daughter\'s right?

Posted on: Fri, 08/27/2004 - 9:21am
pamom's picture
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Joined: 02/20/2001 - 09:00

Hi everyone!

I could sure use your help. My daughter is in fifth grade this year. She is very responsible (as almost all pa kids are) with her severe peanut allergy. We just moved to a new school recently and pricipal has taken the kids (my son is allergic too and in third grade) allergy very seriously. We had a peanut free table last year and the kids had some social problems since they were new and no one wanted to sit with them at the peanut free table. This year my daughter decided that since she is going into middle school next year and she would like to make some friends and blend in, she would like not to eat at the peanut free table. My son still likes the table, says he is not ready yet.

The principal says,"no, I do not feel comfortable with this even if she is eating a peanut free hot lunch with all other hot lunch kids." QUESTION: Can she prohibit my daughter from eating anywhere in the cafeteria? Please give me feedback. I feel this is discrimination since no one else in the cafeteria has assigned seating.

Please help me. I know my daughter needs to do this developmentally and sat alone yesterday and cried when she saw me. I know that the principal and lunch people care and are trying to help, but I am her mother and I feel I have dealt with this long enough to know when to let her spread her wings. I know the principal is just thinking "liability wise".

Let me know your thoughts. I want to be prepared for a confrontation on Monday.

Thanks!

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Posted on: Fri, 08/27/2004 - 10:22am
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

I really think there is a point where you have to balance safety vs. social normalcy. As our kids get older, they may want to branch out and I think that is good. Blending in, so to speak, is just a normal part of their school-age identity.
I think the parent and child must decide how to proceed in this and take it to the principal. I definitely see both sides, but I think the lunch room aides/teachers with cafeteria duty are an integral part of this "blending in." I think a 5th grader should be able to assume more responsibility (re: a regular lunch table if that's what she wants) balanced with a VERY aware lunchroom staff. They have to know what's going on if changes are made so they can avert a crisis sitution in getting medical help should your daughter ever need it. And if your daughter ever feels she's becoming ill, she needs to know what procedures she is to take to get immediate medical help (for example, letting an aide/or teacher know immediately or perhaps another close friend who could tell a teacher). There is nothing more embarrassing for a child wanting to fit it socially than a medical emergency rendering them unconcious. I know this from experience when I was teaching and a 14-year old girl had an epileptic seizure in the middle of a quiet study hall. When she came to, she was crying so hard because she was so embarrassed. I felt so sorry for her. She was right in the middle of those years when a girl is trying so hard to fit in.

Posted on: Fri, 08/27/2004 - 10:25am
Chicago's picture
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Joined: 04/21/2001 - 09:00

I understand what you are going through. My dd no longer sits at the Peanut Free table and there are a variety of reasons, but you probably can guess them or search old board posts and find my and others stories.
I would recommend going to the FAAN website and to the school section. FAAN is very good at explaining the dangers of PA however, they do not push for an allergy free table. They also provide professional looking stuff that you can download and share with the school.
I am sorry I can't help you with the legal aspects - dd is at a small private school so things have been handled without having to get to that point.
Good luck.

Posted on: Sat, 08/28/2004 - 4:18am
pamom's picture
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Joined: 02/20/2001 - 09:00

Am bumping up!
Thanks!
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Posted on: Sun, 08/29/2004 - 6:30am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

To me, it does sound as though the principal is thinking "liability issues". If your daughter has the *right* to a "peanut free" table, does she also have the *right* not to sit at a "peanut free" table?
I hear what you're saying and I certainly can understand where you daughter is coming from.
Do you have a lawyer you can contact?
If it were me, the principal, thinking about liability issues, my question would be that if you allow your daughter to not sit at the "peanut free" table and she does have a reaction, what are the legal ramifications the school will be faced with, if any? And how does one guarantee that to the principal?
Or do you want to guarantee that to the principal? Would it involve signing a liability waiver? And certainly not a standard liability waiver, but something that addresses your particular situation, with your daughter only at this point.
Of course, probably made even more difficult by the fact that you have another PA child.
I would believe your daughter had the right to NOT eat at the peanut free table, but again, I do think the principal is thinking liability.
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Sun, 08/29/2004 - 6:32am
darthcleo's picture
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Joined: 11/08/2000 - 09:00

Could the school revert the peanut-free table to have a "peanuts" only table, making all tables peanut-free?
I don't know how well that would work, but it does sound like a much better idea than having one table that is peanut-free.

Posted on: Sun, 08/29/2004 - 11:53pm
pamom's picture
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Joined: 02/20/2001 - 09:00

Thanks for the great idea. I too think it makes more sense to have a peanut table. Unfortunately, the consensus is that parents would be up in arms if they thought their children were forced to sit somewhere because of their peanut butter sandwich.
I will keep trying and thanks again!
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Posted on: Mon, 08/30/2004 - 1:04am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

darthcleo, your idea sounded good to me (only because this morning I found out I'm dealing with a lunch room situation and am now scared). I do know that in a high school in Ontario (how every specific [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] ) what they did was have a "peanut zone" in a separate part of the building (I think it was actually the basement) where anyone who wanted to eat peanut products was *supposed* to go.
I think the whole thing with a "peanut" table is really you're getting closer to a peanut ban than perhaps some people would like. Personally, I'd love to walk in the door of a "peanut free" school. Hasn't happened to us yet. Wish it would.
I know my SIL has had issues when her children have been in a "peanut free" classroom and were asked to eat outside of the classroom when she sent in peanut products (please note - she purposely sent peanut products into a "peanut free" classroom). She was very upset that her children had to leave the classroom (again, a "peanut free" classroom) to eat peanut products that she knowingly had packed.
Jesse has always eaten in his classroom, thus the "peanut free" classroom. In Grade Two, which seemed to be a horror show, until we got to Grade Three, any children that brought products in that weren't okay for a "peanut free" classroom were asked to eat with the principal. Turns out there were more children breaking the "peanut free" classroom rule each day and eating together with the principal than there would have been had the PA child been sent there to eat.
Sorry, pamom, went off on some other tangent.
Trying to work things out in my head and not doing very well.
But darthcleo, yes, a great idea, but again, closer to a ban. I'd go for it, but I'm getting the feeling that a lot of people aren't of the same mind. I don't know.
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Tue, 08/31/2004 - 1:54am
pamom's picture
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Joined: 02/20/2001 - 09:00

Thanks so much for replying. It helps just to vent and know that everyone is in the same boat at one time or another. I talked to the principal yesterday, ready with all of my logic.
I told her my daughter is in fifth grade and feeling socially isolated. She is developmentally ready to take more responsibility with her allergy. I would like her to sit with the other hot lunches since next year she will not have a peanut free table. I thought it was a good idea to do it this year under a little more controlled environment. I told her I know she is thinking liability, but sometimes she needs to put the student and their developmental skills first.
Guess what, she was quiet for awhile, she agreed with me! Can you guys believe it? She still wants her to eat cold lunch surrounded by kids without peanuts, but when she eats hot lunch on a tray she can sit with other friends. Okay, I know this is not a big deal, but it is a first step.
Thanks again all of you for your help!
I can breathe again!
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Posted on: Tue, 08/31/2004 - 5:40am
California Mom's picture
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Joined: 07/14/2000 - 09:00

I'm so glad you were able to reason with your principal and get her to see the light. I am confused though: is she still required to sit at a PF table if she is eating a cold lunch? If so, what is the raionale for that?
[img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] Miriam

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