Lunch with the Principal in New School

Posted on: Tue, 05/16/2006 - 9:50pm
notnutty's picture
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Tomorrow my pa son and I are going to the new school for next year to have lunch with the principal. The principal wants us to come to make sure we like the way the lunch room is set up currently to accommodate allergies and to see if my ds seems to have any problems with the environment. He is very contact sensitive and also possible airborne.

The real sticking point is peanut butter is served everyday at a separate stand, but never on the lunch menu. So anyone who goes to the pb stand sits at the red table and anyone who brings a home lunch must sit at the red table. There are 2 green tables next to eachother so my son will never sit near a red table. Do you think this design will work?

I am very nervous because my son has never been in such a peanut filled environment and this "trial run" makes me worried. Am I missing something? Thanks for any advice.

Donna

Posted on: Tue, 05/16/2006 - 11:08pm
Gail W's picture
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What are the hand washing procedures?

Posted on: Wed, 05/17/2006 - 12:13am
notnutty's picture
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I am proposing the following:
*Wash hand upon entering the classroom each day and after eating snacks, lunch and after any food is eaten or used in a class project. As an alternative a "handi-wipe" may be used.
* Teacher will ensure that all students use proper hand-washing technique.
*Teachers and classroom volunteers will wash hands upon entry into classroom and after eating.
* No community towels or cloths.
Do you think this will work?

Posted on: Thu, 05/18/2006 - 10:01pm
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Well we had our "trial run" and everything in the cafeteria was set up very well. I was extremly impressed with how everything was designed. No coughs, rashes, sneezes...I am thrilled about that.
However, I did get the "we don't think we can designate his classroom as peanut-free" What?? If his classroom is not peanut free there is no use sending him to school, period. We have another meeting set up after I meet with my allergist and get school emergency procedures written up. They would like to designate his classroom as a "peanut-safe" zone...why must we play these games? "We cannot guarantee his classroom will be peanut-free".
Would you be o.k. with this?
Donna

Posted on: Fri, 05/19/2006 - 12:10am
Gail W's picture
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Quote:Originally posted by notnutty:
[b]"we don't think we can designate his classroom as peanut-free" [/b]
Hm m m m .... I think the district has had a legal consult.
They're beginning to understand the gravity and seriousness of the situation. That's good IMO because maybe this means that they've begun to process what this all actually means and have realized that this is not as easy as first thought. But that doesn't change you child's needs any.
You need to turn this around... and that's not hard. You can do that easily.
Quote:Originally posted by notnutty:
[b]"We cannot guarantee his classroom will be peanut-free".[/b]
okay. So they don't want to focus on the "guaranteed" outcome. You just need to adjust your strategy. Steer the focus on the "goal" (i.e. peanut free) and what exactly the staff will be required to do to reach that goal. Try to keep the focus on the written procedures that that the staff will follow. Can't they control their staff? Why not? You can press them to answer specific questions about how food will be approved, who will do that, etc. . . . and if they are written into the 504 plan then, to me, that's the best "guarantee" you'll be able to obtain.

Posted on: Fri, 05/19/2006 - 12:25am
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Thanks Gail...you always have such good advice...I appreciate it. Yeah, my reply was you can call it peanut-safe...peanut-free whatever, as long as the handwashing, snack, birthday, etc...procedures are followed, I really don't care about the label. The good news is I do have the principal on my side because she actually has a family member's child starting kindergarten the fall of '07, so she wants to get things in place for him.
You are right. I think the nurse is starting to understand that I am very serious about these accommodations and that I can hold my own in a meeting. Luckily I have had 6 years of IEP meetings under my belt with my 10 year old ds so I am used to dealing with school administrators.
I can't wait to meet with my allergist again and have him confirm the "peanut-free" environment. So far he has just said "anyway peanut residue and its products are eliminated from the school setting and therefore enabeling Caleb to fully participate in all school activities will be greatly appreciated." I think maybe this language needs to be a little stronger??
I really think the school has ds' best interests at heart, it is just a matter of implemenation and follow-through.
Thanks again...
Donna

Posted on: Fri, 05/19/2006 - 12:53am
Gail W's picture
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Quote:Originally posted by notnutty:
[b]I really think the school has ds' best interests at heart, it is just a matter of implemenation and follow-through.[/b]
Good will goes a long way, doesn't it? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
You're "the first", and there's always a learning curve when you're "the first". So both you and the school will probably make mistakes. . . at least I certainly did. How you work these out is so important.
You're doing a great job!
Edited to add that this:
[i]"We cannot guarantee peanut-free".[/i]
became a pet peeve of mine. I think that when a school administrator says this to the parent of a child with LTFAs, the parent must address it at some point because they need to understand how disrespectful it is for them to say this to us. It's superficial "CYA" mentality, and, to me, it's very insulting.
In my situation, it was pretty clear that the staff must have received some instruction to respond to me with that disclaimer because I was hearing it consistently. I finally blew my top, and it was actually a good thing. The principal stated the "no guarantee" mantra to me for what was the 4th or 5th time and I point blank asked her, [i]"Why do you keep telling me that?" [/i]She said something like, "because I need you to know that there aren't any certainties and that we can only do the best we can." But why was she repeating it in every conversation? No response. She was the receptacle of my mounting frustration, and I just let it out: How dare she try to tell me, a mother, of the uncertainties of managing my child's food allergies. Did she think I didn't realize this? How many times was she planning on "reminding" me? No one, [i]no one[/i] knew that better than me because I had been the one who gave my DD the food that caused two anaphylactic reactions. After reading the labels and determining them safe. Me. I watched the reaction and I administered the epi. Me. [i]She[/i] didn't need to remind [i]me.[/i] No one needed to remind me. No one. . . because it was with me every second of every day.
Needless to say no one mentioned the "no guarantee" mantra to me again. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
You might want to think about how you're going to handle it if you continue to hear that pet phrase.
[This message has been edited by Gail W (edited May 19, 2006).]

Posted on: Fri, 05/19/2006 - 5:29am
Corvallis Mom's picture
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I agree-- this is the nicer-looking but more evil twin of... "Well, if he/she's [i]that[/i] allergic, how do you even ________??"
I have exploded over that one a few times...or just snapped "I never thought of that. Got any other useful tips??" or even "Thanks for the reminder, but I think she's figured out her life isn't fair. Could you make her a list of things she can't ever do?" or "Wow-- do you ask the deaf how they enjoy concerts, too?"
Now I am able to be more calm and just explain that MANY of the things that they are thinking about require hours or even weeks of planning and extensive modifications for us. Sometimes it proves impossible in the end, even after a lot of time and effort. My daughter is used to living with many limitations, though they may be invisible to others. Our lifestyle revolves around her safety because it must. It is deeply hurtful to imply that we are trying to make our problems someone else's, as we frequently go to a great deal of trouble NOT to cause inconvenience to others.
(sigh) This [i]is[/i] more effective, I regret to say. Hothead that I am, I really prefer the snappy comeback. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img]
[This message has been edited by Corvallis Mom (edited May 19, 2006).]
[This message has been edited by Corvallis Mom (edited May 19, 2006).]

Posted on: Sun, 05/21/2006 - 10:40pm
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Quote:Originally posted by Gail W:
[b]"...How dare she try to tell me, a mother, of the uncertainties of managing my child's food allergies. Did she think I didn't realize this? How many times was she planning on "reminding" me?..."[/b]
That is such a good point. I guess I will have to remember that one. Would they say "we can't guarantee your wheelchair bound child will be able to navigate around the classroom." Not in a million years. I think I need to keep good communication going, but also make sure they are treating his LTFA with the same respect they would treat other disabilities. I think "hidden disabilities" are harder to deal with because it is not obvious on a daily basis.
Donna
[This message has been edited by notnutty (edited May 22, 2006).]

Posted on: Sun, 05/21/2006 - 10:52pm
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Quote:Originally posted by Corvallis Mom:
[b]...Our lifestyle revolves around her safety because it must. It is deeply hurtful to imply that we are trying to make our problems someone else's, as we frequently go to a great deal of trouble NOT to cause inconvenience to others...[/b]
This is also something I need to remember. When the nurse was stating the the parent's may have a hard time with not bringing birthday treats, unless it is something off the safe list, I said, "well if the school was implementing its wellness policy, treats should not be brought for birthdays anyway." This took away the inconvenience factor relating to peanuts. I think the nurse thought she had a ding-a-ling on her hands (me [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]), but I think she is quickly realizing I have done my homework and I have thought through many of these issues already.
I too have heard the "how do you go out to eat?", "how do you go to sporting events?" questions from the school administrators. I simply have stated that I need to be careful and plan ahead. Just like they need to do!
Donna

Posted on: Tue, 05/16/2006 - 11:08pm
Gail W's picture
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What are the hand washing procedures?

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