After being unsucessful at controlling my daughters exposure to peanuts in her classroom and at her lunch table at school I filed a complaint with OCR (The Office For Civil Rights). I am very happy to say that after a few phone calls from OCR to the school board and a 504 meeting with a few members of the school board we now have an acceptable plan for my daughter that I'm comfortable with. 1. Her entire class is peanut free. A letter was sent out to the entire class stating that no peanuts or peanut containging products are allowed at all for the entire year. The few "resistant" parents were given a phone call from one of the school board members telling them that the must stop bringing peanut products in immedietly. 2. She no longer has to sit "segregated" (OCR used this term) at a peanut free table from the other children in order to eat her lunch and can now be like the other children and socialize with who she wants at lunch time. 3. She is allowed to carry an emergency bag with her epipen from class to class and even outside to recess and lunch. OCR has been very helpful and I know I couldn't have done this with their help as the school was VERY resistant to doing anything on their own. The only way things will change is for people to start filing complaints with OCR. The laws have already been passed. A peanut allergy is a "hidden disability" protected under the 504 Act and our children have a right to go to school without being exposed to peanuts. Any public school especially will be likely to rethink being resistant once OCR tells them the can get their federal funding taken away for not complying with the law. I hope this helps anyone who is having a struggle with their schools. On the down side people will be angry at you for doing this and think it's extreme but most parents of PA children will agree that it's necessary to protect our children however necessary because no one else will... and if people don't like me for it then too bad.
On Mar 7, 2008
I applaud you, especially for getting your daughter away from segregation in the school. This is something as a child that I had to deal with it's not very good, socially for a child.
Glad to see that a parent is following through on the 504 and calling the schools on it. I don't think we have anything like that in Canada; we should push for it.
On Mar 11, 2008
How are you? I just found this post. I normally read and post on the school section. You are so brave for what you did! I wanted to know how it is going since you filed the complaint with the OCR. I am just about to do the same thing. I wanted to know if they treated your child any different. Did it really help? It seems the more that I try to get them to do the right thing or do what it takes to make my son safe, they call me "nit picky." I am not out to be their friend. I do not care what they think of me. I like the last thing you wrote about if we do not protect our children, no one else will. YOU ARE EXACTLY RIGHT! I believe that 100%. BUT, on the other hand, I do not want them treating my child bad because they are mad at me. BUT, I also think that I am going to have to go the same route you did in order to get anything accomplished. Would you mind posting back about how things are going. If you want, you can email me directly. You rock!
On Apr 21, 2008
Thank You.. It was well worth it and everything worked out well for my daughter. Apparently there was a Bill that was passed a few years ago in Canada protecting children with food allergies. Here's a link to an article I found. Good luck!
On Apr 21, 2008
Hi Mom of L&C! I'm doing great! This year went really well for my daughter since we got a real plan going for her. The school treats her very well and there has been no retaliation at all from anyone. The school now knows what they have to do and what her rights are and they are very very careful to make sure things are followed as planned. I'm sure they still think I'm a pain in the butt but I don't care. They thought that even before i filed a complaint with the OCR...lol! I feel so much better knowing that she has her Epi pen on hand at all times and no one in her class is eating peanut butter. My mission now is to let other parents in the school with children with PA that there IS something that can be done to keep their kids safe. Maybe we can eventually get the school to go peanut free if everyone speaks out..that would be great! How did things go for you with your child's school?
On May 10, 2008
I am glad you got back with me. I am sorry I have not responded sooner. I have been busy and have not looked on here in the past couple of weeks. Well things could be better for my son. His principal told me that life would never be fair for my son and I should accept that. Anytime that I point out to them that they did something wrong or about too, they act very mad. His room is supposed to be peanut free, but the teacher will not enforce it. She told me just yesterday, that she was not willing to single out a child because he was eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and send that child somewhere else just because of it. So we were the only class to eat in the lunchroom because of that so my son could sit at his round pf table away from that boy while he sat with the rest of the class. They think it is fine to single my son out, but stand up for everyone else. He gets left out at birthday parties in the room and class projects. They just do not get it. I am to the point of pulling my hair out. I have talked to the ocr and they said I have a complaint, but the school would not like me much after I filed it. I have posted about it some on here, and I have gotten some good advice. I have tried to list out my complaints and ask what they were going to do about it, and the 504 cooridinator just seems to stick by the school. I have contacted a local advocacy group to see if I could get someone to go with me to the next 504 meeting, but now school is almost over. Like I said before, anytime that I say anything they think I am being nit picky. It is almost like it is going to take a reaction to get them to understand. I feel like I am alone and fighting by myself. My huband stands by me, but even my friends think I should be happy they are "trying" to keep him safe. IF you call leaving his epi-pen on the bus and him being without it for 25 minutes, or allowing peanut products into his classroom when it is supposed to be peanut free classroom "trying" to keep him safe, then they are idiots! I applaud your bravery. I am just not sure what the right route is for us. I am trying to work it out amicably with the school, but it does not seem to be working. Because the principal does not want to enforce, the teacher takes the lead from her.
On May 10, 2008
If it were me in your situation mom of L&C, I'd file that complaint, pronto. I should recall, but I don't, you [i]do[/i] have a 504, correct?
There is a name for schools and teachers who 'think' they know the law yet still single out a child and [i]willingly choose [/i]to sweep his needs to the garbage day in and day out. There is a name for schools and teachers who [i]willingly choose[/i] to single a child out because of a food allergy, and do it in the name of 'he's different'.
On May 10, 2008
In dealing with a school like this, don't bother playing nice and worrying about what they think of you. For gosh sakes, they don't care one iota about your child, not one iota. Really. Not one, or they'd behave differently.
Advocate for your son only. He's the only one that matters.
On May 10, 2008
Please please understand that the law is on [u]your[/u] side. Believe it.
On May 11, 2008
This sounds like the very fight I have fought for DD. I hope I understand wrong that the ORC did not discourage you in filing a complaint. The bottom line is your childs safty and the school receives money to do that from our tax dollars, be it FEderal or State. The ORC's only concern should be the rights of the child and nothing else. Should the school retailiate that is a whole new complaint you can file. I understand the school year is nearly over but you can have them ammend your 504 for next year. Infact as my DD had to change schools this year and again next year I have set up meetings each time prior to the end of school to be sure they are prepared to provide a safe environment for DD on the first day of school. In our case DD is the very worst 1% case. We have watch any form of contact. I have had teachers and adminstators tell me they won't do this or that but the bottom line is the LAW requires it and always put the responsibility on them. In 2nd grade I had to send the school teacher, principal, and the super intendent a letter letting them know that should DD have a reaction while in their care I would be sueing the school, the school dist and each of them personally. Suddenly they cared. I am not a mom of empty threats and frankly I could care less if they like me or not. I always use the example that they are playing Russian Roulet with her life. That allowing those products in her area is the same as waving a gun at her. There is no difference. Infact there is a boy in NC being charged with attemped murder for holding up a sandwhich to a girl on the school bus to try to have her react. That school gets it. I will find it and post the article. Good luck and know YOU have the power and law on your side.