How Does Your Private School Respond?

Posted on: Sat, 11/15/2003 - 12:36am
Kelseymom's picture
Joined: 11/20/2002 - 09:00

Sorry for the long post. There are some issues I've been mulling over since Sept.

My Kelsey just started Kindergarten at a Catholic school. This is a school with a waiting list and a great reputation - my husband commutes 1 hour each way so that we would have a better chance to get into this school. When I first talked to them about the peanut allergy they assured me that they had dealt with many peanut allergic children, that the teachers receive in service training on using the Epi and that they are very allergy aware.

I made the mistake of assuming that they had the knowledge and proceedures in place to protect Kelsey, and just filled out the forms they gave me and brought in my case with the Epis and Benadryl. I did talk with the teacher at the orientation meeting but did not ask for a separate meeting at that time. By the way - sometime in the summer, before the next school year starts, I'm going to put out a post that hopefully keeps some other Kindergarten parent from making this mistake!! I will always have a separate meeting with the teacher from now on. Anyway.....

Then the problems started. Kelsey brought home candy, when I had told the teacher that Kelsey would only get food that I sent in. I spoke with the teacher. Then they used pb for a food center/snack/craft for the class. I was a helper that day and was able to watch and keep Kelsey safe, but (unknown to me) there was another pb allergic child in the other morning Kindergarten class and he had a reaction. I called a meeting with the teachers, nurse, and VP and invited the mother of the other child as well.

On one level the meeting went well. They agreed that there was a problem and that the teachers would not bring pb into the classroom, and they said they would research food allergy policies at other schools and adopt a more comprehensive program.

However, when I later contacted them about potentially having some input into this process they were very closed. They said they had already chosen a policy, they didn't want to take the time to give me the details of it, and I could give input after it was made public. I realize that I should not be the one making school policy -I just would have liked to be able to give input and work with them. The impression I get is that they have a "We are a good school and everyone wants to get in and we will tell you how it will be" kind of attitude. But - maybe this is a common school response and maybe I'm being too emotional.

After the meeting there was another incident in which Kelsey brought home candy when a substitute teacher was there (they have a VIP Friday where all the kids get a turn to have their folks come in and share pictures, crafts, books, activites - and food). I sent an email asking that they consider asking people not to send in food for the VIP because it is a day not entirely under the teacher's control and mistakes can (and did) happen. On that day the parent's activity went long and the parent helped pack up the backpacks and Kelsey was even offered a cupcake, which she luckily didn't take, even though the substitute was aware of her allergy. I got no response to the email. However, when I had my academic parent/teacher conference the teacher mentioned as a sideline that they were going to ask people not to send in food. They didn't offer to let me see the letter - again the attitude was that I can read it with everyone else. So again - they aren't working with me, however they are modifying their proceedures in response to my complaint.

I guess what really worries me is that they never say sorry and I feel that they are not proactive -not looking for ways to keep Kelsey safe. I think about something that someone (MommaBear?) posted about how even though you might have a great plan in place to keep your child safe, if the teachers don't fully understand the problem and embrace and fully participate in the plan, is your child really safe? Thanks for listening - Kelseymom.

Posted on: Sat, 11/15/2003 - 8:54am
MommaBear's picture
Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by Kelseymom:
I guess what really worries me is that they never say sorry and I feel that they are not proactive -not looking for ways to keep Kelsey safe. I think about something that someone (MommaBear?) posted about how even though you might have a great plan in place to keep your child safe, if the teachers don't fully understand the problem and embrace and fully participate in the plan, is your child really safe? Thanks for listening - Kelseymom. [/b]
Hello. Quite possibly, I may be able locate and reraise my post regarding a public and private school my son briefly attended. The schools were very resistant to any form of input regarding [i]anything[/i]. PA aside. [img][/img]
Quite possibly you are recalling one of my multiple posts regarding the "lipservice" prevalent in many schools (probably equally among both private and public) regarding these issues. Quite possibly "lipservice" is prevalent because there may not exist a way to monitor nor enforce such "policies." Quite possibly this is so since many schools both private and public do not have on a regular and continued basis someone who is morally, ethically, and [i]legally[/i] bound to strive for such. Or appropriately trained. [img][/img] Yea....... [i]someone whose licensure depends on it[/i]. And by default someone whose conscience does as well. I have found the appropriate knowledge level influences conscience greatly. Yea, Greatly.
Quite possibly, I will also note, that being able to regurgitate something verbatim may not necessarily be the best indicator of a true understanding (knowledge). Hence so much "lipservice". I will also note, as long as I am noting........... quite possibly, true understanding is cultivated when someone has a genuine interest (vested?) in the situation, or has ascribed (compelled?) to a higher calling regarding concern for their fellow man. (Which, I may note......... can come in many forms, and is not always obvious. Diamonds in the rough?)
Welcome, Kelseymom. [img][/img] I, indeed, have been in your shoes and can only describe it as "a learning experience".
MommaBear [img][/img]

Posted on: Sat, 11/15/2003 - 10:53am
StaceyK's picture
Joined: 05/06/2003 - 09:00

The lack of saying sorry ~ if they said sorry, would that in some way make them legally being admitting to some fault? Maybe the overall policy is not to say sorry (in whatever form), and try to keep down liability. In any event, this school is in for a rude awakening. There seems to be more peanut allergic children every day, and they will simply HAVE to face it eventually. I believe this to be true even for private/Catholic schools. I am so sorry that they are learning on YOUR child, though. Obviously, they have not quite grasped the seriousness of this issue. I would be very upset and would probably be in for meetings on a very regular basis, were it me. Keep up the good fight!

Posted on: Sat, 11/15/2003 - 2:31pm
becca's picture
Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

I am just dealing with preschool, but sorry goes a long way with me. It is am expression of regret and conveys a desire, to me, to do better(depending on how it is delivered of course). I think it is human to have errors, and how the school/teacher/human being(friend) deals with it is more critical to me than that a mistake happens(provided my child was okay!).
The attitude and secrecy thing is waht would get to me. How can you have faith and trust in what you simply just do not know?? Sorry you are going through this. I am not sure what kind of action you can take with a private school either.
Our private preschool embraced being nut free, but has made mistakes. I generally hear about them(last year the director kept me more informed, even telling me how it was going, what happened when PB came in by mistake). Because of that, this year, I have backed way off, and feel so much more trust. I know what they do when mistakes happen. It always keeps my dd safe. The one time the teacher gave her something not okay(after checking a label carefully, so it would be okay for many folks, but not me), she was very apologetic in a professional way. Immediately stated it would not happen again, and immediately we addressed how to avoid a similar thing in the future. Boom, done, and everyone was happy and friendly, not resentful.
The secrecy thing breeds resentment and mistrust. Maybe say that to them. You need to be in the loop to feel comfortable, even if the kinks are getting ironed out to your satisfaction.
I do believe it is an ongoing process to have others understand the whole thing. But, others have to be willing to work on it with you. I hope you can find a person on the staff to advocate for this on your behalf and get you in the loop. becca

Posted on: Sun, 11/16/2003 - 9:57pm
StaceyK's picture
Joined: 05/06/2003 - 09:00

Where we send our daughter for preschool, come to think of it ~ the teacher is wonderful and personable, having been there 26 years and she loves the children. She accidentally sent out something to the parents saying the children could bring in gourds, pumpkins, nuts, etc for the cornucopia - then when she realized her mistake including nuts, she apologized to me and the other mother who has a PA child in the class. That apology went SO far in terms of letting me know that she had just made a mistake and regretted it. It was such a factor in keeping up good will, just that little apology. It let me know she cares. I have thought more than once that I deeply dread leaving that school which is nut-free and so open to the parents, etc.

Posted on: Tue, 11/18/2003 - 10:09am
Kelseymom's picture
Joined: 11/20/2002 - 09:00

I thought about the fact that the teachers may be told not to say sorry for legal reasons and was sort of resigned to that. But then the substitute teacher called and apologized profusely about sending candy home with Kelsey and the fact that she could have taken a cupcake. I was really dumbfounded by the fact that she said sorry. It helped me move to "I can see how it happened" and "What can we do so that it doesn't happen again." I'm still waiting for the school policy to come out.

Posted on: Tue, 11/18/2003 - 11:20am
darthcleo's picture
Joined: 11/08/2000 - 09:00

"We are a good school and everyone wants to get in and we will tell you how it will be"
That is *exactly* the attitude we encountered when we approached what is renowned as the "best" school in the whole province.
Well, "best" is up for debate, but the yearly school ranking places this particular school in top spot, either all alone, or with others. The school ranking is only for high school, but this particular school is from pre-K to 12.
Anyway... they have this attitude that they know best. And that they know the kids better than their parents.
So now we're homeschooling, thank you kindly.

Posted on: Wed, 11/19/2003 - 3:57am
arachide's picture
Joined: 08/16/2000 - 09:00

Kelseymom, does this private school have a parent committee you could join?

Posted on: Thu, 11/20/2003 - 6:31am
Kelseymom's picture
Joined: 11/20/2002 - 09:00

Arachide: They do have a parent teacher organization - but the main purpose of that seems to be for school fundraising and charitable projects. Funny you should ask - I attended the meeting this week thinking they would talk about the new and improved food allergy plan that they say will be coming into effect soon - but it wasn't mentioned. I have thought about homeschooling and have read some of the threads posted here on that topic. -Kelseymom

Posted on: Sun, 11/23/2003 - 5:01am
StaceyK's picture
Joined: 05/06/2003 - 09:00

Ugh, how frustrating. Do you think they'll say they are implementing a plan and then not go through with it?

Posted on: Sun, 11/23/2003 - 10:48am
Kelseymom's picture
Joined: 11/20/2002 - 09:00

I hope not!! They did say that the principal had to review it first, so maybe that is taking some time. The teacher did tell me that they weren't planning on asking the parents to avoid sending peanut snacks in for their children. I had just asked for a note to go out so people would know there was a peanut allergic child in the classroom and perhaps choose themselves to send in something other than peanuts.


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