My child got expelled from a preschool because of her PA -- what should we do?

Posted on: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 4:30am
MomtoAsh's picture
Joined: 12/04/2006 - 09:00


We found out my 2-yr-old daughter was PA a few months ago. The dr. said she also might be allergic to tree nuts, too, but we're going to wait to test her on those until she's 3 (until then, we are supposed to act like she's allergic and not give her any). Because my child's reaction if she ingested peanuts could be deadly, and because she's only 2, we asked the preschool (it's a private school that goes from preschool through junior high) to

(1) refrain from serving peanut/nut products in my child's classroom and

(2) let us send a note home to parents of other children in the class informing them that our child has a peanut allergy and asking them not to send peanut/nut products to school. (We also sent an epipen to school.)

The head of the school declined both requests, basically because it would cause some imposition on her cafeteria staff (they would have to prepare nut-free snacks for my child's room) and on the other parents (to have to refrain from sending nut products). So, we got the allergist to send a letter to the school asking her to do these things. We followed that up with a letter of our own asking (again) that these measures be implemented and giving her some statistics on the rising incidence of peanut allergies, etc.

We gave the head of the school our letter on Monday. On Wednesday, she called me into her office as I was picking my child up and said the school can't accommodate my requests because it would be too hard (for the reasons previously stated) and they can't keep my child at the school because the risk of legal liability is too high (my husband and I are both attorneys, and I think she had just realized that, possibly from looking back at my daughter's application). She told us she wanted my daughter's last day to be Friday. So, she gave us 48 hours notice that she wanted us out.

On Thursday, I told her that I couldn't get my child into another preschool until the end of the next week so I needed three more days of care (past Friday), and she said okay. My daughter's last day will be this coming Wednesday. After that, she'll start at a totally nut-free school.

What should we do about the old school expelling her? Should I file a complaint with the Dept. of Justice under Title III of the ADA? This school is covered by the ADA because it's not affiliated with a religious institution. We don't want to stay in the school (for obvious reasons), but we don't want another peanut-allergic kid later on to be kicked out too because we didn't take appropriate measures to stop the school from reacting this way. It was very difficult for us to find another preschool on such short notice, and the only way we could get our daughter in the new school was for me to alter my work schedule to where I will stay home on T/Th (the school only had a M/W/F spot). Luckily, I have a job that allows me a lot of flexibility, but most people aren't so fortunate. I don't want other PA kids to suffer because we didn't take appropriate actions in this situation.

Please advise!

Posted on: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 5:28am
Momcat's picture
Joined: 03/15/2005 - 09:00

Have you looked at [url=""][/url] ?
There is a precedent in the La Petite Academy settlement [url=""][/url]
If you feel strongly about this, I think it would be a good thing to pursue. My daughter was also kicked out of a public preschool because they refused to administer epipen. I was given no warning about their change in policy and, like you, was forced to find another school on short notice. I did not pursue the matter--they "generously" returned my deposit.
Let me know what you decide! I would like to know the outcome of your efforts.
Mom to 7 yr old PA/TNA daughter and 4 yr old son who is allergic to eggs.

Posted on: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 5:40am
chanda4's picture
Joined: 12/14/2006 - 09:00

I certainly don't have any suggests for your next step, if it were me I'd be posting like yourself asking how *far* you could take this...and I would. How dare they do that to any child. I'd make darn sure they remember who I was and that they never did it to anyone else...shame on them....and GOOD LUCK to you!

Posted on: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 8:13am
Lindajo's picture
Joined: 10/14/2003 - 09:00

That is terrible! Bring it to the attention of your local news! The last thing they want is publicity for this. That ought to put them in their place and show them you are not taking this lightly.

Posted on: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 8:28am
chanda4's picture
Joined: 12/14/2006 - 09:00

good one, either the local paper(even writing a letter to the editor maybe??) or the local news....they may go for a story like this. Good luck!!!

Posted on: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 10:14am
Gwen 5's picture
Joined: 01/24/2003 - 09:00

I would really explore this website and in praticular you should look at all of Nutternomore and RhondaRS's posts-
they are very well versed with the whole school thing- also look under the school's section on this board- you will find alot of helpful information.
Your school is wrong and I really hope you will persue this enough to let them know that they can not pick and choose who attends their school based on medical needs!
keep us posted!

Posted on: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 1:01pm
Carefulmom's picture
Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

Been there, done that. You should report it to the Justice Department. You have a really good case. My dd is now almost 12. Many preschools refused to take her, but most it was verbal. However, one preschool after I toured it and went back to register her, the director met me at the door with a letter from an attorney. It said I had to sign a release and would not require the school to adminster epi, that I was giving the school permission to call 911 and do nothing else. The Justice Department has a handout, it is question/answer, and there is a question specifically about life threatening food allergies and epipens. What your school is doing is illegal. So when it happened to us, I reported it to the Justice Department. They take about 5% of the cases that are presented to them. They took mine, we met, they sent a letter to the preschool and investigated. The whole process took many months, and by the time they even took my case, dd was in another preschool and happy. Still what the first preschool did was wrong. Years later, around second grade, in dd`s brownie troop there was a girl who had a younger brother who was pa. The pa brother was in preschool. So I asked the mom, did she have trouble finding a preschool that would take him with the pa and the epi. The mom said no, no problem at all. I asked where he was and he was at the same preschool that had asked me to sign the statement that they did not have to admister epi! I was so glad I reported it. That pa boy was able to go to preschool, because I reported them to the Justice Department. I really encourage you to do it.
[This message has been edited by Carefulmom (edited January 12, 2007).]

Posted on: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 1:47pm
Joanne's picture
Joined: 02/22/1999 - 09:00

This links to a thread of a few years ago about a similar situation.
[This message has been edited by Joanne (edited January 12, 2007).]

Posted on: Sat, 01/13/2007 - 12:28am
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

A very similar thing happened to me last daughter was expelled from her private preschool after I asked the school to keep kids from bringing in nut-containing snacks as they walked in the door. (one of my daughter's classmates brought in a nutty granola bar and was leaving crumbs all over the classroom!)
Here's what to do. You can file a Title III ADA complaint with the DOJ, but they likely won't pursue it. You can request that the DOJ set up a mediation session with the school to get them to change their policies, but I reccommend going through your state's civil rights commission.
The route we chose to take was to file a complaint with our state civil rights commission since they enforce the state's version of the ADA laws. Your state probably has a law against disability discrimination in places of public accommodation, such as private schools. We had a mediation session with a mediator from the civil rights commission, my husband and I and some reps. from the school. We didn't need a lawyer, although the school brought their lawyer to the session, but she wasn't much help to them (heeheehee). After about 5 hrs, we worked out a very satisfactory mediation agreement, and they really got the message to not refuse accommodations or expel FA students! BTW, if the school refuses medation or if the mediation is not satisfactory, you can have the civil rights commission investigate the school and bring them to trial, if needed.
Feel free to email me for more details. Hope this helps.

Posted on: Sat, 01/13/2007 - 12:33am
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

One more important thing... get them to write a letter to you telling you the exact reason why your child was expelled. Get a copy of the school's policies--do they have an anti-discrimination statement?
If they won't send you a letter of explanation, send them a certified letter of understanding and ask that they correct your letter if your version of the story is not correct. Try to get documentation before you file a complaint with the state.
Our preschool was actually stupid enough to refund us a non-refundable registration fee and to write us a nice letter telling us that she was expelled because of our concerns about school policies... lucky for us, the admin. was not all that sharp...

Posted on: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 6:12am
msampayo's picture
Joined: 03/24/2011 - 20:26

I can't believe we as humans have come to be so cold!! I have a severe peanut allergic child has one percent in outgrowing it...on top of that when spring comes along he is Mr.hives and rashes!! Due to oak...I was called in today to the office that I can't pass information regarding peanut allergies, and that my son has to live with the fact that its a peanut world! They are a private school and that's how it goes?? But our kids do too!! I'm lost don't know where to begin!! Please help

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