Issue with Signing Up for New Preschool

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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="http://www.safe4kids.ca/content/schools/Lesson_Plan_K_Gr.pdf."]http://www.safe4kids.ca/content/schools/Lesson_Plan_K_Gr.pdf.[/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

On Jun 20, 2007

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.

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On Jun 20, 2007

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!

On Jun 20, 2007

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.'

On Jun 20, 2007

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.

On Jun 20, 2007

Hello,

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, Nichele

DS 5 PA TNA DD 1 ????

On Jun 20, 2007

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.

GOOD LUCK!

On Jun 20, 2007

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

On Jun 20, 2007

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 . . .

On Jun 20, 2007

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?

On Jun 20, 2007

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:

[url="http://www.ada.gov/childq%26a.htm"]http://www.ada.gov/childq%26a.htm[/url]

A thread addressing this very issue: [url="http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum7/HTML/000138.html"]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum7/HTML/000138.html[/url]

And another that talks extensively about good legal references (official ones, not from a 'message board') and procedure. [url="http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum7/HTML/002471.html"]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum7/HTML/002471.html[/url]

Both are good reads if you have the time.

[This message has been edited by Corvallis Mom (edited June 20, 2007).]

On Jun 20, 2007

"Nichele

On Jun 20, 2007

My son was in a Montessori when he was diagnosed - we pulled him for a week to get our bearings straight but ended up bringing him back to his school. It is America's Child in Bellevue. While we were presenting our case to them to go nut free another little pa girl had a bad reaction during school. After that happened they said - no problem! But honestly we have done most of the work - printed and folded flyers to be sent home, wrote the letter to parents, purchased and put up signs, etc. I am not really super impressed with how they are enforcing this as a whole....but for now I am comfortable that he is safe. He only eats food that I send in. It seems though that every time I am there to help in the classroom or observe I see something that is WRONG! I think they are doing an good job but not great.

As for paries - food work in class - etc. I have found that I need to be very observent to know what is coming up and I have to be prepared. I have never been notified of anything...I am aware because I ask. His teachers did a popcorn art project and when they were bringing in the supplies I was there dropping him off. That's when it dawned on them to check the ingrediants. It really is a learning process for everyone. At our school - which I *think* is more lax than yours parents bring in bday treats with no warning all the time. I just have a treat bag that ds can get a treat from when that happens. I also think that they have simply limited the amount of treats/parties/food in the room this year. Last year we had an Easter egg hunt - none this year - last year we had a mother's day lunch - none this year. That makes me kind of sad....those things are fun things and can be made to be safe.

But anyway....it sounds like things are heading in the right direction for you with the school.

If it doesn't go well maybe we can get them all into [url="http://www.etonschool.com"]http://www.etonschool.com[/url]

very good nut free policy and goes up the 8th grade.

On Jun 20, 2007

We had a very bad experience with a Montesorri school regarding the allergies. At the time, dd was allergic to milk and egg, but not known to be pa. The school accepted her, but when I showed up with the enrollment papers, the met me at the door with a release for me to sign saying that the school would not be have to do anything other than call 911 if she had a reaction. Having read all about La Petite, I knew this was wrong. I reported it to the Justice Department, they contacted the school and set them straight. Then the director and I had a zillion letters back and forth with her telling me why I would not want to send dd there (since she could not refuse to take dd). This dragged on and on, and actually by the time the Justice Dept. stepped in, dd was happily at another preschool and I did not want to move her.

The good part of the story is that 3-4 years later dd had a friend in elemtary school who had a younger sibling who was pa. Turned out the pa sibling was at this same Montesorri school that had refused to give epi to dd. The mom said the director did not give her a hard time about the epi at all. So even though by the time the Justice Dept. stepped in it did not help my situation, it did help someone else in the future.

On Jun 21, 2007

Thank you for your replies.

If anyone else has experience with a Montessori program can they let me know and how they have worked with the school?

Other questions . . . For those of you in a Montessori program do you feel it has helped your FA child in building up his/her confidence?

Could someone explain if an IHP is a legal document? I have used it as a tool to make sure everyone knew what everyone

On Jun 21, 2007

ok, forget everything I said about feeling ok with my son's school. Yesterday they had Honey Nut Cherrios for Snack and he was upset because for some reason he couldn't get to or eat his snack without being what he felt was too near the nut snack. I have a call into the teacher to see what happened.

Also a child teased him sometime this week, saying they had nuts in their lunch.

and to top it off we went for a play date after school yesterday and the mom had ordered Pizza Hut pizza - I was sure I had told her that one was off limits.

I hate nuts,

Sorry for the vent

Nichele

On Jun 22, 2007

IHP is not legally binding. A 504 is somewhat legally binding. I say 'somewhat' because there has to be a pattern of violations of the 504 procedures or accommodations and then you would report it to the Office of Civil Rights. They would then formally investigate and make recommendations. Eventually..., the school could lose funding, but they try to work with schools to implement changes. I'm not sure a 504 would apply to a private preschool. Discrimination laws through the Dept. of Justice would probably be more applicable. Someone else (or do a search on 504 in this section) can probably better explain what is and is not applicable.

Now, as far as you looking at the ingredients for projects. It is a huge red flag to me that the school is against this. I have a child in elementary school with food allergies. It has been essential for her survival that she NOT trust teachers to provide her safe food. Mistakes happen and they happen more than your school obviously wants to believe. The goal should not be to get your child to trust other adults in regards to her food allergies. The goal should be on your child knowing clearly what foods she can and cannot eat (ideally only food from home) and definitely a no food sharing policy.

When my daughter started preschool, the school was peanut-,tree nut-free so I didn't understand why the nurse at the preschool insisted all of the food allergic children bring their own snack. I felt badly for my DD that she would be "different". I am now so grateful to this nurse, and my DD is very clear what the rules are about food. The nurse explained that the rules were in place so that the children with food allergies would be very clear once they were in a more independent situation (elementary school, with friends, etc.).

I would hesitate to send my children to a school with resistant staff. I definitely would not send them to a school where it was a problem for me to check ingredients. Just as an example, my DD's preschool would hand out written ingedient lists, the project, the recipe and the brands 2 days prior to the activity. Parents were encouraged to come in and verify the ingredients, again, and to call manufacturers if necessary (the nurse at the school already called manufacturers prior to approving the activity). We then had to sign the bottom of the slip and return it acknowledging that we had been notified and whether or not our children could participate.

Good luck, Nicole

On Jun 22, 2007

As for ingrediants in food projects....if they aren't checked he doesn't participate. BUT his class hasn't done that many projects. Valentines day they decorated cookies..... I made sugar cookies for the first time in my life! LOL. Then I brought his own frosting and sprinkles.

I can not imagine our school calling me and saying "next week we are going to X lets get together on the ingredients". That is what I had envisioned...but it doesn't happen. I just observe at drop off and ask the teachers what they may have planned or notice a sign on the door announcing some activity and sort of stumble into knowing what is going on. I also think that they have just refrained from doing as many food projects which I guess is good - but I would be totally willing to do the work to make it safe and fun.

Bottom line though - if I don't check the ingredients he doesn't participate. I just have found that it is up to me to know what is going on in class. Not ideal especailly if you are in a more traditional job than me.

[This message has been edited by Sarahb (edited June 22, 2007).]

On Jun 22, 2007

Sarah,

Have you noticed if they have many food related "works" each month? If so what have these "works" been.

On Jun 22, 2007

His class hasn't had any since he was PA....I don't think they had any before either. But I know one of the other teachers was doing that....they made mac n cheese as a class - she told a MFA kid's mom the day before so she could bring in a substitute - um the kid is allergic to wheat and dairy so it put the mom in bad spot. Anyway...it really doesn't seem to be part of their "work".

They do have "works" where they pour colored water from one container into another and others that work with water. OK...there is one with corn kernals and a tweaser now that I think about it....I think that's it...but I will take a good look on Monday and talk to one of the teachers to see if that is common in other Montessori's and maybe they just stopped with all of the allergy kids here. I'd say that they are close to 10% with epi's.

On Jun 23, 2007

We had a play date on MI today - one of the boys from our school is going to go to your school...they are really looking forward to it.

Of course I reminded them about the peanut policies....they are well aware and compassionate about it. The boy is very nice and 4 and half - maybe in your sons class.

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