldn't send anything with peanuts. The letter (written by the nurse) described in detail the importance of reading every label and how things one might never expect (with good examples) may contain peanuts. Because of this, I have been considering the classroom "peanut free". In actuality, I guess that isn't really accurate. Just thought I should clear that up.
I certainly agree that this prevalence of food all the time is totally inappropriate. With different people, as you said, having dietary restrictions for various reasons - it could be a problem on many levels. I seem to remember having cup cakes or little ice cream cups for parties at school, but that was it.
It seems that the parents who were involved in planning this event were only the parents of Asian kids. I know this sounds odd, but seems to be true. One of my (Caucasian) friends has adopted kids from China; she was called and asked to bring food for this event. I didn't find this out until later, by the way. I feel quite stongly that the teacher must be ultimately responsible for what is happening in the classroom, and the nurse certainly agreed. The teacher needs to become aware that when she has a pa child in her class she cannot simply allow the parents to plan something without herself being involved.
Thank you for your point about how we always say "thank you" to the teacher and we shouldn't even have to!!! I have thought I was being so nice to keep thanking her. I even bought her a box of truffles from Vermont Nut Free for Christmas. I thought this would be a nice way to thank her, and sort of a reminder of Leah's allergies; also a good opportunity to support Vermont Nut Free. Anyway, you are right: it is her duty to protect Leah; I shouldn't have to keep thanking her!
I agree that Leah missed a lot by being sent home from school. They do have a very short day, anyhow, so she only missed about 1 1/2 hours of school. Still, she was well aware that the other children were dancing under the dragon, and she didn't get to participate. Also, she said they were given little envelopes with money (probably a penny, I would guess) and she didn't get one. I just don't like the fact that she was left out in any way. It just sends the most terrible message to her! It's bad enough that she gets left out by not getting to eat what the other kids eat; she shouldn't get left out of activities, too.
Leah is really soured on the penpal idea, now. I think it is because I brought it up on that day. She says that she wants the other girl to write first. I should write to the other mother and let her know what's going on, maybe she can encourage her daughter to write first. (Thank you again, Cindy, for setting this up!)
It is very sad that we may seem kooky and over-protective. I imagine that this is where education has to come in. I have printed up 3 articles that I think are very good. Of course I got them all from this site! I plan to give the nurse and the teacher each copies of these. I hope the teacher will read them!
Thank you for your advice about Rilira and the 504 plan. I promise I will look into it. This may truly be what I need so that everyone at the school begins to take this more seriously. It is hard for me to "make waves", even though my dh thinks this is my specialty. I do have a lot of righteous anger, however, and I will do whatever I have to do to protect my child.
Thank you again, Cindy. I hope when you go to bed tonight you will know that you have made a HUGE difference in at least one mommy and daughter's lives!
Take care, Miriam

Posted on: Tue, 01/23/2001 - 3:38pm
California Mom's picture
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Rilira (Linda), I looked at your 504 plan thread, as Cindy advised. Thank you so much; I got a lot of good information. I don't feel quite as strong as you seem to be, but you are an inspiration none the less. I realize that it is not good that I have been allowing myself to be so meek in this situation. I was so relieved when the nurse seemed on top of things at the beginning of the year that I didn't go further with bringing in articles, etc.
The whole situation of a public elementary school just seemed so daunting at first, after my cozy parent co-op preschool experience. Now that I'm getting into the swing of things it seems less so, however. And, after what we experienced last Friday I am ready to stand up for Leah's rights and make sure she is never treated that way again.
Thanks again for your help; you did a real service to all of us by taking the time to post the points in your plan as well as all the links to the articles you found useful.

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