I am so grateful for this sight. I cried and laughed and felt like I had come home. Thank-you to all who have made this possible. I have never chatted on the computer, however I really need to vent and hope someone has some suggestions...here it goes... Our son is a full day Kindergartener. He is severely allergic to peanuts/tree nuts. We searched for a year to find the right public school and built a home right behind it! We had a wonderful two year relationship with our son's preschool and was looking forward to another successful year. As all of you, we began the education process with the school, and our 504 group early. This included literature, speaking at an in-service and educating the 504 group, speaking to our son's class and educating the teacher who was present at the above meetings as well. However, beginning with the first day of school when the teacher fed our son a snack that was not the homemade one I sent from home (and had just pointed out to her the location of it that morning). Despite our son's objection, she chose not to listen and told him it was okay to eat the other snack. Fortunally, he did not have a reaction. We were devestated. We voiced our concern the the principle who said support her, she misunderstood. We were devestated and felt for our son who was really devestated because he felt he had let us down. We made it clear he did the right thing by making the teacher aware he could not eat it and were and are so proud of him. I felt there was one good thing that came out of this. In addition to our son being safe, hopefully, she would never make that mistake again. However, at the Autumn Party as I was retreiving my son's safe cupcake (that in no way resembles the store bought ones, believe me!) I see her give our son a plate of cookies and cupcake. Once again, our 5 year old is the last line of defense as he looked up and told her he could not eat that, he has his own "safe" food. I was shocked! Her inability to consistantly maintain a safe enviroment continued. Including candy that contained peanut products in a jar above her desk. I happened to noticed it while volunteering in the classroom. At that time I was volunteering once a week. (I felt like I needed to be in there everyday!) After I removed the peanut products from the peanut-free classroom she informed me I could only volunteer once a month instead of once a week. The teacher told me I made her nervous and stressed her out. Additionally, the teacher left our son in the care of a para who was not aware or trained on his allergy. Because of this the para did not see that hands were washed before re-entering the classroom from a commons area in the schoo. Our son had a reaction and spent the rest of the day at home. Then another day the teacher left him in a classroom that is not peanut-free one afternoon when he could not participant in an activity. When I phoned her about it she told me it was okay, the other teacher knew how to use the Epi-pen. Of course I once again told her that just because he has an Epi-pen around his waist does not mean he would survive a reaction. That is why we work so hard to prevent one! Then another day concerned parent of a classmate phoned me when the teacher distributed candy to the class that contained peanut products. Our son was ill that day, however, the CHILD wanted to know why the teacher could bring in candy our son is allergic to when the room is suppose to be peanut-free...Okay, you get the picture. We have repeatedly spoke to the teacher and have been in the Principals office too many times to count in an effort to review and re-educate the teacher and Principal. We have delegated responsiblities to other staff members and even our 5 year old son to increase his level of safely. Up to Nov. we had been asked to keep these violations to ourselves in an effort to resolve this in house. We asked the Principal for a teacher change on the first day or a para to meet his needs repeately over the past three months. They were denied. It was at that point we brought in the Special Services Dir. who proposed three solutions. They were the two just mentioned and leave the situation as is and continue training. Well, it was obvious that was not working. The Principal continued to stall and eventually chose to do nothing. He repeatedly told us he has confidence in the teacher. Can you believe this? So, we approached the Superiendent who proposed the same solution. Everyone was quick to offered possible solutions but no one was willing to implement them. Meanwhile, we did not want to send our son to school in this enviroment. He was ill a few days, I home schooled a few days and at our request the Principal added para support temporarily. Finally, I contacted the local media who was interested in our story as well as the US Dept. Of Civil Rights who thought this would be a file they would be interested in opening. That week I also spoke to the Commissioners office at the MO. State Educaton Dept. who suggested we contact the Pres. of the School Board. We did and the next morning the Sup. and Principal wanted to meet with us again and find a solution. Finally, someone who truly understood the severity of the situation (The School Board President) and wanted to do the right thing. The district agreeded to provide a pt. para in the morning from arrival through lunch. These are the critical times we identified including lunch, recess and the introduction of crafts and activities. (The teacher sees unable to plan ahead and anticipate activities that our son cannot participate in. For example, at the Christmas party she informed that our son was the only one in the class that did not make a Christmas Present (handprint mug) because she was afraid to paint his hand. We have always made it perfectly clear that I will always provide a substitute craft or activity for him. I just sent several bags of stickers for her to give to our son the next time she visable distributed candy to all the students except him, which she recently did.) Anyway...a pt. time para has been hired and just when we think we are on our way to providing a safe enviroment the Principal refused to word the para's responsiblities in the 504 plan that truly reflects the reason she was hired. He thinks assigning her to the class, not our son, and putting her in the hall to assist students who are having problems reading is acceptable. It never ends!!! We are sick, frustrated, exhausted and shocked at the inablility of so called professionals to do their job! Whew, there it is and I think I feel a little better. I would love to hear what you think, any suggestions? Has anyone experienced anything like this? Thanks for listening.
[This message has been edited by dominick'smom (edited January 01, 2002).]
On Dec 31, 2001
How awful!!! My daughter is is first grade and no, we have NEVER had anything like that happen. She is in public school in California. I do have some suggestions, though. First of all, I am not sure if you are already doing this, but I send ALL of my daughter`s food. She is NEVER allowed to eat any other food, even if it is identical to hers. I have written lots of comments about school and preschool under the "Living With PA" categories. Although my daughter`s teacher is great, there have slip ups, when there was a sub, when there was a birthday party and birthday mom tried to give her food. Anyhow, I taught my daughter NEVER to eat any other food. It certainly is terrible that your son said that he couldn`t eat it and they told him to eat it anyhow, but he has to just keep saying no.
Now, as far as the school, the person who saved me at my daughter`s school was the school nurse. Although she is only there once a week due to budget, she is supposed to be the advocate for Special Needs kids including 504s. Since she works for the school district, I would think that if she says things must change, I would expect them to listen to her. This year I requested that the playyard supervisor be trained in an Epipen. After the kids eat lunch, they go out to the playyard, so if she had a reaction her teacher wouldn`t be there. Anyhow, he refused to learn and told me I should home school my child. The principal took his side, because she was afraid he would quit. It was a hard job to fill because it was thirty minutes in the morning and one hour at lunch and no one wanted to tie up their day for an hour and a half of pay. Anyhow, after this I went to the school nurse. Within hours, she called me and said they would be training EVERY TEACHER IN THE SCHOOL AND EVERY EMPLOYEE how to use an Epipen.
If that doesn`t work, there should be some sort of school district head nurse in your state capitol. I can`t remember the title, ours was in Sacramento and she was great. Also, since you have had many discussions with these people and gotten nowhere, I find that at this point it is time to write a letter. That way everything is documented. I don`t believe sueing is a solution to everything, but when you start having every conversation in writing (return receipt is great),they think you are going to sue and they shape up. Get the articles on Nathan Walters and photocopy it and include it. He died due to the fault of the school district and they paid bigtime!
Lastly, get your allergist to write a letter. I have done that at least three times, both in preschool and kindergarten. It is amazing how that changes things! My allergist is great--he tells me to write it, then he changes whatever needs to be changed, and sends it off. You can`t imagine how much effect it had in preschool, night and day.
Good luck. You can get at least five articles on Nathan Walters from the online version of the Spokane newspaper. I think it is [url="http://www.spokesman.com."]www.spokesman.com.[/url] If that doesn`t work, do a Yahoo search, and type in these three words "peanut allergy death". That was how I got to the articles.
On Dec 31, 2001
One more thing. There is a guy at FAAN 800-929-4040 named Chris Weiss who deals with legal problems. He is not a lawyer, but he is very aware of the law. He probably knows who at your state capitol to call. It is some head nurse for Special Needs. Also, here is another thought. It is terrible you should have to do this, but maybe you should write a note telling the teachers that your son cannot eat any food but his own. Have your son carry it, and the next time they tell him to eat something, he can show it. He sounds very smart.
On Jan 1, 2002
Hi Careful Mom, Thank-you for taking the time to offer your great suggestions. You are so lucky to be in the CA school system. I attended the Food Allergy Conference in Newport last year and was impressed. I met reps. of the LA school district who were there to learn, and take back information to make their schools safe. I think I will write a note specifically stating our policy that "our son will only eat food that is brought from home" and leave it in our son's backpack for him to use if he is the last line of defense again. That is a great idea. Hopefully there will not be a next time, but if there is then he can get the note signed by us and show it to her. (I have written and told the teacher a million times, I recently send a thenk-you letter home with his classmates thanking them for their viligance in keeping his classroom peanut-free) Like you, I only send snacks and lunches from home that are homemade to minimize the risk of a reaction. Also, that way there is no question as to which snack is his. I send his snack on a daily basis because I do not feel his teacher has the capacity to keep his food safe or straight. You know, I also thought the nurse would be more of an advocate. She is aware of all the violations, she has sat in on all the re-educatiion meeting with his teacher. Unfortunally, she did not know anything about Anaphylaxis before we came along. However, she is great about monitoring his welts and administering benadryl when needed. Fortunally, we feel confident in her ability to react if necessary. I like your advice about documentation. Up to this point I have kept my own personal documentation (which would come in hand if I have to file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights) and have written a few follow-up letters. However, I will now leave a clear letter trail summerizing all of our meetings. Thank-you. Also, when I contacted the media they told me about the Nathan Walters tragic story and also suggested I incorporate that with my training materials and show the teacher. I have included it in the info. notebook I have prepared to educate the new para. Thankyou. Also, right before the Christmas break I did call our Allergist because I did not know where to turn. And you are right, (I wish I would have phoned his office earlier) he sent an excellent letter - straight to the point and touched on the medical and legal ramafications of their actions and the need for them to undertand the severity of the situation. It should be in there mailbox when they return from break. Also, thanks for the info on Chris at Food Allergy Nerwork. He is the one that gave me the information on the Mo. State Education Office and The Office of Civil Rights. He is a valuable resource. Thank-you for all your great advice Careful Mom! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
On Jan 1, 2002
Dear Dominick's mom
Hang in there! I know how tough it is, I feel I have had to deal with schools with both my kids are pa, second grade and kindergarten. I have had to learn how to get the teachers to cooperate and let them know you are on their side and your volunteer not to check up on them, but to aid them so the pressure is off of them when you are there. My oldest when in kindergarten almost died due to a teacher screw up. I dislike the teacher, but did not point fingers. What really irritates me is that she is still at the school two years later and she has a pa kid in her class and still has not learned her lesson. Thank God my pa son has the other teacher this year.
The principal is totally uncooperative, never returns phone calls when there is a problem etc... My second grader has looped (same teacher for 2 years in a row) and the teacher is fantastic. Hang in there and it is ridiculous that they did not switch teachers for you. I wish more pa kids were in your school. There is power in numbers. My daughter was the first in her school two years ago and they treated me like a psycho, now there are four kids and it is much better.
Obtain as many newspaper articles as the above mom mentioned and keep a file and submit it to the teachers, principal and school nurse. Good luck!!
On Jan 11, 2002
Dominick`s mom, just wondering how things are going? Our school started up again last Monday; did yours also? Did the letter from the allergist help? It is so horrible when your child`s life is in the school`s hands and you need them to cooperate and they won`t. How are things going? I really feel for you.
[This message has been edited by Carefulmom (edited January 11, 2002).]