Indifferent School Principal. Any similiar experiences?

Posted on: Fri, 08/02/2002 - 2:21pm
TLSMOM's picture
Joined: 05/25/2001 - 09:00

pI replyed to Cindy's thread about my son starting kindergarten this fall./p
pWe are in the process of putting a 504 plan in place. I have been in contact with the school district, the Nursing supervisor, my son's kindergarten teacher , etc./p
pBUT I have not had good feelings after talking to the school Principal the last four times. /p
pI met with her today, after we had our conference with my son's teacher./p
pShe had not read any of the materials that I gave her pertaining to my son's allergy problems. I gave her these materials three months ago. She also seems to be under the impression that she ( I think hopefully ) will not have to deal with my son's allergy issues and will pass it off to the school district nurse and school health /
She also thinks that a peanut-free table is impossible! She seems to hope that I will have him eat at home instead at lunch or have him eat his lunch outside of the cafeteria ALONE!/p
pBecause my son was there today, I did'nt want to end up having a heated discussion about this./p
pIf she does'nt "get it" what can I do?br /
Do I really need her?/p
pMy son's teacher is a different story. She seems to be warm and wonderful. She also seems to be willing to do whatever it takes to help keep my son safe./p
pAny other thoughts or experiences would be appreciated./p
pSincerely,,,br /
p[This message has been edited by TLSMOM (edited August 03, 2002).]/p

Posted on: Fri, 08/02/2002 - 10:54pm
mamagaona's picture
Joined: 12/29/2000 - 09:00

A few things caught me here.
In my experience of having a 504 for the past 2 years it WAS the nurse and teacher who dealt with it almost exclusively. If you have them to work with I wouldn't really worry about the Principal.
I mean, it certainly helps to have administrative support, but many Principals do not deal with the day-to-day workings, they delegate those to others so they can do Administration. I say this as a teacher myself.
Regarding the peanut-free table, I can't understand this. All it requires is a label on the table and the cafeteria staff watching for the 1st few weeks of school. Why does he say they can't accomodate it?

Posted on: Fri, 08/02/2002 - 11:44pm
California Mom's picture
Joined: 07/14/2000 - 09:00

That is a shame that the principal is so unresponsive, and hasn't even read the materials you gave her. I don't know how large your school is, but for my daughter's kindergarten year the principal was very involved. She was at all our 504 meetings and was very on top of the situation. I ordered the "school food allergy program" from FAAN, and there is a section in it for each member of the school faculty. The first section is for the principal. I will copy the first page for you here: "The principal is the one who sets policy for the school staff, who parents go to when they have a problem, and who teachers call when there is a misunderstanding of responsibilities.
The principal is the person who sets the tone for the school and sets policy that affects students within the school and within the community. Most principals start out in the field as teachers. They chose this career because they love children and want to make a difference in their lives. This book was created to help principals serve the needs of the diverse group of people who look to them for guidance."
Our principal left after kindergarten. We ended up with a horrible interim principal for the first part of last year (first grade). It was very stressful and upsetting for me; he ignored the plans the principal and I had set up for lunch time - he was blatantly violating Leah's 504 plan. Just when I was on the verge of taking action (within the district hierarchy) some of the things sorted themselves out. Long story, but bottom line: the principal IS important. On the other hand: thank goodness you have a great teacher. We had LOTS of problems with our kindergarten teacher which was probably why it was so vital to have a great principal. First grade year we had a fabulous teacher, which made all the difference in the world. Only problem was that the teacher was very clear that she was not on duty during recess and lunch, which was when we especially needed to focus on Leah's safety because that is when the kids eat. This is when I was caught between a rock and a hard place when he had the horrible interim principal. By the time we got a much better interim principal I was so shell shocked by my interactions with the first one that I never even had a meeting with her. By then I had worked everything out with the yard supervisors, and felt (relatively) safe that Leah would be O.K.
I think your 504 plan is critical. Make sure the peanut free table is in there, if you feel your son needs it. The principal is violating your son's rights by wanting him to sit alone either inside or outside [img][/img] the cafeteria.
If the teacher is as great as you say, perhaps she will have some suggestions for dealing with the principal.
This year my daughter is starting at a new school, because we moved and are in a different district. I have spoken with the principal by phone, only, but she sounded really great. (I did have a lengthly meeting with the disctrict nurse. I didn't arrange a meeting with the principal because we didn't know for sure which school Leah would go to until school was out for summer.) Now that Leah has had two reaction free years at school I am a lot less worried than I was when she was starting kindergarten. We also have the 504 plan which gives me peace of mind that Leah won't be discriminated against, which happened a lot in kindergarten. We have also found that Leah has been fine sitting with kids who are eating peanut butter, although we had a peanut free class in kindergarten, and a peanut free table in first grade. I'm assuming that in second grade the kids eat much more neatly than in the younger years, so we are trying a regular table this year. (We had some concerns about Leah socially last year, and the peanut free table seemed to increase the problems.)
I wish you all the best. Be grateful for the teacher - she will be your son's most important piece of the puzzle. Still, in my opinion that principal needs to come on board and realize that she is part of this, too. Good luck, Miriam

Posted on: Sat, 08/03/2002 - 9:59am
TLSMOM's picture
Joined: 05/25/2001 - 09:00

I wanted to give my heart-felt THANKS to all who responded. I REALLY appreciate your comments. It just reminds me,I DO have support. Thankfully by people who have been there before me . All your BRAVERY has been so valuable to newbies like me! Thanks again for letting all of us learn from your experience!!!!!
I wish I could meet you all and hug you or shake your hand in graditude!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Maybe some day this could be arranged.
Yesterday when I wrote my post, I was ticked off! I told my significant other that I don't think I will EVER get used to the way some people, JUST DON"T CARE! IT'S THEIR INCONVENIENCE VS. OUR CHILDREN'S LIVE'S!!
Like I said, will never get used to that!
Many of these people have children of their own, yet they can't seem to relate! Oh Well!
I guess your right about Ms. Principal. I don't necessarily need her to create our 504 plan, BUT what concerns me is that I found out that there is NO Health Custodian on duty at my son's school at this time. The previous one retired. When I inquired about this to same Principal she told me they were still interviewing people. This has me very concerned since she seems not to want to take any unnecesary responsibility.
After we left yesterday, my husband and I agreed that we need to send a certified letter to the Superintendant of our son's school district as well as the PRINCIPAL and school nurse requesting a 504 in writing, even tho we are working on one with the distrist nursing supervisor, just to cover our legal base's.
Get this,, this same school has a yearly, NUT MONTH!!!!
I'm not sure totally what this means yet. We just learned this from my son's teacher. But she insists it won't be happening this year because our son is in her class. The kindergarders also used plain and peanut M&M's for a yearly counting project!!
Peanut-Free table here we come!
Hugs and more hugs

Posted on: Sat, 08/03/2002 - 10:38am
ABreitner's picture
Joined: 07/02/2002 - 09:00

I have two children, they are 10 years apart in age. My first child does not have food allergies so I was blissfully unaware of this issue for a very long time. I am horrified by what I am going to confess here. When my daughter was 7 or 8 I remember getting a letter from school saying someone in her class had an allergy to nuts and that anything brought in should be carefully checked. Not being much of a planner at the time, when it was my turn to bring in snacks I remember thinking "now what was it I was supposed to be looking for on the ingredient list? Oh well, I'm sure if it is that important someone will double check". It wasn't my child, it wasn't my problem. Now that my second child is allergic to peanuts and many other foods I think of that and am just sick about it. But I do think it will help be keep my child safe, I remember what it was like to have no idea what the word anaphalatic meant, to think allergy meant a runny nose or maybe an upset stomach, to feel safe.

Posted on: Sat, 08/03/2002 - 10:48am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

TLSMom, I did reply to your quandry in the thread that you had replied to that I started, but I wanted to add to this thread.
I have to agree with California Mom that the
principal is, indeed, very important.
The first principal Jesse had (and he has only had two now) was extremely reluctant to deal with *it* and didn't acknowledge the materials I provided her with either. I banged my head against the wall for two years with this woman. I finally called her boss, the superintendent and it was then that things finally got straightened out to a point.
Although she finally did end up running a *reduce the risk* school in the end, when I had a speaker coming trained by Anaphylaxis Canada in to help people learn re PA, she didn't advertise it at all. It ended up on the school calendar alone and who showed up?
2 PA parents (myself and another woman) and the two teachers dealing with the two students. It was horribly embarrassing.
The second principal I dealt with this year was quite good and I had a few minor things that happened during the year that didn't adhere to Jesse's school plan. I dealt with them quickly via e-mail and she responded quickly in kind.
However, I know, first hand, from dealing with a reluctant principal that it is a terrible experience to go through - I banged my head against that brick wall and it is extremely stressful and frustrating.
I have commented in the other thread how upset I am about the no *peanut free* table [img][/img] and I believe, from what I read above, that you are able to have one implemented with a 504 plan. I would pull up other 504 plans that are posted on the board here, if you don't have one started already (rilira's is excellent, not to slight anyone else) and go through each point to see what it is you require to keep your child safe or feel that he is safe while he is at school.
It is definitely a bonus that the teacher and health care staff are working with you, but as far as I know, the principal does *run* the school and if you have a reluctant principal you may have a very very big problem (then again, as pointed out above by someone else, you may not).
We're here for you. It will be okay. Just let anyone know what it is you feel you need to get started, to add, whatever. We always pool our resources. [img][/img]
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Sat, 08/03/2002 - 1:48pm
TLSMOM's picture
Joined: 05/25/2001 - 09:00

I guess my wish is to be able not to have to work with somebody in authority that does'nt want to be bothered. But what my husband and I have already been discussing is that she is going to be forced to make resonable accomadations for our son to recieve equal opportunity for his education. By law. Whether she likes it or not. Obviously she does'nt realize this YET! But she soon will.
We as PA parents have to constantly make lemonade out of these lemons. It's so unfortunate that she isn't takeing this seriously yet, but she will soon be required to, or ultimately risk losing federal funds.
My husband and I will do the best we can to keep it from having to come to that, but just the same we have to prepare for the possibility of legal recourse. I certainly realize that we would'nt be the first to have to do so.
Words set on peices of paper is what she is going to have to pay attention to. Even as she tries to dodge her responsibilities as Principal.
Yes I am very concerned that this person will be "setting" the tone for my son's first experience with public school.
My husband laughs and says "she does'nt know it yet but our son WILL have a peanut-free table, amongst other precautions.
I believe we have the law on our side, and I'm the squeaky wheel that will get the grease! Whatever it takes we will get our "reasonable accomadations"!
Everyones idea's have meant so much to me.
Sorry, I know my spelling's not the best.
[This message has been edited by TLSMOM (edited August 03, 2002).]

Posted on: Mon, 08/05/2002 - 2:28am
triciaGA's picture
Joined: 05/12/2002 - 09:00

We had a hard time the first year of chool getting the principal to get it and left very frustrated however I used that frustration to start a local food allergy support group so that in the years to come I could say "Well they are doing it at such and such a school in the district now wy is itthat you canot do it here". Also by the time my twns went to 1st grade FAN had developed the School Binder - that seemed to make a huge diffeence. I gave the school 1 binder and kept 1 for home. I think if you phrase things with the school that you are just trying to minimize everyone's risk should an alergic reaction occur. We also requested peanut free tables in the lunchroom and peanut free classroom at snack and birthdays. By that I mean obvious peanut products not allowed - ie peanut butter crackers, cookies etc. but if someoe sent plain m and m's I didn't worry about it - I wasn't worried about my kids eatng other kids foods - I was worried about peanut butter residue etc being left on tables, books, etc and causing a hazard. You have to pick your battles. I also didn't let my kids have the birthday treats sent in - at the beginningof each year I would send in a bag of special treats for my kids for birthday events - things like nerds rope, gushers, etc because they will be upset if everyone else has cupcakes ad they have to eat goldfish. Parties I made sure I found out the food being sent in and made individual decisions. For lunch, make sure they use separate cleaning supplies for your peanut free table and also send waxed paper in your childs lunch for him to eat off as an extra precaution. Good Luck.

Posted on: Mon, 08/05/2002 - 11:00am
TLSMOM's picture
Joined: 05/25/2001 - 09:00

triciaGA thanks for your support and sharing your experiences!
Had to go out of town the last two days. My husband got a call from the school district Nursing Supervisor this morning assuring us that we definately WILL be getting our son a 504 plan in place by the time he starts school.
Also she wanted to know when would be the best time next week for her to arrange our team meeting, with us, herself, the teacher, PRINCIPAL and all concerned.
I wish I could be a fly on the wall to see the reaction of the Principal to this news,,,,,,,
My husband and I feel gratified and hopeful about finally getting somewhere.
Will keep you'all posted.

Posted on: Tue, 08/06/2002 - 6:38am
California Mom's picture
Joined: 07/14/2000 - 09:00

TLSMOM, I am really glad to hear your good news! Yes, I think the principal will be very surprised to find out that she does indeed need to be a big part of keeping your son safe. I also think it's so great that you and your husband are totally on the same page with this. Not everyone is so lucky. I'm so glad you've found helpful suggestions here. I totally agree with you that this is the place to come whenever we have a PA problem. We know that others will be able to understand, and in many cases even help us out. Take good care, and good luck at your meeting. [img][/img] Miriam

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