Issue with Signing Up for New Preschool

Posted on: Wed, 06/20/2007 - 4:17am
BBCBMom's picture
Joined: 01/16/2007 - 09:00

My PA sons (4) and (2) have just been accepted into a preschool that is 10 minutes from a house vs. their current school that is 30-45, 60 - 90 min roundtrip depending on traffic.

The new school is Montessori and is suppose to be P/TN Fee. Both of my sons have been in day care/school since they were 3 months old. I am not completely familiar with Montessori . . . however I have read a few things but not in-depth.

So yesterday (Tuesday 6/19) I met with the director to go over a list of questions I had since I wasn't completely sure of their policies regarding allergies. (The list was long but it was mostly reference for me since I can get nervous and at times and don't ask the questions I want to since I just want it to be over). I had the normal subject categories that anyone would have . . .
1) FA Education, Awareness & Reaction Prevention
2) Procedure for Administering Medication
3) Contents and location of Medicine Kit
4) Classroom Management Communication to Other parents, etc,
5) Teacher Lesson Plans
6) Hand Washing
7) Food & Beverage Consumption in Classroom
8) Cleaning up after meals
9) Birthday Celebrations
10) Holiday Parties
11) Animals
12) Cleaning of Classroom by Custodial Staff
13) Fire Drill, Earthquake Drill, Allergy Drill
14) Field Trips
15) Lotions/Sunscreen
16) Water fountains
17) Back to School Night (Parents)
18) Disaster Plan & 3 day supply kid

I thought the meeting went okay and set up a meeting to talk with the teachers on Friday to see how things work in the classroom.

I got a call this morning from the director saying that she talked with the other staff and they felt that they could not accommodate our needs? I was a bit puzzled . . . accommodate what needs I said? They have around 9 kids with epi pens at this school of 70 kids.

See said . . .having me check off the ingredients they use for their cooking projects, asking for a list of the birthday of the children, and asking to go on the field trips (they told me they did not have room for my DS to attend since they did not have space in their van but if I drove him he could attend), they felt I was trying to micromanage them and trying to change policies. . .

I explained in my meeting yesterday I was only trying to get a feel on how things are run at the center since I did not receive a handbook prior to meeting with them. And also wanted to see how they run things so I can work with them? Yes I gave examples of how I had worked things out with my son's prior preschool (Asking to be notified 72 hours in advance of a cooking project so I could check the ingredients, to know in advance about bday parties, for a reminder letter to be sent out to parents more then once a year to remind parents of the schools P/TN free policy).

I also provided them with an updated P/TN list that I just received that I thought they might not have, gave them information about the PALs program and a great lesson plan from safe4kids [url=""][/url] I was just sharing resources and when I asked specifically if this was a problem this morning the director said no in fact the teachers said that they do something similar to PALs.

Another stickler to this situation is I gave notice to my 4 year old son's school yesterday and my son is really looking forward to going to this new school. Especially since he can go there all the way through Kindergarten . . . he was kind of scared to go to Kindergarten.

I am meeting with everyone on Friday at 1:00PM to see what we can work out. I am a bit puzzled by the directors quick response and not willing to work together to find a happy compromise . . . guess they have enough kids on the wait list that they would rather not deal with a parent that is well informed and wants to understand what procedures they have in place to keep her kids safe. I explained to the director again this morning that I need to understand the procedures my self so I can explain to my 4 year old what he is allowed to do regarding food and how things will work. My son will not accept food from anyone, only eats food from his lunch box, will stand back and not participate in a cooking project if I have not told him he can participate or not. I have to train my son for when he is not in a P/TN free environment and not

Posted on: Wed, 06/20/2007 - 4:31am
BBCBMom's picture
Joined: 01/16/2007 - 09:00

Below is the list of questions I brought in. Thought someone else my want to use/modify for when they talk with a preschool/school regarding their proceedures.

Posted on: Wed, 06/20/2007 - 4:54am
Greenlady's picture
Joined: 06/30/2004 - 09:00

You didn't seem unreasonable to me at all. I suspect their reaction was either because liability concerns or just a personality issue.
I know that the director of my (non-PA) daughter's preschool gets very prickly when she thinks anyone is trying to dictate policy. A number of families have left the center because of clashes with her, but I'm okay with her because she hires and maintains great teachers, runs a great program, and every interaction she's had with kids I've seen has been great, even when she's disciplining them. It's the parents she doesn't have much patience with, and I can live with that.
So if that's the case for you, I think that your current tactic of taking a step back and explaining that you just want to hear from them should work.
However, if it's liability that concerns them, it may be harder. At that point, you'll have to decide if it's worth raising the issue of discrimination based on a disability, etc.
Hope this helps!

Posted on: Wed, 06/20/2007 - 5:51am
Corvallis Mom's picture
Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

I agree that this all seems quite reasonable. But I have been where you're at. (We were 'accepted' by several preschools and then yanked around until we went away.)
There [i]does[/i] come a point at which you just have to accept that you aren't welcome and neither is your child. I'd rather just go away at that point. Because I can't make anyone care, and neither can DD.
But it sounds as though they may just feel overwhelmed. Play the sympathy card-- your boys are very excited, Montessori method seems [i]soooooo[/i] right to your family, etc. See where that takes you. If its nowhere, then it is clearly a liability/CYA issue. You can scare the pants off them by quoting ADA (since such discriminatory practices are [i]clearly[/i] illegal) but either way, I'd avoid them if they are taking the attitude of 'there's only so much we can do, you know...' or 'Wow-- that's a lot of trouble.'

Posted on: Wed, 06/20/2007 - 5:59am
Christabelle's picture
Joined: 10/03/2004 - 09:00

I thought the ADA prohibited this sort of discrimination.
I am amazed (yet again) that in this day and age - any school feels any surprise at reasonable requests from a PA parent. Helloooooooo, McFly! PA has been more and more prevalent for years amongst this age group. Get over it! I can't believe NO other parent wanted such reasonable requests to be met before.

Posted on: Wed, 06/20/2007 - 6:20am
niche's picture
Joined: 02/05/2007 - 09:00

My son was in Montessori when he was diagonosed. I think it is great you are putting it all out there at once. We kind of picked at things as we learned. Maybe you could step back and have them explain how they do things first then see how to fit that into your plan. My sons class for instance posts snack days on a calendar (he does not eat anything I don't send) but they do note when it is a childs B-day for example - then I try to send something more exciting that day for him.
The montessori we go to has a low sugar rule which helps because they discourage cakes, cookies etc. The do allow muffins - which aren't quite as much of a bummer if he doesn't get one. They also do a monthly newsletter that tells of activities for the month. I scan that for any food related items then I go to the teacher to see exactly what she has in mind. We also keep a bag of safe snacks there for him.
When they do parties they always post a signup sheet so I am sure to check into and sign up for whenever possible so he can eat the thing I send.
I haven't ever done the letter to parents thing. I guess I have seen so many mistakes over the last 2 years I really doubt it would do much good. Our school is supposed to be peanut free. and do parents still send kids to school with pbj - yep. Our sons teach watches and sits him away from those children then asks there parents not to bring it in again.
Don't get me wrong you method is much more full proof if you can get them to agree to it - and if I were starting a new school I would shoot for that as well just ideas on how we have worked things out.
I am going to give a food allergy presentation to the entire staff before school starts this fall. I hope that raising the overall awareness of all the teachers will help.
hope that helps,
DD 1 ????

Posted on: Wed, 06/20/2007 - 6:53am
Sarahb's picture
Joined: 01/22/2007 - 09:00

BBCBMom - we've talked offline right?
I don't think you were being unreasonable at all. But your list of questions was probably overwhelming to them. They (in general) don't like to be dictated to and you may have come off that way inadvertently. I know when DH was calling around that there was a school in your area - Montessori I think that *sounded* very good in regards to PA.
In reading your post I don't like that the director said that she "talked to other staff and they felt" blah blah blah. If she's the director it's up to her and it is probably HER that feels that way. She should own up to it. I think you are right that they don't want to deal with YOU - BUT they may be perfectly capable of still handling your kids.
I would probably go in there as reconcillitory as possible and let them know that you already withdrew your son from his school...and do whatever you can to get your kids accepted there. And then work with them bit by bit to make it as good as it can be.
BUT this is only if it is the school that I am thinking about that did seem to know alot about being nutfree and checked labels for "may contains" etc.

Posted on: Wed, 06/20/2007 - 6:56am
Sarahb's picture
Joined: 01/22/2007 - 09:00

oh and THANK YOU for the check list! That is very well done and is now on my hard drive!

Posted on: Wed, 06/20/2007 - 7:25am
BBCBMom's picture
Joined: 01/16/2007 - 09:00

I called the director back an hour ago since I could not wait until Friday and there are too many things dependant on the kids going to this school. The director was very understanding when I spoke with her. She mentioned that they had never seen a parent come in with a list of questions in the past 4 years they had been operating at P/TN free. She said they were also worried about my questions being a legal document? She also said something that blew me away, "the child has to trust others besides his parents like is teachers and grandparents since they also care about their safely . . .

Posted on: Wed, 06/20/2007 - 7:33am
BBCBMom's picture
Joined: 01/16/2007 - 09:00

Sarah - you are right it is the same school. Because of the list your husband created I called them and put our name on the wait list after I talked with you. I didn't think we would be accepted but they called last week and had an opening for DS 4 to start in July and DS 2 in September (hopefully when he is potty trained). Fingers crossed.
I found it odd also that the director came back saying the staff . . . I will find out on Friday who the instigators of the push back were . . . I have an idea from a brief meeting of the staff.
Where did you end up sending your son?

Posted on: Wed, 06/20/2007 - 7:45am
Corvallis Mom's picture
Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

Do a search for "504" and "La Petite Academy."
This case refers [i]specifically[/i] to a private preschool. It refers specifically to PEANUT ALLERGY, and denial of admission on that basis.
The federal court system decided [i]against[/i] the school, saying that a hidden disability cannot be used as a barrier to admission. Section 504 applies to ALL schools, including preschools. (With a few-- ahem, [i]very[/i] few exceptions.)
Here are a couple of links:
A thread addressing this very issue:
And another that talks extensively about good legal references (official ones, not from a 'message board') and procedure.
Both are good reads if you have the time.
[This message has been edited by Corvallis Mom (edited June 20, 2007).]


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