EpiPen forbidden at school

Posted on: Fri, 01/10/2003 - 5:58am
Sherrie's picture
Joined: 01/10/2003 - 09:00

I have a seven year old with a severe peanut allergy. Her doctor has advised that she must have an EpiPen with her at all times. My problem is that the school board rules require that all medications at school be in a locked cabinet in a locked room. Only a limited number of staff people have keys and only the nurse is allowed to dispense medications. The students are not allowed to carry any medications with them. Ever. Even the high schoolers cannot be in possession of an aspirin. The written policy states that failure to follow the policy could result in immediate expulsion.

The administration at my daughter's school have told me that EpiPens fall under this rule and that no school district student is allowed to carry an EpiPen with them. They won't even allow one to be kept in the classroom or the cafeteria. I've been told that if there is an accidental exposure that "somebody" will get the EpiPen but I have grave concerns.

I feel compelled to do something about this policy. So far I've just complained in person to the teachers and nurse at the school but all they have done is thrown up their hands and said that that is the way it is.

Any advice on my next steps?

Posted on: Fri, 01/10/2003 - 6:15am
Love my C's picture
Joined: 04/03/2002 - 09:00

Hi Sherrie, welcome to the boards!
My son isn't currently attending school yet, so no practical experience on my part although I'm sure those who have "been there" will give you great input.
However, some thoughts are yes, they do need to change their policy.
Can your doctor write a letter to the school as well as the district regarding the need for immediate access to the epinephrine? Maybe he or another allergist in the area would be willing to come and speak to the school. I've seen others post that their doctors have done that.
Also, show them the story recently posted on the media board of the 31 yr. old man who died just this month because he did not get his epi in time. It was in his car.
There is a great link to peanut allergy statistics on the Links board that somewhere states the importance of getting the epinephrine early. I will raise it for you today.
I hope other moms can help you out here.
Take care!

Posted on: Fri, 01/10/2003 - 7:12am
Going Nuts's picture
Joined: 10/04/2001 - 09:00

Our school district had the same policy before my son started there. It no longer does. Coincidence? I don't *think* so, LOL.
Seriously, a little more than a year before my son started school, another mom of a PA child and I got together and lobbied the district to change their policy. We were lucky enough to get a very prominent local MD on our side, and we prepared a whole presentation on food allergies, what happens during a reaction, how little exposure it can take, how fast, what % of reactions happen at school, etc. The end result was a change in the policy. We have an epipen in the nurses office, but Kevin's teacher also wears one and hands it off to whatever classroom he goes to (art, music, recess, etc.). Kevin also has one in his backpack.
I forgot to check your profile to see whether you are in the US or Canada. If you are in the US, you can get a 504 plan which really should exempt her from this policy. Even better though would be to get the policy changed. In our district, "self-administering" students can now carry their own inhalers too.
Good luck. Please let us know how you make out, and if there's anything we can help you with please don't hesitate to ask.
[This message has been edited by Going Nuts (edited January 10, 2003).]

Posted on: Fri, 01/10/2003 - 8:02am
KarenT's picture
Joined: 10/30/1999 - 09:00

A copy of the letter under Media:
Death - 31 yr old attorney Jan 8, 2003
might be of help. This man could not get to his car fast enough to safe his life.
Have you spoken to a lawyer? Are there other school boards in your area?
It is the Health Unit that inforced the rule about not locking up epi-pens in my area. This happened in the early 1990's.
Good luck.

Posted on: Fri, 01/10/2003 - 8:21am
California Mom's picture
Joined: 07/14/2000 - 09:00

I think you've gotten really good advice so far. I would just add that you can call FAAN (Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network at (703) 691-3179) and get their advice. They have a lot of experience working with schools and other institutions. I would definitely try your doctor first, however.
This is a situation where I might even consider keeping my child home until they change their policy; I think they would do it very fast, especially in light of the articles cited above.
Good luck! Miriam

Posted on: Fri, 01/10/2003 - 9:28am
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Our school has the same policy. Zero tolerance, that is, for anyone carrying meds--even an aspirin. After doing a lot of prep for Ryan's entrance into school, a nurse at the pediatrician's office, who used to be a school nurse, said a doctor's note that meds must be carried on the body would overrule school board policy. However, she can only speak for Pennsylvania school policy.
Epipens seem to have fallen under the "special exception area" even though there isn't one in our district. I supplied a letter from the allergist stating that Ryan must have the epipen on his body or in the classroom. We don't broadcast the info that he's carrying an epipen and he wears big shirts to conceal it. Virtually no one knows he has one. A former principal a few years back assured me that this would not be a problem (with preparation and some rules) since this issue comes up every once in a while with epipens and severe food allergies. Oddly enough, parents who appear to be "lax" in food allergy management seem to hurt the efforts of more conservative parents. Our principal, teachers, etc. have been wonderful to work with, but I have been questioned about this, that, and the other along the way about "severity" and "Why does Ryan need this and others don't..." It REALLY helps to have a blood test in hand to back up your request (or rather demand).
Ditto on the 504 if you're in the US. Without one, personally I feel the point is moot. I can't imagine my son's education without one.
[This message has been edited by ryan's mom (edited January 10, 2003).]

Posted on: Sat, 01/11/2003 - 2:16pm
helenmc's picture
Joined: 05/01/2002 - 09:00

Maybe you could also point out that the FAA allow epi's onto flights - even though they they have a sharp and could be considered to be a 'weapon'.
What would they expect a teacher with PA to do? Leave their epi in the locked cupboard? I always have me epi on me at school (I'm a primary school teacher).
Best of luck changing the policy (or at least bending it a little).
Helen and Geoff

Posted on: Sat, 01/11/2003 - 9:14pm
MommaBear's picture
Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

Is it because the epi pen is medication, comes with a sharp needle, or both? To get rules changed you need to look at their rationale first. In my state, carrying Asthma inhalers is permissible with a Doctor's written permission to carry them on the student's body (The school had a special form for for it). I think, (just my opinion) in a few years (maybe sooner) we will see these types of rules changed (regarding "zero tolerance" ). Find literature from reliable sources to support your request. Enlist the help of your child's physician. If the physician is willing, request they put their recommendations in writing on their letterhead and request he/she mail it to the school personally. Call the school board. Call your state representative. Put your requests in writing. Mail them certified mail to the appropriate school official(s). Attend school board meetings. Personally? When my child's former school refused to at least install safe areas to keep life-saving medications in the areas he spent most of his time in (he was 7 at the time), or at least have the adults in charge of his care in those areas carry a fanny pack with the medication on them, I transferred him to another school. The school (not the one he currently attends) insisted on keeping the medication in the nurse's office on the opposite end of the building. The nurse's office was in the back of the main office. The nurse was not full time and only present a few days a week. Soon, I will be purchasing a holder that my son can wear on his person and begin instructing him on self-administration. He has the idea down pat now, (as to administration) but, readiness is probably best assessed by the parent and physician. My son had an unexpected reaction (I say "unexpected" since the item involved was lentil soup, and we had not had a problem with this item when he had eaten it once before. (He is allergic to peanuts/nuts, now lentils, and has environmental allergies) In that reaction (he was just shy of age 7, i believe), he went into full panic. A mouthfull of soup, then yelling and projectile vomiting. Readiness? Any opinions? He is now 7 1/2. He has matured alot in recent months, but, time will tell on this issue. If not now, we (his father and I-------and grandma, she lives with us) will be more than happy to shadow him and look out for his well being a while longer. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] Roowwwwwwwwwwwwwrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
[This message has been edited by MommaBear (edited January 12, 2003).]

Posted on: Sun, 01/12/2003 - 12:20am
synthia's picture
Joined: 10/05/2002 - 09:00

I agree
Don't let them stop you from keping him safe
Love this site

Posted on: Sun, 01/12/2003 - 1:59am
cynde's picture
Joined: 12/10/2002 - 09:00

Rules are made to be broken (changed). Do not take this lying down, gather as much info as you can, and let the media in on it, or let the administration know the media will be contacted. Time is precious when a child is gasping for air and not getting it. Keep us posted about how it is going.

Posted on: Mon, 01/13/2003 - 4:36pm
krasota's picture
Joined: 04/24/2000 - 09:00

When my brother was young, the school insisted that he could not carry his rescue inhalers (nasty case of asthma). Every year, his doctor and allergist had to call and write (yes, both) and insist that he be allowed to carry them on his person.
The school we attended was a county school with many outdoor activities. If he had an asthma attack in the outdoor lab (a swamp), he would be dead before someone got to the office and back. And even if that person could get to the office in time, the nurse (part-time) would have to be there to unlock her cabinet.
Despite his many medical waivers (year after year), the school would always try to say he couldn't have his meds. I know they just wanted to cover their own rears, but it was very annoying. And this was a *small* school system--50 kids to a grade.
Needless to say, my mother insisted that he carry his inhalers, despite what the school said. He had medical waivers galore. By the time he was in junior high, he had to have a *state* medical waiver to carry his meds while participating in sports (he wanted to run cross country... in Indiana). My brother was allergic to everything he could inhale, so outdoor activities weren't the best option, but he was determined.
I do know that it took lots of fighting *every* year, but my brother had his rescue inhalers on him all the time. Some things are worth breaking the rules for.
I'm glad I didn't have to deal with food allergies in school. In the real world, I never have a problem carrying my epi-pen. I've never had problems with it on airplanes, nor entering nightclubs with strict weapon/drug rules.
I do remember getting in trouble for carrying my own painkillers (probably just midol or tylenol, but possibly prescription) in junior high. I had debilitating menstrual cramps back then and just didn't think about it. Since I was a good kid and excellent student, I didn't get in deep trouble. My mom just rolled her eyes and called my doctor, who sent a note to the school requesting that I be allowed to keep my pain meds in the office and take them *as needed* (ie, my schedule, nobody else's). That was nice. They didn't bother locking them up, one of the secretaries kept 'em in her drawer and tossed me the bottle when I came in.



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