Need Some Help Pondering My Position(s) Re School Stuff

Author:
Publish date:
Updated on

I really need some help pondering my position(s) re school stuff and I'd really appreciate any advice anyone has. I have a few things whirling around in my brain and one part of me knows my position (and it's fairly strong) and yet another part of me is beginning to question that position.

When Jesse first started school at age 3-3/4, I was told by his teacher that he would be sitting beside other children eating pb. He had just had an anaphylactic reaction six months previous to this where he almost died. I thought, okay, he doesn't have to legally go to school until Grade 1. I'll keep him home. Settled down, of course, during only a 20 minute walk home to realize that there must be a school board policy in place that would ensure the relative safety of my son at school.

So, in Ontario, we have a school board policy (which is pretty well the same from district to district) which ensures the right of PA children to a "peanut free" classroom. This right would extend up until when they complete school in Grade 12, so at the age of 17 or 18.

Fine. Found the school board policy, had a peanut free classroom instituted for Jesse. His teacher for JK and SK worked really well with me re his PA and she wouldn't allow "may contain" products into the classroom. I had suggested that perhaps the other children could eat them (they were holiday cookies) but simply not Jesse. She was adamant - peanut free to her meant no may contains or made ins. With her backing, I tended to agree with this position.

I had a lot of difficulty with the principal of that school but did manage to work things out with her by the time we left that town, to the point where the school was "reduce the risk" and other teachers were choosing to run peanut free classrooms.

Then, we move here. I'm fine last year. Communicate with the new principal before we even arrive in town and everything seems to go well last year really re PA. No complaints heard from other parents (even though I am sure there were some), the staff were accepting, etc.

So, change schools this year. The principal is working really well with me re this but I feel as though I am constantly butting heads with Jesse's teacher.

Here's the latest situation. I go into the classroom the other day and a few things in the garbage are "may contain" items which, according to Jesse's school plan are not allowed in the peanut free classroom. So, I come home and e-mail her re this violation (if you will).

The other thing was Jesse came home last week with two round donut things I had sent into the classroom that had coconut on them. I asked him why he hadn't eaten them because he loves them. The other child whose Mother's confidentiality I felt I had violated (different thread here) is allergic to coconut as well as the other foods his Mom told me about. I went "Oh my God" and both kids are looking at me and asking me when I'm going to stop it. I was really upset because no one has told us not to send coconut items into the classroom and I know how I would feel if a peanut product was sent in. So, I had also asked the teacher in the e-mail why we hadn't been told about the coconut.

To-day, she stopped me after school. She said that she didn't know where the "may contain" items came from that were in her classroom garbage but thought that the cheese and cracker mix ones were okay because they are elsewhere in the school. It's like WHAT? Yes, they are elsewhere in the school because it is not a peanut free school, you are simply running a peanut free classroom.

She said that she wasn't aware of any food allergies the other child had except to shellfish (meanwhile, his Mother has told me that she spoke with the teacher specifically about watermelon so the teacher would not give it to him in the summer months). I said that no, I had been told tree nuts (not peanuts), shellfish, and watermelon, but not coconut.

The teacher then goes on to say that perhaps we weren't told about the coconut because the Mother is in the classroom a great part of the time. Fine. I understand that. The woman obviously has a totally different comfort zone than I do and I guess she feels if she is in the classroom, should her son react, at least she's there volunteering. I don't know.

But the way the teacher said it was like I was the pain in the a** for having the requirements I do and for not being in the classroom to watch my son. She just looks at me with this stone face and you can tell she's really ticked off with me each time she gets caught (if you will) bugging something up.

Come home, read her monthly newsletter, which is mostly about the Work to Rule situation. But lumped into thank-you for accommodating or understanding about the different work-to-rule things is "no peanut products". I feel it should have been a totally separate thing, but perhaps I'm being nitpicky. I just feel that the food allergy should not have been placed in with basically an apology re a political situation the teachers are in.

As most of you can see, I've posted different questions re schools on the board and Sue re-raised some older ones as well.

I am thinking of removing the "may contain" clause from the school plan, but not for this year. But what would the ramifications of this be when I'm already dealing with a reluctant parent community and difficult teacher? How come we couldn't have "may contain" last year and we can this year and the classroom is still "peanut free"? that kinda thing.

Also, then, I was questioning about my requirements that Jesse have a "peanut free" classroom. We are trying, each of us in our own ways, to teach our children to navigate through life in a peanut full world. If I keep him in a peanut free classroom until he reaches 17 or 18 years old, am I teaching him how to navigate in the world? Or, am I ensuring my child's safety, to the best of my abilities, within his rights, until an age when I no longer can? For example, the next year, he'd be off to university or college where no concessions would be made.

I called the superintendent of the board tonight who deals with the policy re anaphylaxis and have to speak with him tomorrow. I did speak with Jesse's principal tonight and asked her, in her experience, what was the highest grade where a parent had requested a peanut free classroom. Grade 8. She is e-mailing a high school principal in another town to get an answer re high school.

So, why wouldn't I take this right when I have it and have already used it successfully (albeit with much head banging against walls) for three years, now going on four? Why not keep Jesse safe at school for as long as I can?

What would people think if next year or the year after, in the same school, I chose not to have the same requirements? I'm even unclear as to how they would react if I took out the "may contains".

It's funny how things change. I started out when Jesse was 3-3/4 years old, got the information I needed for a peanut free classroom and thought, okay, that's it. Just kinda thought, okay, that's it until he finishes school (not post-secondary). But along the way and with different experiences, I do feel you begin to question what your needs and requirements are.

I know that many people have posted that they don't have the peanut free classroom requirement because they don't want focus on their child's PA (another comfort zone, which I also understand). But, we are very "out there" as far as Jesse's PA, with newspaper articles, etc.

And just curious, kinda a side-note, but if you knew that a child in the classroom was allergic to coconut, but hadn't received a note home saying so (because of the Mother's comfort zone and the teacher's obvious ignorance), would you send coconut products into the classroom?

Many thanks and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Nov 18, 2002

Hi Cindy- from all your posts I've noticed you've never mentioned the school nurse. Can she maybe help? I know that our school nurse has been so helpful. Our teachers have been great, but the nurse is still making sure that no mistakes happen.

No I wouldn't send in coconut or anything else someone was allergic to. Maybe because I just don't want the worry. In fact, my dd's class has a little boy with a metabolic disorder and his food is even more limited than my daughter. I was lucky enough to be a homeroom mom and I made sure that he was able to eat everything the other kids could. His mom was shocked I would go out of my way. I told her she did for me, I was just returning the favor.

I feel for you and Jessie. It has to be so hard dealing with that teacher. Maybe the nurse could sit her down and sort everything out? I'm lucky (knock on wood) that if I see a problem or whatnot, I am to talk to the nurse or the principal- they will take care of it. That takes the pressure off me and the teacher doesn't take it out on me. For example- she sent home the snack chart and only put "no peanut products". I asked her why she didn't put "no nut products" either and she got very defensive and told me nothing "really has nuts in it". sigh. I waited a day and mentioned it to the nurse and said I wanted it changed and it was. The nurse was kind enough to make seem like "she" noticed it and not me. Oh, I almost forgot- in addition to my 504- the teachers got together and assigned one person to check all the snacks first thing in the morning. That way, if the teachers are busy, reading the ingredients cannot be forgotten.

Hope this helps. Take care, Kelly

On Nov 18, 2002

KayMarks, thank-you for your wonderful, well thought out response to my dilemma. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] Only problem is, sometime in the last decade or two since I completed school in the province of Ontario, we no longer have public school nurses. I know we had them 25 years ago when I was in high school because I distinctly remember going to get Midol from her. But no, none in Ontario anymore.

I had been told that there was a public health nurse in checking for head lice last week by another parent and when I called the school the secretary said no, the public health nurse doesn't even come in for things like that.

Your advice was really great and much appreciated.

What I particularly liked and what I may find helpful is dealing with the principal rather than the teacher (since I don't have the school nurse option).

My previous experience had been that I worked really well with Jesse's teacher and NOT the principal (the exact opposite of now) for JK/SK so I tended not to approach the principal with anything. Last year, both principal and teacher seemed to be on the same page as me. And now, I have the completely reverse situation.

I know, just for me, that I'll be sure not to send coconut products into the classroom only because it's like what a lot of parents say to me, should Jesse have a reaction, they want to know that at least they didn't send in the peanut product that caused it. I feel the same way about the coconut even if the child's Mother doesn't.

Many thanks and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Nov 18, 2002

Hi Cindy,

Not sure if I can help here - I went through the whole thread (and have been thru some of the others) but bear with me if I miss stuff.

Coconut is not a tree net (it is a seed) per my allergist. DD had a very low rast test reading to coconut so she had not had "pure" cocunut, but has had many things in which coconut oil is included. Lots of the gummy snacks, even some sports drinks have coconut oil, so I am thankful we don't have to avoid that.

So maybe the mom has had the same sort of advice from her allergist that I did regarding coconut - ie, the child is "allergic" but it is more of a sensitivity then an anaphlaxisis risk. As I understood it that is because the protein is not as strong as it would be in (for example) a peanut. And coconut snacks for kids are rare - nasty hairy stuff.

But Blah blah blah from me. We can't get inside her head. I have had a new experience this year with having another PA child in the class and swinging from "isn't it nice everyone is thinking/doing whatever" to "what are they thinking allowing whatever". You have seen how some quarrel on these boards regarding comfort level - and it is different when you are there live. I have decided to mind my own business and when I am in charge of the child (class parties, play dates etc...) things happen by my rules.

On Nov 18, 2002

Very good point about the coconut. My first thought was - I definitely wouldn't send it in. However, if I knew the parent I would ask specific questions before considering sending it in.

My youngest son is in a peanut-free school. He is not allergic (he can't eat it at home because of me - boo hoo). As far as I understand, they do not allow PEANUTS/NUTS in the entire school - including on "special" days i.e. bake sales, halloween parties, etc. They have never mentioned "may contain".

Now, I am assuming your son has been instructed not to eat anything without your OK. If you are now comfortable with "may contain" products in his class that makes sense - he's older, and understands more. You can't expect that one day - BAM - he takes over his own care. It has to start slow. So, maybe he - and you - are ready for others to bring "may contain" in to the class.

Has he reacted to touch/smell? If not there may eventually come a day when you are comfortable with actual peanuts in his class. And if that day comes, take the time to make sure you are sure, then let the school know you feel it is no longer necessary to have a peanut free room. (I wouldn't actually send a letter home saying send peanuts - just stop asking that they not be sent.)

Now about high school! I'm not sure where you got info about peanut-free classes in high school. I guess the classroom maybe. But since everyone eats in the same cafeteria it would have to be a peanut free school. One of my kids just graduated a few years ago, and another is in high school now. Sorry, but, honestly, I don't think peanut free is doable. They can't keep the drugs out. They can't keep weapons out. I don't see a teacher feeling a peanut is a priority.

Last point - regarding the teaching sticking the "don't send peanut products" in the middle of her rantings. Since it's the whole school that is peanut free the monthly newsletter always has a reminder - it is written as a separate paragraph and mentions that "one or more children has a life-threatening allergy to peanuts/nuts"

My son's teacher sends stuff home every week, and it used to include the information that it is a peanut free school and no peanuts/nuts are allowed. She has stopped including that - I think because whoever was sending it in finally got the message and stopped. Actually, my son told me that sometimes she didn't let kids eat their snacks. Sometimes because it was sweets (not allowed) but sometimes it was a sandwich (PB?). I don't think the pa child is in my son's class, but if it's a peanut free school I'm glad his teacher stands her ground.

OK, lots of rambling, but not much help. Soooooo, I'll just say, good luck and I truly hope all works out well - soon.

On Nov 18, 2002

Hi Cindy:

I have posted on other threads that I have not requested a peanut free room for my child this year (6 years old and in kindergarten), so I won't rehash my reasoning. As I have said before, I was very conflicted about my decision, so I certainly understand the viewpoint of wanting a peanut free room.

However, if you truly did want to move away from the peanut free room, I think you could simply explain that you are more comfortable with Jesse taking more control and/or responsiblity as he grows older. Children are much messier in the early grades so it is reasonable that you would want to have more protection for your son when he is younger. I think most parents would understand. (Similarly, the kindergarteners in our school are not "released" from school until the teacher sees a parent...however the older children are let our the front door to find their parents...same type of reasoning).

Don't know if this helps at all. I think this is something we all struggle with.

Kelly

On Nov 18, 2002

Hi Cindy~

What does your gut say? I figure your child still gets practice with the "real world" whenever he goes anywhere other than home or school (as if home and school are not the real world....?ha). So, in my opinion, I say...if you got it....let it ride! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

I don't know if you agree, but sometimes I too doubt maybe something I am doing and I begin to think.....hhmmmmm? You know something? I only begin to doubt things when other people (people who don't understand this and are ignorant...or some, just down right stupid or mean)voice their objections. I try to find my center and get to the "gut" of it. I ask myself the hard questions....and 9 out of 10 times I feel I made the right decision. I just have to remind myself not to buy into what I hear if I really do believe I am doing the right thing for my child. There have always been moments of self-doubt for anyone who has ever stood up for anything. It is afterall...a tiring and sometimes lonely affair.

Get to your gut...you know.

Best~ K

ps...hope this makes some sense...I am very tired but just wanted to extend my support!

On Nov 19, 2002

k, right on! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] I have been examining this since I posted the thread starter last night really closely in my head. Bottom line for me is that I know I can ensure Jesse's (relative) safety by asking for a "peanut free" classroom until he is in Grade 8. The way I feel to-day, that's what I'm going to be doing.

I do have to get the information from his principal re high school and then I believe there must be something in place that would ensure a peanut free table.

The "may contains" are more up in the air for me (and my gut) right now. I'm not going to change his school plan this year but I will look at it closely for when he enters Grade 3 next September. I *may* be able to remove that part of the school plan.

I understand why I'm questioning what we have in place for Jesse. It's because I've come across an extremely reluctant teacher and I also have another parent in the classroom who has a totally different comfort zone re her child's food allergies than I can ever imagine having.

If I didn't have the reluctant teacher or the parent with the different comfort zone, I would not have questioned Jesse's school plan at all. Seriously.

That's why your post was just so right on. It truly was. The other thing about your gut - with PA (and I guess a lot of other things in life), I have always simply trusted my gut instinct. Gut instinct knew that Jesse was having a food reaction of some sort at the age of 18 months, even though I really knew nothing about food allergies and there are none in our respective families. I just knew. So, yes, thank-you.

I believe since we do have the right to ensure his safety by requesting a peanut free classroom at least up until Grade 8 that that's what I should do for him. I won't be able to ensure his safety as well in high school and certainly not after he leaves my home. But I can up until Grade 8, as far as his school setting. We have that basic right so why wouldn't I take advantage of it when I have consistently now for four years? It would be different if I had never had a school plan in place for Jesse. And again, the only thing that I would really question for his school plan next year are the "may contains" but that's after I do a bit more research.

Many thanks and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Nov 19, 2002

The Mother of the child with the coconut allergy did speak with me this morning after I finished the breakfast club thing. Her son is not anaphylactic to coconut. I told her how Jesse, upon learning that the child was allergic to coconut, didn't eat any more of the donut things, washed his hands and washed his desk. This would be how Jesse would understand to deal with a food allergy and I actually think it's excellent and extremely compassionate. I now have to explain to him that there are some food allergies that are not life threatening.

The same child, however, is anaphylactic to tree nuts and the Mother quite obviously has an extremely different comfort zone than I do. That's okay. I have no right to question or comment on another person's comfort zone.

I e-mailed the teacher telling her that the Mom had spoken with me and also why I understood why Jesse was as concerned as he was. I also outlined why, for us, no may contains are allowed in the classroom (that 1 in 5 chance). I expressed my understanding for how difficult I realize it is for other parents to deal with this, etc.

I just finished reading another thread under Schools about non-peanut-free classrooms and I have to say that I feel my restrictions that I place on the school make me seem like Psycho Mom from Hell. There are no dissenting comments allowed in the other thread - it is a very positive thread about people who are having good experiences with non-peanut-free classrooms. However, again, I came away with the feeling, after reading it, that I was Psycho Mom from Hell.

I believe that I am teaching my son how to navigate through the world, but navigate as safely as possible with his life threatening allergy. I'm not able to ask for peanut free situations when he's older and not with me, or out of elementary school (have to get the news re high school yet) so why, for now, wouldn't I make sure that I can ensure his safety while I'm able to.

Do I feel saddened that perhaps people see PA stamped across his forehead instead of seeing the wonderful, outgoing little guy I have? Yes. Do I feel angry or sad when he is bullied about his allergy? Yes, I do. But then, I also felt sad when he was bullied last year about having long hair, necessitating a hair cut.

Bottom line for me is that my child almost died 4 years ago by merely touching a pb product to his lip. If I can have him in a classroom whereby there will NOT be a child sitting beside him eating pb, then I will.

Do I teach him the basics about keeping himself safe? Darn straight I do. That is particularly reinforced when I see to what extent he went to when he found out another child in his class was allergic to coconut (without understanding that it wasn't life threatening).

I understand that this is a comfort zone thing. I understand that it is a contentious issue. However, for me, the analogy would be, would I let Jesse sit beside another child with a loaded gun in school? No. And simply a loaded gun isn't as lethal as a peanut product. The other child would have to fire the gun.

k was absolutely correct. My gut tells me what is right and somehow if my gut makes me look like Psycho Mom from Hell, making the school jump through hoops, so be it. I know that my son's safety is relatively ensured when I am not there to ensure it.

For me, I have almost lost my beautiful son because of his allergy. I'll do everything in my power, for as long as I have it, to ensure he is safe. I'll also do everything in my power to continue to educate myself, question my comfort zone and welcome the opinions of others.

Why did I feel the need to explain my position? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Nov 19, 2002

Cindy, from one psycho to another...you go girl! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img]

I wanted to remind you that as far as "may contain" products are concerned, there is a 1 in 5 chance that the product contains peanuts. The advice I received from our allergist was to treat "may contains" as though they do contain, to do otherwise is like playing Russian Roulette especially given how severe Jesse's reaction was to simply having a peanut containing product touch his lips.

Just my two cents worth.

Katiee

On Nov 19, 2002

I too, cindy think that I am a rather obsessed creature when it comes to williams allergies. Not something I am proud of , but sadly needed in this world. We are driven to such lengths, (in my opinion) by the very fact that to ensure that people take notice , and take the precautions needed to protect our children we HAVE to become the pain in the backside type of mother. Watch how the poor teachers tense when we enter the room!!!( ha ha ha!!) IF, we didnt need to do this , if , we didnt need to fight for the simplest things, we wouldnt feel guilty about the allergy 'label'. If every teacher/ child career /doctor , knew about anaphylaxis . How to adapt a classroom to avoid cross contamination, how to cater for lessons such as cookery with an allergic child in mind. Life would be easier. Having a child minder with simple knowledge about allergy. Have a doctor recognise the need for a referal to a allergist ,(with out us begging!! ) life would be better for our whole familys. just knowing how to spot the signs and symptoms and use an epi-pen is wonderful, but prevention is part of the care of a allergic child. One day there will be so many children with allergies that it will be unthinkable for any teacher to offer a child any food with out checking first to see that it is safe for everybody in the room. !!!! bye from one nutty bonkers round the twist mother. sarah

On Nov 19, 2002

katiee and williamsmummy, thank-you [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] Now I don't feel like Psycho Mom from Hell (or at least not about PA [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img] ) I spoke with my best friend to-day whose son is PA/TNA and she has written me an e-mail with her opinion (she is a PA.com member but has little time to post) and she wrote me really clear reasoning as to why a peanut free classroom, without may contains is essential for her child and also for mine. I've asked her permission to post it in this thread and will if I get it.

Who knows what repeated exposures to peanut products in a classroom setting, whether they be blatant peanut products or may contain products actually does to your PA child? Does it sensitize them further so that you are possibly ensuring that their next reaction will be anaphylactic? Or, could a child that is not airborne sensitive become airborne sensitive due to repeated exposures? Does it affect their behaviour? Does it affect their asthma (if they have it)?

And yes, Katiee, the "may contain" stats - they're exactly what I e-mailed Jesse's teacher this morning because she clearly doesn't understand why I happen to be so adamant about no may contains in the classroom.

I feel Jesse is at risk enough at school. It is not a peanut free school. He does have to navigate, even in Grade 2 (and in Grade 1 and lower) around the school to go to gym, the library, computer room, etc. This year, I've added karate (extracurricular) to that list. So why take the chance with his classroom when I don't have to?

It's almost the third month of school ending here and yet there isn't one day that I make sure I am not on the phone or computer at both recess and lunch times just in case I get *that* call.

I'd really like to thank you both. You made me feel a lot better, which was much needed. I guess I would rather put my child at risk for bullying and possible threats even than put his life at risk. Not great things to choose between but basically, what is more important?

Many thanks and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

[This message has been edited by Cindy Spowart Cook (edited November 19, 2002).]

On Nov 24, 2002

Hi Cindy,

There is nothing wrong with requesting a peanut-free classroom for Jesse. It is the only way to keep him safe. Children are unpredictable, and you wouldn't want him to accidentally take a bite of someone else's product that could contain peanuts. Even if the teacher is reluctant, you should still push ahead with it.

For the "may contain" items, it is not as easy. Some "may contain" items are more risky (ie: Lindt chocolate) as they often contain traces of peanut protein. But then there are other "may contain" items such as a "Mars bar". I ate them my entire life, even though they have said "manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts" on the label for the past several years. I wouldn't eat a Twix bar (since they make a peanut butter Twix)... I don't eat Mars bars anymore, but considering I ate hundreds of them during my lifetime with no problem I would consider them quite safe, but since I do not know for sure I don't eat them anyway (no point, as there is the great Rowntree/Nestle line of chocolate).

But whether to ban "may contains" from a classroom? It depends on each person's comfort zone.

As for a high school, by that age Jesse would be old enough that I do not think there is too much you could do. At lunch time, he would sit with his friends who would know about his allergy and keep peanut products away from him.

When I was in high school, there was no such thing as a nut free anything. At lunch everyday I would sit with my friends, usually at different tables depending on what time we arrived. By that age he would be old enough to be able to safely avoid peanuts, as that is what I did in my high school.

Of course, the area you could have a good effect on is things such as:

cafeteria food - try to ensure if it nut-free/safe so Jesse can order lunch safely if he doesn't bring it from home everyday

classroom events - if there is a Christams party, etc, try to ensure that peanut-free products are used - ie: don't have people baking peanut butter cookies, etc

As for a peanut free table in a high school cafeteria, I don't think that would be necessary (plus it would be too hard to enforce as there is not much supervision in high school cafeterias compared to younger kids) as Jesse would be old enough to handle it by sitting with his friends. Plus as a high school student, he would be out with his friends in other places without you (ie: shopping centre food court for lunch, sporting events, etc) and it is good to give him the preparation for being out there on his own with friends.

A peanut -free tabel at high school also would suffer from the problem where most kids dump the lunch from home, and walk over to McDonald's anyway!!! hahaha [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Sorry this posting may not make a lot of sense, but if you need more clarity let me know. Thanks [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Nov 25, 2002

erik, thank-you for your comments. I really appreciated your post. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] I do know that I feel okay about my position and yet, after reading your post, I now have this question (and did anyway). If I have a "peanut free" classroom for Jesse until he finishes Grade 8, which would also not allow any "may contains" (I like how you said it was a comfort zone thing - it definitely is), how am I preparing him to enter the *real* peanut full world when he enters high school? That's my whole dilemma - how am I really preparing him to navigate through a peanut full world?

On the other hand, I can ensure his relative safety until the age of 14, so why wouldn't I? After that, I can't ensure that he will be safe at school from a great number of things, including PA. So, why not continue to ensure his safety for as long as I can?

I was glad to see this thread re-raised to-day because I was going to come in here and post anyway since my head was ready to explode after Jesse's teacher's comment this morning to me.

After numerous written communications with the woman about what was not "safe" for a peanut free classroom that does not allow "may contains", I still had the problem last week. I had two children in my breakfast program go directly into Jesse's class with "may contain" products but I didn't feel it was my *right* to say anything to the children. I e-mailed the teacher instead. She just doesn't seem to "get it" or want to "get it". Personally, I think she should retire, even though she's about my age.

At any rate, since I'm not getting a good response from her, I e-mailed the principal with my concerns and she assigned an E.A. to the classroom to check the food each morning. This is what has always been done in Jesse's previous classes.

Friday I had a meeting with Jesse's teacher re his report card (every parent had meetings) and she asked me if I would help the E.A. go through the food. I'm not comfortable doing this at all but I thought if I'm simply helping the E.A. figure out how to read labels or detect unsafe unlabeled individual packs, okay.

This morning I go there after the breakfast program (where I had to remove unsafe cereal that had been donated) and the teacher is having all of the children put their food on a trolley that is to be taken out into the hall by the E.A. and checked. She's explaining this new routine to them and the E.A. is going around putting everyone's names on their lunch boxes.

Since they all had their lunch boxes sitting on their desks and I thought it was kinda strange that the E.A. had to marker everyone's names on their lunch bags, I asked the teacher if we couldn't just check the food at the desks. "That would be too disruptive". "It's too disruptive". I heard the word disruptive at least two times, probably three.

So, we get all the lunch bags out into the hall and I feel like the Food Nazi (or Psycho Mom from He** again). We go through the lunches and there were quite a few with unsafe items in it.

I asked the E.A. what had been done previously in the classroom (i.e., for the last bloody three months) and she said that she thought the teacher had simply been checking.

If the teacher had been checking, why were there so many unsafe products in the lunches to-day? After three months, wouldn't children (their parents really) know that certain items weren't okay?

I just don't get it. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/mad.gif[/img] So, then the E.A. goes to the Grade 1 class that is also peanut free and offers to check their snacks/lunches too while I'm there to go through them with her. Well, the Grade 1 class has a routine in place (they check at snack time) and the Grade 1 class also allows "may contain" items. Have me try and explain that to the E.A. (I tried to stop her before she went to the Grade 1 class saying that the other PA parent may not have the same requirements I do).

At any rate, again, I rifled through children's lunch boxes and felt like I was invading their privacy. I'm supposed to do it all week after the breakfast program just to help the E.A. get used to this new task. But again, what has been happening for the last bloody three months? Why weren't the children all asked to place their lunch boxes in a specific place (i.e., a table) for the last three months as part of their morning routine? Why are they just being asked now?

So now, I've "disrupted" the class even further by adding a new routine to the list. I am just furious with the teacher. From what I saw that was unsafe this morning, all of the items were yes, "may contain", but my point again would be, if it has been clear since the beginning that no "may contain" items were allowed in the classroom, why were there so many appearing in a lunch to-day? Were parents dazed and confused because it was a Monday or were they simply never notified properly that this wasn't allowed?

I'm angry. I'm also downright bloody tired. I'm tired of fighting with people. I'm tired of banging my head against a brick wall. For the first two years Jesse was in school, it was banging my head with the principal. Last year seemed to go well. Then, we had the summer camp that couldn't take Jesse because of his allergy. And now this. I'm tired. Thanks for listening.

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Nov 25, 2002

Cindy,

Hi! Sorry I have been out of touch for so long! So much of your story sounds like our story of last year with the teacher from he**!

I too was always seeming to get blamed for adding new restrictions to the classroom. However in actuality it was holding the teacher accountable for what should have always been done.

I find some teachers view us as trying to control their classroom and not as trying to save our childs life. I would love to drop off my child and not think twice about food, soap, reactions....but that is not our life and we have to do what our gut tells us is the right thing to do for our child. Medical data, doctor's notes, and common sense dictate my daughter's school plan. Everything in her plan is 100% necessary for her. I think it is great that some kids don't need the accomadations Rachel does but they are not her. I explain to people that a food allergy is an individual thing not all people have it to the same degree or react in the same way. I continually say I can only speak on behalf of Rachel's situation.

As Jesse grows older, he will mature and be able to manage his allergy more and more on his own. As this happens, you two can make decisions together about what is in his best MEDICAL interest. I stress medical because sometimes medical decisions must be made that may not be the best "socially correct" decision.

A phrase that bugs me to no end is teaching our kids to live in the real world. This comment is usually made with reference to peanut free classrooms, parties.... well guess what! For Rachel the real world will always be a peanut/nut free world. The real world for her will always be removing herself from an area where nuts/peanuts are present.Her real world will be always carrying an epi pen and always reading labels. Her real world is different than others.

I will have a nut/peanut free classroom for Rachel as long as she is in school. She needs to have a safe zone. She needs to be able to focus on her education and not worry about the snack next to her.

I am blessed with a truly wonderful teacher for Rachel this year. My school principal is without a doubt as protective and concerned for Rachel's safety as I am.

Don't ever question your decisions because of someone elses comments or comfort zone-You know what is best for Jesse. Stay confident in your beliefs and expressing your opinions and thoughts.

A quote from your post: Since they all had their lunch boxes sitting on their desks and I thought it was kinda strange that the E.A. had to marker everyone's names on their lunch bags, I asked the teacher if we couldn't just check the food at the desks. "That would be too disruptive". "It's too disruptive". I heard the word disruptive at least two times, probably three.

Rachel's teacher last year develop this wack-o plan for handing out treats from her treat jar.According to the teacher, Removing peanut/nut containing candy was not fair to the other kids. I was disrupting her classroom by insisting on this change. Well her plan was she kept her candy jar in another teachers classroom ,lined up the kids who got to pick candy two minutes early, walked them over to this other classroom, let them pick candy, put it in their backpack and then make two seperate lines to walk them out for dismissial! But yet I was the one disrupting the class! People will view a situation from their own perspective and we have to learn to deal with it.

Just know for this year, you have to stick to your guns and stay on top of things, keep e-mailing the teacher and the principal. Just be grateful you have a good principal because you only deal with the teacher for one year but the principal will be your ally for the rest of Jesse's days at that school.

Take care,

Linda

On Nov 25, 2002

Cindy,

Please don't get upset over what I'm about to say - you know me.

If Jesse has been fine even though the unsafe things have been around, then do they really need to be removed? I know that the rules are very clear, but... if the rules have been bent or broken and he has still been OK, then... I might consider revamping the rules.

Don't hate me!

On Nov 25, 2002

Cindy...I am with you 100%!!!!!

My dd's Kindergarten teacher was totally uncooperative. The school made the decision to ask parents not to send in any nut products (including "may contains") but the TEACHER brought in nuts or unsafe foods several times!!! When brought to her attention, she said she didn't realize that dd couldn't even be AROUND nuts, yet she continued to bring them in. My dd is fatally allergic to tree nuts, but the teacher actually brought in a big basket of tree nuts last fall for the kids to sort! In the spring, when I THOUGHT she "got" it, she still brought in cookies containing tree nuts and served them to all the other kids. No washing of hands or tables afterwards! I lived in fear every day.

This year we are homeschooling & I cannot tell you the difference this has made in our lives.

I know what you mean about being tired - that is how I felt much of last year - just worn down. But I kept telling myself that preventing that ONE reaction made it all worth it. I know that is how you feel too. It doesn't have to be so hard - I hear so many stories about great schools and teachers and principals who handle it beautifully. And I was a public school teacher for over 20 years, so I have seen it work. But if you're unfortunate enough to get the other end of things, it can make a VERY long year.

Just keep at it & know that you are protecting Jesse the way only YOU can. And if you are the "Psycho Mom" at least know that you are not alone.

Best wishes, Carrie

On Nov 25, 2002

Hi Lam,

I understand what you are saying. Jesse is a responsible and wise child who knows not to eat anything in class unless it has been given to him by his mother. So the "may contain" items are a low risk as Jesse is a smart kid and he won't eat anything he is unsure about.

A peanut product (ie: Snickers, Oh Henry, Reese peanut butter cup, etc) would be a major risk due to "airborne" reactions (as I experience) and contact reactions (on desks, doorknobs, etc) however.

Anyway, I am sure Cindy won't be mad at you. She enjoys hearing numerous viewpoints and that is the great thing about this site that everyone can say their viewpoints and listen to everyone else.

In the end, it is up to each of us to decide the level of risk to take according to each of our comfort zones.

Personally, if I had a child I would want a peanut free classroom.... as for "may contains" I really do not know...

It is hard to say...... since I don't have a child...

On Nov 26, 2002

Hi, erik!

Thanks for your message. I hope you're right.

My son has a P/TN free room, but may contains are allowed for the other students. The only food in the room is for snack - he's in K - and the teacher makes certain there are no obvious unsafe foods. If it's something my son can eat, he does; if not, I send something for him. My comfort zone.

I started out with the thought "safest is best" then changed my mind. It's not necessary - in my child's case - to request the "absolute safest way", so we don't. He is contact reactive, so if anyone in K has obvious peanut products for lunch, they wipe their hands after lunch/before they go outside for recess. If he wasn't contact reactive, we wouldn't ask for that to be done either. He's not airborne reactive, so far, but if he becomes airborne reactive our requests would change to reflect that. The school agrees with that and understands. We have had just the best school experience so far - I wish it were that easy for everyone here. Sadly, I know it's not.

The one thing that I'm concerned about with Cindy is how many confrontations she has, how stressed she is all the time. (I don't mean to talk like you're not here, Cindy! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img] ) I can't help but think you (Cindy) would be less stressed if you could lighten the restrictions a bit. If it's absolutely necessary, then it's necessary, of course!! But, if not, why not make things a bit lighter for everyone.

JM thoughts. (Hope I didn't "do myself in" even more!!!)

P.S. Cindy, I just re-read your initial post here. As for how the parents would react to may contains being allowed next year... if they absolutely MUST have a reason, I'd say it's because my child is getting older and is better able to take on more responsibility re: his allergy. My guess is they'd understand and respect that.

[This message has been edited by Lam (edited November 26, 2002).]

On Nov 26, 2002

Thank-you everyone, for your comments and thoughts. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] No, Lam, I'm not mad at you. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

I have just finished leaving the school again to-day after the breakfast club thing and checking the lunches. It became extremely clear this morning to me that the lunches haven't been checked for "may contains" for the past three months. They couldn't have been. The number of food items that I did not allow into the class were unreal. Yesterday, the E.A. substituted all of the unsafe snacks with yoghurt from the breakfast program (it can also be a snack program).

Lam, I understand what you were saying. If Jesse has been in the class for three months with obvious may contain products, then why not let it be?

Again, a comfort zone thing, but my stance is two-fold. First of all, I am extremely angry [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/mad.gif[/img] that Jesse's school plan was not followed to the absolute letter. It's a pretty easy thing to do since we've been doing it for three years previous to this. Why did this particular teacher decide that she wasn't going to "get it" and not follow a written school plan? I think, for me, that's even more disturbing than the fact that the may contains have actually been in the classroom. Does that make sense?

As far as my stance on "may contains". Again, definitely a comfort zone thing. However, if I won't allow "may contain" products in my home (except for the jar of black pepper I just found) and I won't even eat "may contain" products myself and I'm not PA because of the Russian Roulette factor, why would I allow them in his classroom? I don't allow them in my home when I'm here to supervise and make sure that he is safe. I need, for me right now, to feel as though Jesse is *almost* as safe at school as he is at home. So that's why I don't want the "may contains" in the classroom.

I do have an e-mail to post from my best friend and a PA.com member that makes perfect sense to me as to why you wouldn't allow "may contain" products into the classroom. And I did raise several questions about how they actually might affect your PA child in the classroom - it's that 1 in 5 thing that really I can't let go of.

When I take Jesse to school, I know that he will be navigating through the school to different classrooms where I don't have any control whatsoever as the school is not peanut free, reduce the risk, or anything else. He has to go to the library, gym, computer room (he has the same keyboard each time), now the resource room with me for the breakfast program, and who knows where else where he could come into contact with peanut products (the playground, etc.).

So, for me, I need to ensure his safety as best I can in the only place that I have the *right* to - his classroom.

Lam, I totally understand what you mean about lessening restrictions to lessen stress. It makes sense. But the source of my stress(es) isn't really PA. Certainly last night, when I went to bed, I was going to post another question asking if anyone else was tired, but when I look at the other stresses in my life, it's not PA that sends me over the top. It's a combination of a lot of other things. It's just that when you add PA on top of those other things, then you begin to feel really weighed down (answer is to get rid of the other stressors that may or may not be controllable, not an easy thing to do [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] ).

I appreciate the discussion that has gone on in this thread because I really believe it will help other PA parents make decisions for themselves and their children. Some people may be able to allow may contain products into a peanut free classroom and think, well at least they didn't have to experience the he** that I did. And others may still remain, as I now like to be known, Food Nazis. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img]

Thank-you everyone for your concern, comments and caring. I'm now taking to my bed for the day (seriously).

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Nov 26, 2002

rilira, thank-you! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] I think your clarification of the *real* world, for those of us with PA children was wonderful. I have been going by MKRuby's Mission Statement (not that I have been living it or adhering to it), but raising questions from it. One of them is about your child in the *real* world. But you're absolutely correct. Our *real* world is the *real* world.

It's not like one day Jesse will be able to sit in a peanut filled bar (I actually hope, given family history on both sides he avoids bars totally anyway [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] ) and enjoy. That just isn't part of our *reality* and our *real* world is I think only a bit different than other people's. Really. I haven't found too many limitations on our lives yet because of PA.

Okay, he wasn't able to attend the summer day camp this year because they had never dealt with a PA child before. But there are many summer day camps that do accommodate food allergic children now (YMCA, etc.). Your daughter, Rachel, is able to go to Girl Scout's.

What are we really NOT doing in the *real* world - avoiding peanuts and nut products and although yes, there are plenty of them and they do seem to be everywhere, I think we all lead pretty damned normal lives (well, I wouldn't necessarily call mine normal, but that's something totally different) otherwise.

So, yes, thank-you. I needed to hear that and if it meant that you didn't get to walk on the sunny beach in California yesterday for you to get that wisdom of yours across to me, I'm sorry, but it was worth it. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img] That's the thing I do miss about you posting (but still think you should be on the sunny beach) - your wisdom and clarity.

We are navigating in the *real* world. Ours is just slightly different than other people's. Thank-you, rilira. Again, I really really needed to hear that. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Nov 26, 2002

Here is my best friend's e-mail re her position "may contain" products in her PA/TNA child's classroom. She did give me her permission to post it in this thread but since she wasn't able to post it herself (time constraints), I am going to take out the name of her child. I thought her reasoning for why made sense to me.

Here goes:-

My child will always have a peanut/nut-free room even if he wasn't airborne sensitive. Breathe in the proteins enough times and presto, airborne reaction as far as I'm concerned.

I will never allow "may contains" either for the same reasons. Too close for comfort and too many what ifs...

My child will have a 504 throughout his school years. The purpose of the 504 is to protect his individual needs so I can write into it whatever I want. If the school wants to fight part of it they may, but the chances of them winning are pretty slim. I'm lucky enough to have a very accommodating school. NOW.

And that's that. Many thanks to her for adding her thoughts to this discussion. I called her last week when I felt like Psycho Mom from He** (re PA [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img] )

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Nov 26, 2002

Hi Cindy,

I think that you should continue to push for the peanut free classroom and continue to ban "may contains".

The teacher has been lazy and ignored your requests for no "may contains". If you were to give in now, the teacher will assume that she can continue to act this way in the future as the parents will give in. IN a future year, if another PA child is in her class, once again she would not make any effort as she would assume that eventually the parent will give up. By you not giving up, she will realize her strategy is not working, as the principal must not be pleased to hear that the teacher has been allowing all this unsafe product into the classroom.

Since it appears the teacher has not been checking lunches for "may contain items" as had been requested by you, it appears that you can no longer trust her to be diligent in prodiving a peanut free environment so this is not the time to let down your guard. If the teacher was responsible and took the allergy seriously you could consider allowing "may contain" items, but from what I have heard so far that would be a mistake in this situation.

Since she does not take it seriously, it leaves it to you and the principal to keep it a safe environment.

Anyway, I may not have mentioned it but I am sorry to hear you are having such difficulties these days and I hope that things improve as we approach the holiday season.

[This message has been edited by erik (edited November 26, 2002).]

On Nov 26, 2002

erik, thank-you for your well expressed response [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] It was really appreciated. I think what I'm finding particularly difficult is that I have usually dealt with Jesse's teacher re his PA (except dealing with the principal at the beginning of the school year with the written school plan) and left the principal to deal with what I consider more important things (i.e., running the whole school).

I've always found that Jesse has had excellent teachers that have dealt with his allergy well. For JK/SK, he had a young teacher who was, quite frankly, scared to death to have Jesse in her classroom. Yet, I trusted her implicitly. I didn't even have a written school plan for Jesse and sent him off on school trips with her without ever thinking that he wouldn't be safe. The only field trip I went on in those years was when they went to the zoo and I kinda felt I *should* go.

In Grade 1, in the previous town, he only had the teacher for two months and I'm not clear how she would have handled the allergy for the whole year. However, what she did do, was have the children help to read their ingredient labels which I felt was quite empowering to the children (and also helped their reading skills).

In Grade 1 here, he again had another young teacher, again scared to death of having him in her class, but she dealt with the allergy beautifully. There was a table at the front of the classroom where lunches were immediately put in the morning and checked by an E.A. "May contain" items were not allowed in the classroom.

By this time, we did have a school plan in place for Jesse (thanks to Peanut Trace [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] ) and I believe this helped the teacher and the school deal with the allergy as again, Jesse was the only PA child in the school.

I'm a fine one to suggest age-ism, given my own age, but I really feel that the two teachers I dealt with successfully dealt with the allergy (and probably a lot of other things re school and Jesse) well because they were young. What's young? Under 30 certainly.

His current teacher, is, as I say, probably about my age or a little older. She did, in fact, teach the Mother of one of her current students. My birth-sister, upon learning that Jesse had this teacher said "she's absolutely wonderful, it's going to be great, my daughter had her for two years". Her daughter is a very creative child but also tends to find it hard to focus on what she's not interested in. And, her daughter had her 7 years ago for the two years. I think she's changed in the last 7 years and I haven't had the opportunity to speak with my birth-sister about who she considered this "wonderful" teacher.

I think she's used to running a classroom her way and quite frankly, from the list of names she has on the board every day for misbehaviour (my son's included, not to-day [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] ), I don't think the way she does things is effective. When I spoke with her at the beginning of the year, she really sounded as though she had been *burdened* with several behavioural problem children that should have passed into Grade 3 but were kept back.

Give a burdened, over-worked teacher, who is also in a political situation right now (the Work-to-Rule thing) and add PA into the mix, and I think you have the same thing as you have with me. Give me all the other stressors I deal with in my life and it may be one little thing about PA that sends me over the edge. Do you know what I mean?

She doesn't want to "get it" and I will only know next year, when I deal with yet another teacher (and decipher her age) if it is an age-related thing or not. But I have to say that the young teachers, scared to death, educated themselves really well, were really adamant on their positions as well as mine about no "may contains" in the classroom and I honestly didn't worry about Jesse's safety while in their care (see Duty of Care).

So, yes, I have to work with the principal and thank heaven she is working well with me. It's just that I would prefer to work with the teacher and let the principal do more important things (like find me volunteers for the breakfast program [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img] ). However, I guess you do whatever you have to do to maintain what the school plan has in it.

No, I wouldn't start to allow "may contains" at this point simply because it's quite obvious that they have been allowed all the way along anyway. It has always been understood (or so I thought [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/mad.gif[/img] ) that should any questionable item be brought into the school, I was to be called, and I would check on it.

I don't mind ticking the teacher off by having her have to deal with irrate parents now. However, I am concerned about a serious backlash from parents who have been sending these products into the classroom for THREE MONTHS and can't now. Can you simply tell them that the teacher messed up? I don't think so. I am waiting for repercussions and not clear what's going to happen.

I have to go now and find an on-line dictionary so that my dear son can look up the word "stupid" and find out why you don't call someone's Father that. I am aghast!

Many thanks and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Nov 26, 2002

Cindy, I'm sorry to hear that you are having so much trouble with your son's school [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]

I can really relate to your teacher troubles. PA or no, we all run into teachers that don't make a good match for our kids. I did find your point about the age thing interesting though. This is my belief...

Younger teachers are less set in their ways and more willing to learn and CHANGE in order to accomodate students or parents. Teachers who have been around for a long time are often very good, experienced teachers, but they are set in their ways, and are unwilling to change. Some even have no more patience left and are just killing time before they retire. Many years experience does not neccessarily make a good teacher. I'm 31-and been an EA for 10 years...and if I get to that point I hope I have enough sense to find a different profession.

On Nov 26, 2002

Karen H., thank-you for your response. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] My daughter has an older teacher as well for SK (she would be my age I guess, I'm not good at ages, but around the same age as Jesse's teacher). For her, I really think she fits into the good, experienced, teacher category you outlined. And for Jesse's, I really feel she does fit into the category of the no patience left, had enough of this, want to retire category. Seriously.

You said everything so well. I don't think I would be having the same difficulties having Jesse's PA *accommodated* (I didn't really use that word, just can't remember the correct one right now at this time of night) with Ember's teacher, who, as I say, would be around the same age as Jesse's.

I also think you're right on about the younger teachers. I have found and this might only be from the three experiences that I have had, that Jesse's two younger teachers dealt better with both his PA and his misbehaviour. His teacher last year was extremely creative (in my mind) in finding ways to help him focus on his work, etc. whereas his teacher this year can only think to remove his desk from the grouping of students.

Oh well. I should go and get to bed (even though everyone knows I took to my bed for some portion of to-day anyway [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img] ) and get up to face breakfast program and being the Food Nazi again tomorrow morning with the added stuff of all of Jesse's misbehaviour to-day. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] Just grand.

Many thanks and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Nov 27, 2002

Cindy,

Glad to hear we're OK! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Nov 27, 2002

Lam, of course we're okay. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] As erik said, I do appreciate different opinions about things. I can remember different threads that I've started where I've been really upset say about something that happened and members here have given me a totally different perspective on the situation and made me feel better.

I do appreciate what you said about the "may contains" and I believe I would take it into consideration if it didn't go against my two-fold stance outlined above.

Well, I did Food Nazi duty again this morning and came home feeling crappy again. To-day, there was a very angry letter from another parent about her child having to eat questionable cookies in the office yesterday with the ingredient label from the package. It was an item that I actually hadn't made the call on, the E.A. had. The E.A. is actually a lot more strict about things that we're unsure about.

Again, to-day, we're pulling out the safe unsafe products so again to-day quite obvious that the foods have never been checked. And I'm now running into an assortment of little food items that I've never even seen before, so can't identify quickly as safe or not - for example, this morning a child had some bread sticks. I don't know what kind, I don't know anything about bread sticks. The E.A. pulled them.

The teacher that had called Loblaw's came up and spoke with me and said that she had received a different answer from Loblaw's then I did. I told her my theory about 10 different people calling and all getting different answers. I then explained that you have to call Loblaw's with the actual product UPC code. She said she's not in a position to do that. I told her that the snacks she has are okay, just not okay for the Grade 2 class.

I think, for the first time to-day, I caught a glimpse of the Grade 3 teacher. A young-ish man (30-ish?), seems enthusiastic and friendly. Here's hoping that's who Jesse gets next year if we're able to stay at this school (I'm extremely angry about that as well [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/mad.gif[/img] ) this whole possible moving thing again.

I know that there is going to be some backlash from the parents, as evidenced this morning in the letter from the angry parent. I think it's the same parent that threatened to call the school board over the peanut free classroom so she must be in quite a tizzy. I feel badly for her. I really do. She told the teacher in the letter that if there were any questions about her child's food, that they are to contact her.

Actually, we've asked for it to be the other way around. If you have any questions about food that you're sending in, call me. However.

I have to go. Thanks for listening again to-day. I did tell the E.A. that I would only do this for the next two days, that she had a good grasp on it and I couldn't deal with it very well. I can't.

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Nov 27, 2002

Cindy - a quick question. I've been following this thread - and I may have missed it - but I'm wondering how you handle "home baked goods" - ie. when a child brings a homemade muffin in? A friend in BC who has a PA daughter was telling me that the entire school went Peanut-free this past September - and that at first they said "No Home-baking" because of the possibility of cross contamination. After a huge uproar from parents - they now allow home-made items in - but only when accompanied by a note stating that the item is nut-free. Is home-baking allowed in Jesse's classroom - how do you handle this? mae

On Nov 28, 2002

So, yesterday I don't post about my morning Food Nazi experience because why bother? It's the same as every morning this week. I feel terrible about it and I'm also upset because it's obvious it has never been done properly for the last three months. And there is backlash already.

Two women, who *normally* speak with me after school are now not saying anything other than "hi". Why? Because both of their children have had unsafe products sent home all this week. Just great.

I don't know many people in this town/city at all. Then, we move, and I get to know a few Moms on a regular basis and I know, what's the big whoop, you get to talk to them for a couple of minutes each day, but somehow it makes you feel better that you actually have someone to talk to at the school, especially when you see all of the other *comfortable* people in their cliques that you'll never be in (always the outsider [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] )

Then, I get a call from the principal last night. The E.A. assigned to the checking of the food has been removed from this assignment because it was *disrupting* the class - other students who needed help with Jolly Phonics work were not getting it because the E.A. was out checking food with me in the hall each morning.

I explained to the principal that it is quite clear that the food has never been checked properly (as per Jesse's school plan) and that I feared a backlash. She said that "tempers are flying at this time of year" so I'm not clear what she meant. I know people are upset with their children's report cards (I'm one of them) and other things. I heard a Mom of kids in Ember's and Jesse's class the other day saying she's pulling her kids out of the school because it's too f-ed up. That left Ember all day upset because the one child is her best friend. I told her not to worry about it, that the child's Mom was just upset and even if they did pull out, it probably wouldn't be 'til year-end and now with our rental house for sale who knows if we'll even be here?

Anyway. So, the E.A. gets pulled. However, the principal has called to let me know this but already has a solution, so that's great. Another parent, who I have spoken with this week really for the first time, has volunteered to take on the task of checking the food.

This morning, I helped the other parent and the E.A. so that the other parent can familiarize herself with what food is not okay.

She is extremely okay about this and I'm quite thankful. I don't want to have to be the parent rifling through lunches. This morning, we got some comment from an older student (say Grade 7 or 8), a girl, saying something about "oh, you're checking for peanuts". I just feel terrible. Her comment wasn't a simple one, the tone was more complex and I can't explain it.

Check the food, wheel the food trolley back in. I also explained to the principal that their way of doing this right now is too time consuming and crazy (didn't use that word). Explained that there should be a thing where the kids come in, put their lunch boxes on the trolley and then go about getting ready for their day.

The way it has been this week, they all finally get to their seats, have their lunch boxes with them, and the E.A. has been taking the lunch boxes from each desk (27 students) and putting them on the trolley. I explained to the principal that the other method worked well for 3 years and it *should* work in this classroom also - kids walk in the door, put their lunch boxes on the trolley, and get ready for their day. To me, it sounds a lot simpler and less mad than the method only being used since the beginning of this week anyway. So, she was going to look into that for me. It wasn't what was done this morning.

The E.A. mentioned this morning that perhaps a reminder note should be sent home with the students who had brought unsafe snacks in. Well, DUH. That is what is *supposed* to be done each time a child brings an unsafe snack in. I told her that I didn't think the parents were slipping up this week alone, I think they had never been told from the beginning that these products were unsafe. Otherwise, I wouldn't have at least 10, if not more children, with unsafe items in their lunches every day this week.

I did tell the E.A. that I had gotten groceries in to-day for the breakfast program and that she could sub unsafe snacks with my okay snacks.

This is all fine and dandy because yes, the breakfast program is also funded as a snack program, but why should my breakfast program have to lose all of it's yoghurt to-day (as it did Monday) because snacks had to be replaced in the Grade 2 class that shouldn't have had to be replaced?

I know parents pretty well I think. I think most of them are accommodating if you present the classroom in the right light to them and make it easy for them. To come in three months later and suddenly say, no this is not okay, well, it's not going to sit well with anyone.

And who's getting caught in the backlash? Me, already, I know. And Jesse had birthday party invitations go home this week and the two Moms that aren't speaking with me now, well, their two kids haven't responded yet. Will they not go now? Will it be taken out on Jesse as well?

How can I express my anger towards the teacher for putting us (Jesse and I) in this position? Deluge her with paperwork, like his school plan and the Duty of Care article? I really don't know. I already tore a strip off her re his report card and the mark he got on his reading.

Now, anyone reading this thinks I'm an absolute bi*ch. I'm not. I am so meek and quiet it's unreal. I'm 43 years old and would still be considered "shy". Do I feel like fighting with the teacher? No. I know that one other newer member had suggested that perhaps I do like to fight with teachers and don't treat them with respect when I'm speaking with them. Not the case. I have never had to fight with a teacher before to ensure Jesse's relative safety at school. Yes, I have had to fight with a principal and you know what? She finally got it and started running a "reduce the risk" school just in time as 4 or 5 more PA students entered her school. So the fight with that particular principal and all of the head banging was worth it.

This principal, I got the impression that it may be difficult to work with her, but it's not. She's the same age as me and has a child in Grade 6. She has to do the peanut free thing for another school where her children are.

This is the first year that I have had a teacher like this and it's very upsetting and stressful to me. I don't like it. I don't like fighting. I don't like being angry.

Thanks for listening and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Nov 28, 2002

mae, sorry, I forgot in my rant (probably just as well [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] ) to answer your question about home-baked goods.

There are seen very rarely in the lunches here apparently but here's my position on them and it must seem totally off the wall because I don't allow "may contain" items in the classroom. Items labeled "may contain" actually have a 1 in 5 chance of containing a peanut product, so to me, that's like playing Russian Roulette (note, I said, to me, and I recognize this as a comfort zone thing).

As the food monitor for the school, I am supposed to be called before any homebaked goods are sent into the classroom. However, am I? No. I have been called once in 4 years.

When there was a special party at Jesse's previous schools, I would go in before and okay or not okay any homebaked goods (we actually got relatively few homebaked goods for special parties even).

Strangely enough, I don't worry about a product that may have been baked on a cookie sheet at someone's home that they had previous made pb cookies on. If Jesse was eating it, definitely. If it was offered up for the class party, yes.

To-day, I guess because it's getting close to Christmas, I came across two homebaked goods. I just examined them for obvious peanuts or tree nuts and then let them go. Yes, Jesse has had a cross contamination reaction (hive only) to a Duncan Hines cupcake that I made and from a box that was labeled properly apparently.

I believe what *should* be done, is that you not have homebaked items in the classroom either, unless the parent has pre-checked them with you, especially if you have a written school plan whereby you're the food monitor for the school. All of us PA parents are more than welcoming of phone calls from other parents and yet I've never gotten them. But again, I've never seen a lot of homebaked goods coming in either.

I wouldn't *normally* allow them into the classroom. That would be my take on it, unless I had pre-approved the item to come into the class.

Why am I allowing them now? Because I'm beside myself and not thinking clearly.

If it was for a Christmas party though, I would be quite a bit more hesitant and strict. Anything I have felt uncomfortable with I have just always said that Jesse couldn't have any of it. I would actually prefer he didn't eat anyone else's home baking and I don't think he ever has (except my Mom's).

Did any of that make sense? Please let me know if I wasn't clear because I just have to go and lie down.

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Nov 28, 2002

Cindy

Do you (or anyone) have a reference for the fact that 1 in 5 "may contains" will contain nuts?

I have seen many posters comment on this, but I haven't been able to find the reference.

I have to speak to Adam's school regarding 500 "may contains", and I would like to back it up with a documented reference.

Thank you.

[This message has been edited by Adam's Mom (edited November 28, 2002).]

On Nov 28, 2002

Admam's mom,

I brought up "May contain Nuts" in Main Discussion. That thread may help you. Read down to where "Lam" posts.

On Nov 28, 2002

Adam's Mom, excellent that smack could refer you to the thread where I probably got the article that I have re the 1 in 5 stats. Hope it helps with your son's school.

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Nov 28, 2002

Cindy, Take a deep breath and let it out two times and smile. Things will get better, how can they get worse?!HUGS Have you been in contact with the allergy support group in Bellville? Can you talk to the other grade 2 teacher and see if switching would be a better option for you? Make some phone calls around your area and find out how other schools handle allergies. There may be a better option if you had to move. (That is another story!)Tell them you are calling for a friend if you do not want to give your name. I am a friend from Kingston that would like more info on schools in Belleville (then you will not be telling a fib!).

------------------ Karalot

On Nov 28, 2002

Karen T., excellent suggestions, thank-you. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] I've already been told, but then it was by Jesse's current Grade 2 teacher that he could not be accommodated in the split 2/3 class that is going on because of the provincial testing that goes on in Grade 3 and they really focus on that. I don't even know if I could ask for him to be switched - perhaps since Christmas break is coming up?

I hadn't even thought to call the other area school to see what their policies are re peanut free. Probably the same as where I am, I haven't heard of any peanut free schools or reduce the risk schools in the area because there doesn't seem to be a large population of PA people.

No, I haven't been in touch with the Anaphylaxis Support group in Belleville. I *should* be. That's another good idea.

And you're right, perhaps it wouldn't be that bad if we had to move again. I know that Jesse's old school here, in Belleville, even though he was the only PA child, they dealt with his allergy really well. The principal and the teacher. I really just hate all of this moving around. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] I think it's terribly disruptive for everyone, especially the kids and am really sad that they're in the position they are. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]

I will follow-up as you've suggested though and you know what? I don't mind using my own name. I've called many school boards on behalf of other PA parents.

I have to go, my daughter is having a bloody fit (I believe it comes from behaving like an angel all day and then coming home and she has to make up for her behaviour that I would have had to deal with all day otherwise [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/mad.gif[/img] )

Thanks again.

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Nov 28, 2002

Smack,

Thanks for finding the thread. It will definitely help when I present my concerns over this lunch being provided to the school students. Adam's school is, for the most part, very allergy aware. Two teachers have nut allergies. I believe this was an oversight, and if I handle it well with the reference to back me, there should be no problems.

Cindy,

Sorry to "barge in" on your thread. I was lurking and reading during my lunch break while at work, and I happened to read where you had mentioned the 1 in 5 statistic. I couldn't find the reference anywhere and it seemed the opportune time to post my question.

I am always saddened to read about the difficulties you and Jesse seem to have with this school. Adam's allergist has suggested to us in the past, that should we have problems with his school, that we should approach Anaphylaxis Canada for support. This could be another avenue you could try.

On Nov 28, 2002

Adam's Mom, thank-you for your caring and support. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] I did contact Anaphylaxis Canada last year when the new school in Belleville (not this one) wanted us to sign a liability waiver. I was told by the person (I can't remember her name) at Anaphylaxis Canada NOT to sign that. Based on her information and other information I got from both members posting here at PA.com and from a group e-mail I did out, I was able to support my position really well (also with the advice of my lawyer).

It's interesting because the superintendent I dealt with last year re this is the superintendent I'm dealing with again this year and he is absolutely fabulous with me. I had to call him when I heard the parents saying they were going to call the school board and we actually did a role playing thing where I was an irrate parent complaining about the peanut free classroom and how he would deal with it. He is very much *on my side*, if you will.

He did come to tour this school earlier in the week and rather than stepping forward and introducing myself, I just watched him go by (I am such a wimp [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] ). I would have liked to have met him properly and now regret that I didn't just pop into his line of vision. However.

I think a lot of people have difficulties with their schools and they're just not as verbal about them as I am.

I know I helped one Mom last year moving from one city to a small town get her son ensured his peanut free classroom and it was simply great to talk on the phone with her. But she wasn't the type of person that would come here and tell everyone what was eating her alive. I'm glad that she felt comfortable enough being able to tell me. She lives not that far from me, far enough that I won't meet her in the near future, but in my end of the province, so it was just really really nice.

And, there are, of course, a lot of people that have really positive experiences with their schools. As I said, I banged my head against the brick wall with the principal in the other town for two years only to have a *reduce the risk* school by the time Jesse left (and several more PA children). So, it did end up working out okay, just not for us because we needed to move out of that town.

I talked with one of the Moms tonight that wasn't talking to me and explained the situation in the classroom. She's not a fan of the teacher either for other reasons and she said that the teacher probably makes the children feel really bad about what they've brought in or doesn't even clearly explain to them why they can't have what they brought in. I have to speak with the principal to see if there is even a note in place to send home with a student when they bring an unsafe snack in (there *should* be).

For some reason, even though I have to do Food Nazi duty again tomorrow, I'm feeling more upbeat this evening. I think the definite lesson to be learned from this is that at the beginning of each school year, you have to check that the teacher has a food checking system in place that is workable and that adheres to the school plan you have in place. I do know that I checked lunches/snacks with the teacher at some point, one day only, and I guess it was a "good" day where they weren't a litany of unsafe snacks so she didn't have them ALL pointed out to her (and if they weren't brought to her attention, she simply didn't get it or want to get it).

I think that's the lesson I've learned. Even if I feel it's invading another child's lunch, I should be there to check to make sure there is a program in place to deal with the food checking at the beginning of each school year and do little spot checks to make sure that it continues if I have any qualms about the teacher. Lesson learned, so a good thing came out of this for me, and hopefully for some other members as well.

Many thanks and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Nov 28, 2002

Cindy - thanks for your answer. I guess I'm in a funny position - because I work in the school lunch program ( I guess I'm Nazi lunch lady( not for nut-related stuff - just regular discipline things!) Also, I see on a day-to-day basis what food is coming in to the lunchrooms. DS has opted to eat in the peanut-free room, so I don't have to worry about him at lunch-time ( even though I know granola bars, etc, are caught on a daily basis).

Yet - kids in DS's classroom bring morning and afternoon recess snacks. I do a lot of baking, because I like to and I'm a SAHM - so its also a means of cost-cutting. And I'd love to buy the tray of muffins at Costco, but its not in my comfort zone.

To be honest -I'm not usually around at recess (unless I'm volunteering) - so I don't know how many "home-baked" goods are coming in. Probably what you mentioned - one or two a day , more closer since the "holidays" are coming. "May contains" are probably there as well.

DS is has only reacted to peanuts which were consumed, but his classmate has reacted to the smell of nuts.

And, I know - a well as you know - anything home-baked is *potentially cross-contaminated*. I think the problem is that our school plays on the *peanut-free" class rooms - yet kids are bringing in questionable item - to eat "outside" for recess - and no one is being the food Nazi (lol) - like you! Instead of *turning my back* - I'm going to have to start questioning whats going on.

So sorry to hear about all your troubles with school/teachers/principals/reportcards/landlords.... do something nice for yourself - even if its a nice long bubblebath! Take care, mae [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Nov 29, 2002

mae, we had an electrical outage here this morning and I couldn't find clothing in the dark (I know, DH has already told me I'm BAD MOMMY [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] ) so the kids were 15 minutes late for school. However, this meant that I ended up not being Food Nazi this morning. I was able to check the items that they had pulled from the lunches/snacks. There was one homemade item, and again, I only looked at it to see if it had any obvious peanuts or tree nuts and then okayed it. That's what's difficult.

Another problem we had is with the wafer cookies that have cream in them. The vanilla and chocolate ones are okay and the strawberry ones aren't. How do you explain this to someone else checking the food without looking like, no pun intended, a total nut bar? I tried to explain to the E.A. and the parent volunteer and hopefully it was okay. I don't know. All I know is that if I see an item in lunches that my children haven't tried, it's probably not safe or they would have tried it by now. Do you know what I mean?

In Jesse's school plan, we do have a thing that there is to be no eating on the playground. This was looked after well last year because apparently the school had a bee problem and didn't allow eating on the playground for that reason. This year, it is a bit more problematic because there are picnic tables in the playground, especially for the older students who go up to Grade 8. I did give the principal clear instructions about what *should* be done should older students purchase lunch off the school grounds and bring it back. Have the picnic tables cleaned (shouldn't they be anyway?). I'm wondering if you could have a no food eating in the playground thing implemented so you don't have children eating outside at recess?

To me, if the school is not peanut free and certainly even if it is reduce the risk, there is the chance that there could be a child eating a pb thing during recess and then smear residue on the playground equipment. Have I ever really worried about it to the extent where I wipe down playground equipment? No.

I did hear a horror story about a school in Barrie that was terrorized with someone coming in at night and smearing pb on the playground equipment. It's obvious someone didn't like either the peanut free classroom status or the peanut free school status. I have always heard stories about eggs being thrown in school yards at night (why, I don't know [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] ) and this concerns me for egg anaphylactic children.

It's all so touch and go. I believe in the food monitor clause whereby you *should* be asked to check ANY questionable items that are brought into the classroom, but, as you can see from my experience, it's not really working.

On a positive note, I do have to say that last year, at the other school, with Jesse as the only PA child, the food monitor thing worked out extremely well. I received calls from many parents and teachers who were doing different fundraisers and buying food. I really appreciated that. I really believe it depends on the school and the individual personalities you're dealing with.

mae, I'll be okay. Thank-you for your concern and caring. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

As I posted above, I think a lot of PA parents experience what I do. Some just stop fighting and who can blame them and others, I truly believe, suffer in silence rather than post daily about their experiences. I do like to think that somehow by my posting and getting the great support, information and caring that I do, it will save other PA parents the same difficulties with their children's respective schools. And, if not, at least it helps those of us with difficult school situations not to have our heads collectively explode [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/eek.gif[/img]

Many thanks and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Dec 2, 2002

Hi Cindy....

How are things going this week? Hope things are going better than they were.

On Dec 2, 2002

erik, thank-you for asking [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] Things are no better this week at all and my head is about ready to explode. So, the E.A. is training the parent volunteer how to check the lunches and I'm there to help them. To-day, whose child has two, very clearly labeled "may contain" items - the parent volunteer's child. We just kinda laughed it off, she said her DH packed the lunch.

I had a woman approach me and ask if I was Mrs. Cook in a tone that I kinda didn't feel okay about and quite frankly was afraid to answer. She said that her family buys ALL of their food at the bulk food store and she has noticed that there are notices on all of the food saying "may contain trace peanuts".

I usually welcome the opportunity for questions or comments from parents, but I am so upset by this whole thing being played out each morning that I could scream. She asked me if the bulk food stuff was okay. I said that if it was labeled "may contain" (which she says it is) then it is not okay to bring into the peanut free classroom, that it has a 1 in 5 chance of actually containing a peanut product and it's like playing Russian Roulette in the classroom (trouble is, I don't know if everyone knows what playing Russian Roulette is).

The E.A. then started fumbling around with words telling the woman she didn't have to worry about it because her child wasn't in the class, but yes, he was.

So, we pull out all of the unsafe (i.e., may contain, no blatant peanut products) and have to replace them with snacks from the breakfast program. As co-ordinator of the breakfast program I'm able to say, okay, grab this and give it to them for snack. I send children out of the breakfast program each morning with snacks.

However, as the co-ordinator, and nothing to do with PA (it is a peanut free breakfast program), I am a bit irritated that the food for the breakfast and snack program is having to be used to replace unsafe snacks that should never have been allowed in the classroom in the first place, and certainly not three months later. Tuesday last week I went in to find my whole yoghurt supply gone.

So. I get home this morning and again I'm tired but I'm also getting really angry because I can feel the backlash already, in little things like parents not talking to me the same. I checked Jesse's school plan (thank-you Peanut Trace [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] ) and yes, it does definitely say that no "may contains" are allowed in the classroom.

I e-mailed the teacher with a copy of the school plan and copied the principal and the board superintendent. I am extremely angry and upset by this. I told her that it is quite obvious that snacks have NEVER been checked in her classroom and that she had placed my child at risk. I also asked her how she would like to deal with the backlash that I am already beginning to feel and could potentially affect Jesse. I'm waiting for a response.

I also copy my best friend, another PA parent, when I send stuff to the school and she can't understand why the teacher isn't getting it and she thinks I should demand another meeting with the teacher and principal so that she does get it. I think I'll wait for a response to the e-mail.

This is all terribly upsetting to me as I try to work with people at the school and hopefully in the school community to get the breakfast program up and running.

I already dislike Jesse's teacher for reasons other than her dealing with his PA (or not dealing with it) and this simply compounds things for me.

We did walk past the closest other school tonight and I will plan to call this week (someone, please remind me [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/eek.gif[/img] ) to see what their policy re PA is like if they have one or if they have more PA students.

Then, the food that is unsafe is simply being sent home with the children and they're being verbally told that it is not safe for the classroom. You have bewildered looking parents outside of the classroom each night now. The one Mom whose daughter is friend's with Jesse, she asked me about the rice krispie square and I told her that I appreciated all of the label reading she was doing but that that particular item, even though it looks really clearly labeled, isn't. Well, she just bought another box, so you can imagine she's not too pleased, just as I bloody wouldn't be.

I went on to explain that it was the teacher's fault, that Jesse's written school plan had not been followed for the past three months. But does that really help us move easily through the school? No.

I feel angry and upset and want to leave the school. I hate having to physically go in every morning for lack of volunteers and serve breakfast in the breakfast program (I am a mean woman, I know [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] ). I hate having to be on patrol as the Food Nazi.

I probably have felt this way sometime in the past with school with Jess, but I guess I just thought that perhaps things would get easier as he got older. I guess I always assumed that teachers would "get it" since they always have. I was probably ready or prepared for any difficulties with a principal since I've already experienced that, but I just never thought you could have a teacher from He**.

Again, as I told my best friend tonight via e-mail, if there is any lesson to be learned and hopefully other members here will learn it, make sure your child's school plan is being adhered to right away at the school, don't wait three months to find out it hasn't been because all he** will break loose and it's you and possibly your PA child that will suffer. No one else.

I did do the spot check once with the teacher but I don't know what has happened because even on that day and that would have been September month, we were not pulling out as many unsafe snacks as we are on a daily basis now.

I just feel really sad basically. Sad that the *real* world doesn't seem to be able to accommodate us as easily as I would like to have thought it could be done (heck, I've been living peanut/tree nut free for years now and our family does seem to survive). I know that when I was fighting in our previous town, another member (and good friend) told me that I was going to have to be the trailblazer of sorts because Jesse was the only PA child in the school.

So I was. And I do feel I got things accomplished there. But you know what? I'm tired now and I'd just kinda like to kick back and let my son go to school and not have to worry just like every other parent sending their non-PA child off to school. Do you know what I mean?

I know I've just done the big whine and you'll please excuse me. I will continue to fight for the *rights* of my son for as long as I can. But I also exercise the right to feel tired somewhere along the way..... [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]

Many thanks and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Dec 2, 2002

Hi Cindy,

Sorry to hear things are not working well. I think it would be best to transfer schools. Staying in that school may not be a good idea due to the backlash that seems to be developing.

I think you have a key point - that all this could have been avoided had the teacher been doing her job and been checking lunches properly these past 3 months. At this point, it is so late that it will cause confusion, anger, etc... so I would recommend a new school where you can have a fresh start, and where you can ensure that Jesse's school policy is being followed from day 1, rather than being ignored by the teacher for 3 months as this teacher has done.

I was curious about one thing you posted.. why would rice krispie squares be unsafe? I was under the impression that they were safe since they have no warning message on them (unless this has changed recently). In fact, I remember seeing boxes that said "nut-free" on them. Why would you consider them unsafe?

The Christmas holidays will be here soon.. I hope that will give you the time to relax and enjoy yourself with your family, and without all the stresses of the past weeks. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Dec 3, 2002

erik, hello! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] The No Name rice krispie squares are what we have the problem with. Yes, they are labeled well so any non-PA parent purchasing them would think that they are buying safe products. However, after my telephone conversation with Loblaw's again last week, Loblaw's No Name and President's Choice are still off limits.

They have the bloody policy that you have to call with the UPC from any No Name product and only then can the CSR tell you if the product is safe or not, regardless of labeling, dependent on who they farmed the manufacturing of the product out to. That's why we've never been able to buy Loblaw's No Name and also why I was so pleased to hear that A&P's Equality brands are labeled properly (I'll have to re-raise that thread to see exactly what they said, but I know it was positive in comparison to Loblaw's).

This morning was interesting. The E.A. the normally helps me with the breakfast program on Monday and Tuesdays for ten minutes came in this morning and said that she couldn't, she had stuff to do in Jesse's classroom (she normally works all both days in Jesse's classroom, but is not the E.A. that has anything to do with food checking). So, she left me and I really didn't think anything of it and probably shouldn't.

But then, when I went to help the parent volunteer and the other E.A. check the lunches/snacks, the E.A. (different one than last paragraph) told me it was okay, I didn't need to stay and help this morning.

I was quite relieved but after what's going on I also have to say I'm a bit suspicious. I'm not clear if I said something in my e-mail to the teacher yesterday about not feeling comfortable checking snacks (I'll have to re-read that e-mail).

So, I lost some help and I didn't have to help. Curious.

The friend of Jesse's had a note to the teacher from her Mother explaining the no name rice krispie squares to the teacher and how she had them for another two weeks but then would have fruits or vegetables. It was very nicely worded and she said it was because she hadn't received notice about the product being unsafe until she had already purchased more.

I can't begin to explain how I feel for non-PA parents in this situation. I feel like calling her and saying that I'll replace the no name rice krispie squares for her, but I can't afford to. I just really feel for any parent that has gone to the trouble of label reading (and I have seen those that haven't recently either) and they do feel badly when they feel they've done their best. They have!

Normally, we send home a thank-you letter at the end of the school year but I'm wondering if I should send something home with Christmas cards this year, just so that people will really know how much I do appreciate what they do every time they shop. I understand how difficult it is. I understand how much more difficult it probably is if you're not dealing with PA at all but are just placed in the position because your child is in a peanut free classroom. I really feel for these parents.

On the other hand, even though "may contain trace peanuts" seems to be everywhere, I feel badly for those of us who have children who are anaphylactic to more common (or what I think are more common) ingredients like milk and eggs and how the parent there must suffer greatly trying to ensure their child's relative safety in school. We've all heard of peanut free classrooms, but what about milk free? Is there such a thing? Does a child anaphylactic to milk have the same rights as my son does because he's anaphylactic to peanuts? Obviously, something I *should* raise outside of this thread.

I spoke with a Grandmother about a month ago who had a grandchild that was anaphylactic to milk. I told her I couldn't imagine the difficulties involved with that. I truly can't. Or eggs. I can't. I am thankful that I don't have to endure those difficulties and when I complain here, I do not mean to belittle others' difficulties at all.

erik, I'm still waiting for a response from the teacher and/or the principal (or even superintendent). I would prefer not to have to switch schools (but will also remind myself to call the other school re it's policy) mid year, only because I feel the kids have moved around enough already in their wee lives. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] We know that we may be moving again if the house sells (on the other hand, landlord said last night if he can get the other place rented, he'll take the house off the market - any renters out there? Actually, anyone looking for an investment property out there? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] ) and that may mean a change in schools again regardless.

The other thing I gain hope from are PA parents such as rilira, who posted about the he** she went through last year with her daughter's teacher but this year things are good. So, if you think that you are able to stay at the same school for all of your child's time there (up to Grade 8 for my guys) then if you get a teacher for one year that's crappy, maybe you just keep plugging along as she did until you get the okay teacher the following year. Do you know what I mean?

As I said, I have difficulties with this teacher that extend beyond PA. Yesterday, she told the kids that if they didn't have skates for the skating program, their parents had a week to buy them or they wouldn't be going. Well, at the last school, they always had skates that you could borrow. So, I went into the office and checked and our school actually doesn't have too many loaner skates. However, one of the teachers took me and found a pair of skates for Jesse to use. Do other parents know to do this or do I know because I've dealt with another school and how they accommodated children last year? So, another child goes home and basically tells their parents they can't go skating unless they have skates and if they aren't able to get skates, well, the parent doesn't know any better because their child has always been at this school.

(I must be terribly un-Canadian - I don't know how to skate and even though DH has a pair of skates we never go on family outings skating. Both kids will learn to skate only by going to the skating program through the schools - yup, I'm un-Canadian [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/eek.gif[/img] )

erik, thank-you for your caring, support and concern. I really appreciate it. I'm quite looking forward to the holidays (the kids only get two weeks off, I'm shocked, my *big* kid gets at least three) and hope I can figure things out then. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Dec 3, 2002

Cindy - so sorry you are going through all this! First a question- the no-name Loblaws product you are talking about - are they the "Our Compliments" brand? We don't have Loblaws here - but I think I remember reading somewhere that our "IGA" and Loblaws were connected somehow.

As for teachers - DS had a Grade one teacher who didn't "get it". She's been teaching for about 20 odd years and from what I heard from other parents she has barely changed the cirriculum (sp? my dictionary has disappeared along with my calculator and scissors - darn kids!). I just found myself jumping in whenever there was food involved ( craft projects, cooking) and spent a lot of time volunteering in the class. DS had a stash of goodies to choose from for birthdays.

Then, in Grade 2, he ended up with a really wonderful, caring, thoughtful teacher - whose husband is PA/TNA and has other food/environmental allergies. He had recently had an anaphylactic reaction to pine nuts in a restaurant. After a couple weeks working with her - I started questioning how safe DS had been with the Grade one teacher, as I don't think she really understood the severity of the allergy! Anyway - just wanted you to know that there are a few "gems" out there in the teaching world - as I'm sure you already know!

You mentioned that you feel the younger teachers "get it" or are more willing to learn about it. I think you're right - but DS's Grade 2 teacher would be an exception here, as is is 45. She often asked me if I knew where to get information on peanut-free classrooms/safe snack lists, etc.

Glad to hear that our kids aren't the only Canadian kids that can't skate!!! DS has tried, but won't take lessons - just wants to "give it a try" every now and then. He'd rather watch a hockey game on TV than play. DD's eyes well up with tears when we get ready to go skating - she's terrified of falling on the ice. ( She says she absolutely won't wear those "black skates" -that were her cousins. "Skates have to be pink!!!") [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] I can skate but don't own skates - where I grew up, we just rented them, unless we skated a lot, then we bought them. DH can skate and enjoys it, and so do I. Maybe this year we'll get out skating a bit more. Take care! mae [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Dec 3, 2002

Hi Cindy..

So they were "no name" rice krispie squares. I understand now. I thought you were talking about the "Kelloggs Canada" ones, which are safe and even have the "nut-free" label on them. So now the parents need to find new snacks.

Kelloggs Nutri Grain bars are a good choice too, and they are often on sale for $1.99 for a box of 8 at the drug store.

There is also a new Kelloggs Special K bar, and I think it comes in 2 varieties (strawberry & blueberry?).

I love Kellogg's Vector cereal, but unfortunately I can't eat the Vector cereal bar as it may contain peanuts/nuts.

Have a good day [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Dec 3, 2002

mae, IGA is somehow connected with Sobey's and also Price Chopper's. I think I have had a fairly good experience with questions re PA with them as well, but nothing as outstanding (or I would remember [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] ) as the response I got from A&P re their labeling. And to me, Loblaw's who are probably the biggest chain (though not clear) in Canada, their practice of having people call with the actual UPC is ludicrous. I don't actually think they realize how many consumers they may be losing because of this. I have an Independent grocery store near to me now and also Food Basics. Food Basics is an off-shoot of A&P as well. But the Independent is an off-shoot of Loblaw's and it just ticks me off to no end that I would have to phone them before purchasing one of their no name products. To me, the difference in price is not worth the pain in the a** to me. That's why I was really pleased to hear that they do, in fact, label their new Organics line *properly*.

Thanks for the comments re your child's two teachers. It really helps. I guess, for me, I'm finding it hard because it's Jesse's fourth year in school (does everyone here know that implicitly now [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/eek.gif[/img] ) and this is the first teacher that I have come across that didn't want to "get it", not even in the least and more importantly chose not to follow a written school plan.

We have always had "gems" and I guess that's basically my expectation (probably not a realistic one). Jesse's JK/SK teacher was great. She left in March month of that year to go on maternity leave and even the substitute for March, April, May, June (sorry, had to type them out, couldn't add the months up in my head [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] ), who I feel I have to add was also young, didn't balk at anything. Jesse remained safe in her class for the four months he was with her.

He went to Grade 1 for two months in our last town and things seemed to go well there as well. Then again, I never spot checked lunches/snacks there either. The teacher felt that the children could read their own snacks and become empowered and I thought "right on!".

Here for the remainder of Grade 1, again, another absolutely fabulous teacher. Even after their skating excursions when a parent would bring an unsafe product in for a treat, she wouldn't allow it in. And their skating excursions were considered rare and special. She simply chose to get it.

erik, Kellogg's does have such a great line of snacks that could be used as replacements or alternatives to the no name rice krispie squares. I have been substituting them with Nutrigrain bars from the breakfast program.

I have also, in my duty as Food Nazi, come across some other fun looking things from Kellogg's - a snack type of bar that had Frosted Flakes in it (not sure of the name). The thing is, it's "safe". Frosted Flakes, as a cereal, isn't here in Canada (it is in America and Jesse received some Frosted Flakes from his best friend in Michigan when they visited last summer), so I'm thinking it would be *good* to look for those so he could try them (same as you, erik, not able to eat the Vector cereal, can eat the bar). They do look yummy.

I personally know how difficult it is to shop when you're on a tight budget. That's why I really feel badly for parents that I know are really trying to get this PA thing right. Do you know what I mean?

Of course, I didn't feel too badly about the woman yesterday who ONLY buys bulk food because as far as I could tell, it wasn't a financial choice that she absolutely had to adhere to. I would LOVE to be able to shop bulk (I can envision a huge bag of ju jubes right now), but I can't. And I'm not saying that because I'm jealous that she can, I'm saying that you could tell she is not experiencing any financial hardship (although sometimes I very well know, people don't offer their income status on their shirt sleeves - I have been able to tell the school of 6 different children, 3 sets of siblings that *should* have invitations to the breakfast program only because I know them a bit more than the school does or the school even should).

I think that's what I do find frustrating, as a PA parent, that we can't buy certain no name products or food in bulk and we don't have the bloody money. I remember coming in here and posting about a simple grocery store experience I had a couple of years ago in the other town. I saw a woman stock up on tons of sale items (Christmas cookies, etc.) that were unsafe. I was in there with limited funds and just oh so wished I could buy as much food as she was. But I couldn't (so I came here to whine about it, what else is new? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/eek.gif[/img] ) and I live with that on a daily basis.

However, I can see where it would be difficult for other people, not in a great position financially to be forced (if you will) to deal with PA when they don't have a PA child. I feel really badly for that woman who sent the note in to-day because I know where she's coming from. I may even stop by to see her when I run an errand past her house this afternoon (also I might get a cup of coffee on this cold winter day [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] ).

So, when that happens, I'm simply more angry with the teacher. Give the people the information they need at the beginning of the school year, follow my son's written school plan, and then you don't have pi**ed off parents at Christmas time. How hard is that to "get"?

Anyway, enough. Thank-you both very much. I really appreciate it. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Dec 3, 2002

Hi Cindy,

I just wanted to clarify one thing you wrote:

"same as you, erik, not able to eat the Vector cereal, can eat the bar"

Actually, it is the Kelloggs Vector cereal that is safe. I eat the cereal all the time. But the Kelloggs Vector cereal bars are unsafe (may contain peanuts).

Just want to make sure people don't think the Vector bars are safe.. they are not. But the cereal is fine.. and tasty too.

As for not being able to buy in bulk, you are not missing anything. Trebor Allan large bags of candy are very inexpensive and often on sale (maybe cheaper than bulk?).

I went in a Bulk Barn at Dixie Mall one time, and I wouldn't want to buy a lot of the stuff in there anywhere. They have a big bucket of strawberry jam you can scoop out, but you can see dust settling on the top of it (there is a plastic lid but a hole where the scoop goes). As well, people are walking around sneezing and coughing. And who knows how long that jam has been sitting in that bucket.. weeks? Fruit flies probably fly in it too and sink in the jam.

So you aren't missing much... buying sealed food (ie: jam in a jar) is better. PLus who knows what brand the jam is... I often find the 500 ML ED Smith Triple Fruit jam for a good price, and it is really tasty (made in Winona Ontario). Plus ED Smith is nut-free.

As for the bulk items which I would consider buying such as candy (ie: ju jubes etc), I find Trebor Allan is just as cheap and better quality (ie: sour cherry blasters, etc).

Have a great afternoon... it is so cold today isn't it!!!! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Dec 3, 2002

Hi Cindy

I know your comfort zone is different from mine (I allow "may contains" as I have complete confidence that my own child will not eat anything not from home. Although she has reacted on contact I consider the risk of reacting to contact to a may contain item extremely low - the amount in the may contain item will be a trace amount and then the chances of her touching it when she is not eating it herself are remote. i do not purchase them for my home, but consider them low risk for school. I do think, however, that it is too late to change your position since your plan already does not allow may contain items). Anyway, that is not my point.

I am curious how education of the parents and children was handled in your school. Did the list of safe snacks go home? You should know as you should have received it as well. The list I provide is extremely detailed - and I mention the occasional surprise items that are NOT safe (like Breton crackers). If it did and you are having trouble checking lunches in the morning perhaps it is time for a reminder list to be sent home? If the school is unwilling to send it again, offer to photocopy it yourself, if necessary.

Secondly, have you had a session with the class? I always have a discussion in class with the students. I can send you my "script" if you want - essentially we talk about what allergies are, find out who in the class has allergies, what to do in the case of an allergy, how the children can help to keep Jesse safe (ie. reminding their parents not to send unsafe food, telling the teacher if they see unsafe food in their lunch, going for help if they see Jesse is having a reaction, reminding Jesse to always carry his epipen). I have found that although parents may not like the inconvenience you will be amazed at how helpful and caring the children themselves will be. I also show them the Alexander video and we discuss it. If you have not had a session with the class, ask the teacher if there is a time you can come to talk to them - you will need about 45 minutes, I would say. The presentation is also a way to educate the teacher without talking to her one on one.

My third comment is that since you have a plan in place and it is not being followed it is way past time for you to contact the school board. The Board is the only place with authority to reprimand the principal and the Board understands things like legal liability which principals and teachers do not consider. Instead of continuing to be stressed and frustrated, call the board. Ask who you can complain too when a medical action plan is not being observed in a school. I hope you will get a better response there.

Good Luck

deb

On Dec 3, 2002

Hi Cindy,

I'm really sorry that you are going through this disaster. It seems (since you are finding so many objectionable foods), that the parents really don't know what is OK and what is not OK to send. Perhaps, at this point, you can help the teacher formulate a letter telling exactly what is allowed into the classroom and what is not(suggest specific manufacturers and nix others that are off-limits), and include that it will be checked and sent home if not safe. Don't feel badly about products that are already purchased, they can eat them any other time of day or on winter vacation.

Also, since this is in Jesse's school plan, this should be handled correctly by the school (whether by a teacher or EA). You should not be expected to rifle through the other children's lunchboxes and replace foods that their parents sent in. I, personally, would be upset if somebody was going through my child's lunchbox (I am not criticizing you for doing it! It was not getting done, and needed to be.)

I know that it is late in the game, but if the school can communicate clearly to the parents what is expected in this classroom, and the teacher can be held responsible, hopefully, Jesse can have a safe classroom for the remainder of the year.

Good Luck, Andrea

Also, I completely agree with Eric about buying bulk. It is soooo gross!!! Anything could be in it. I'm sure new product is added on top of old product. Who knows when it goes bad. No sneezeguard. Dirty hands. Just disgusting.

On Dec 4, 2002

Cindy,

Do you have access to the personal information of all the kids in Jesse's class, i.e. food issues?

On Dec 4, 2002

Lam, I'm sorry, but I'm not clear what you mean [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/confused.gif[/img]

Here, in Canada, we're not allowed to have any personal information about the children in the class. We're not allowed to know their last names. Jesse, for example, would be addressed as Jesse C. This has to do with custody and anonymity issues and our right to privacy/protection or something. I only learn the last names of children if I happen to meet their parents or my kids tell me.

But anyway, still not clear what you mean, and I guess more particular re food issues?

You know me, I would attempt to answer based on what I think you mean but I'm not going to, okay? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]

I would also like to address each other post that has been placed in this thread since my last response and add last night's parent visit to my home to the discussion but I must admit, I have to do it later.

Lam, totally off topic, but since I had to ask you a question, I have a couple of more and don't feel like re-raising the threads. My apologies. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Can you tell me if you know of anything that would help with hormonal migraines period? Do you believe that the Omegas would help with hormonally triggered migraines? Also, if I eat canned tuna, which I have just found out that I like (how old am I [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/eek.gif[/img] ? ), does it have either Omega 3 or Omega 6 in it? What about canned salmon that I actually like less?

I'm being lazy right now, but can transpose your responses to the migraines thread later.

Many thanks and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Dec 4, 2002

Cindy,

Salmon is better than tuna, but, in actuality, you'd have to eat a good bit of it every day to get results. Much easier to take a supplement - and they are in such demand right now, you can find them just about anywhere - and in the long run they're much less expensive. Yes, I truly believe the Omega 3 helps with migraines - period - hormone related or not. I have not had 1 migraine since I started taking the supplements 1 1/2 years ago. I wish you well in this, Cindy!! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Now, as for my vague question earlier...

Something has been bugging me about what you've been going through. I have to say that the 'going through all the kids' lunches and replacing the unsafe foods' doesn't sit right with me. I would be very upset if someone did that to my child's lunch - from this point of view: what if it was for someone who was allergic to milk, and they went through my (PA) child's lunch, removing his safe foods and replaced them with foods that were milk-free, but not peanut-free. Then what? And, after what you told me about not knowing anything about the kids' personal information, I'd say the risk is pretty great.

Do the parents know that this is happening? What if a child eats what was put into their lunch (by you or someone else) thinking that their parent put it in there, so it must be safe? I, personally, wouldn't want that responsibility. I'd rather send a reminder home (from the school) to the parent 'x' number of times, then have some recourse for continuing to 'break the rule'.

Just something that's been rattling around my mind about all this.

On Dec 4, 2002

Have you sent a list of safe food ideas? Make a list of thermos lunches, sandwiches and different breads for a sandwich (ie pita), finger food lunch, snacks... Some times parents are so busy they do not think beyond the simple PB & J sandwich. Snacks can be made easy if they just know what to buy. The parents in my daughters class have always loved a list. A friendly reminder at the bottom to check labels just in case things change with production. A brief discription of what happens to a child in an allergic reaction and how important their help and cooperation is to the life of your child.

------------------ Karalot

On Dec 4, 2002

Okay, I think I got all my notes written down so I can answer everyone *properly*. Last night, just as I was about to step out to go grocery shopping, I had the Mother of Jesse's friend at my door with her partner. She was absolutely beside herself because her child had had something else sent home that day and she honestly did not know what to send for her child's lunches/snacks. She had approached the teacher the previous day and the teacher told her [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/mad.gif[/img] that they were given certain information at the beginning of the school year and that information had been changed (meaning, not that she had bugged up but that I somehow had). The parent didn't feel as though the teacher had helped her out in any way information wise and since she knows me she thought, okay, I'll go to the source.

I apologized to her because I know she is on a tight budget and explained again why this was happening (i.e., teacher had bugged up). So, we went through a list of foods that are safe that her picky eater child would eat. She was so cool and apologetic and I really felt badly for her. She has been label reading - how is she to know that Loblaw's No Name brands are not "safe". No one would know because they are labeled as if they were safe. The only person that would know is a PA parent that has called Loblaw's and inquired about their insane UPC phoning in thing.

At any rate, I had sent home some Nutrigrain bars with one of her daughter's Fathers last night and asked her to give them to this Mom to replace the child's snack because that's what would have happened regardless.

After my visit from her last night, I felt even more upset. I e-mailed the principal. I told her that two points of Jesse's school plan had obviously been violated or not adhered to. I also told her that I had had a parent at my door last night and that she would be one in a million who would show up apologetic. Other parents are going to be downright angry and who can blame them.

At the beginning of the school year, the letter that goes home does have my name and telephone number on it to contact me re food. No one ever does or ever has. I e-mailed a letter to the principal for approval basically apologizing for the confusion in the classroom at this time and saying that I both sympatized and understood the situation they were now in. I again provided my telephone number for anyone to call me at any time to ask me any question about food. The principal must have thought it was a good idea because she did approve it for distribution.

On the one hand, I felt as though I shouldn't have to write an apologetic in tone even letter to anyone because it was the teacher that bugged up, but I really want to get the flames out of this fire and quickly before there is an explosion and if it's me that has to do it, that's fine.

erik, thanks for clarifying re Vector. It can be so confusing and if someone mis-writes what you did then someone else reads it and thinks it's correct when it's not. I'm glad that you took the time to correct my error, thank-you. And, I'd have to say that you aged yourself. I would consider the demographic for Vector cereal eaters to be in their 30's, so there goes any of us that previous to your age confession thinking that you were in your 20's. LOL! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]

I can remember with great nostalgia a bulk food health store I shopped in every week 20 some years ago and what I came out of there with for $25.00. However, it sounds a lot different than a bulk barn and my soul, who would want jam in bulk. That does sound incredibly gross. Yes, Trebor-Allan's line of candies are great, but I'm sorry, I still really need to get a good old fashioned ju jube and jelly bean (I know, Dare).

DebO., a letter went home at the beginning of the school year. I'm not clear what else went home. I do know what paperwork I provided the school with, but not clear what they used. The principal doesn't want to send out the 11 page Safe Snack and Lunch List (posted here), but in an e-mail to her last night I did request that it be sended and I did say that I would have the photocopying of it done myself. She has not responded to that request. I really like the Safe Snack and Lunch List because it provides parents not only with the list of okay foods, but the reasons why their child is in a peanut free classroom and also basically menus for every day of the week.

Strangely enough, I guess because I have the PA kid, I never receive anything PA related in Jesse's knapsack. A list went home last week that I had not approved of apparently safe snacks and I never saw it. Turns out that a lot of the snacks were not okay. Again, I never approved it. I don't know whose idea it was to send it out. This, of course, added to the frustration of the parents.

A session with the class sounds like a good idea. I did see Jesse's teacher educate the class at the beginning of the school year re his PA and I actually felt that she did a really good job. Strange.

The superintendent did receive a copy of the e-mail that I fired off to the teacher the other day telling her she had violated Jesse's school plan. The principal did as well.

Lam, thank-you for your information re the Omegas again. I just know that you had mentioned you felt your family got enough of one of them in your diet that you didn't have to buy one of the supplements. Guess I'm going to have to buckle up the finances and get the supplements, especially if they have tamed your hormonal migraines as well.

I'll tell you why the hormonal migraines are particularly upsetting to me. My period is due tomorrow. The day before my period or the first day of my period I will get a migraine. Well, to-day was Jesse's birthday and I didn't want to be sick with a migraine. I got up this morning and didn't feel well and just kept hoping that I wouldn't get a full blown migraine that would ruin his day. I just feel that they are so uncontrollable. I know the things that trigger them and do try to reduce as many as possible. One other question re this though - are you still taking the pill? Do you think that could have anything to do with no hormonal migraines? As I mentioned before, I never suffered the twice monthly hormonal migraines when I was on the pill and have considered going back on it simply because of that. I can just hear you on this board when I finally tell you I got my Omegas. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]

The only other food allergic child in Jesse's classroom that the school/principal/teacher is aware of is the child that is anaphylactic to tree nuts and shellfish, allergic to watermelon and coconut. Remember when I thought I had violated her anonymity (the parent's)? They don't know of any other food allergic children in his class. There are only three food allergic children in the school that the school knows of (I can ask how many food allergic children there are, I just can't know their names).

I don't think the school would know how to deal with something more difficult, i.e., anaphylactic to milk and eggs. I really don't. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]

Karen T., at the beginning of the school year, and this is what really saddened me when people started complaining, we sent home a personalized letter rather than the regular school form letter re the peanut free classroom that was supposed to have been written by Jesse. Let me see if I can pull it up. It explains what happens to him if he has an anaphylactic reaction.

Here goes:-

September 2002.

Dear Parents:

I would like to make you aware of a health issue that we will be learning about this year. I have a severe food allergy to peanuts, their products, and oils. Strict avoidance is the only way to prevent an allergic reaction. The allergy is life threatening.

My body reacts to peanuts, like some people do to bee stings, as if they were poisons. Not only eating these products, but touching or smelling them cause me to have deadly reactions. These reactions, called anaphylaxis, affect several systems in my body. The symptoms can show up quickly or progress slowly. Some of my symptoms include, hives, swelling of my throat, lips, and tongue, and wheezing with difficultly breathing, just to name a few. For this reason we need to be most cautious with our classroom snacks, party foods, and lunches.

Out of the 21-plus meals we eat each week, two of those will be consumed at ____ _________ Public School. Each time he or she chooses to bring a lunch or snack without peanuts, your child plays an important part in decreasing the risk to me.

Reading ingredient statements for food and non-food items is extremely important. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Cindy Cook at 966-2340.

I want to participate fully in all of our class activities this year. With your help, we can keep our classroom safe for everyone.

I appreciate your understanding and co-operation.

My name is Jesse Cook. I am six years old.

Sincerely,

Jesse Cook

It was after parents were so vocal when we had sent home a letter from a 6 year old basically begging that he have a safe classroom that I was really hurt and upset. I couldn't believe it. I can believe them getting upset at the form letter, but if they sat down and read what was written and who by, well, it was just more hurtful to me.

I have to say that I did not write the letter (I can't take credit). It was written by another PA.com member and I'm sure that if anyone wanted to use it or parts thereof she would be fine about it. I'm positive she would be as she shared it with me to use.

I'll check with the principal tomorrow about the Safe Snack and Lunch List.

This morning I went into the breakfast program and most of my food was gone - apples, Nutrigrain bars, clementines, bananas. I was quite upset. Of course, I know why the food was gone but I'm still upset as the co-ordinator of that program that my food is gone because the teacher bugged up.

Okay, has everyone learned what I did the hard way? Spot check the first week of school and about a month afterward. Spot check and make sure they "get it".

Many thanks everyone for your continuing support (otherwise my head would have exploded) and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Dec 5, 2002

Cindy,

I started out taking Omega 3 AND Omega 6, then later found out that we get enough Omega 6 in our diets already, and that's not necessarily a good thing. But, Omega 3 is the one we really need - very good in lots of ways. Go for the Omega 3 only. As for the pill, I don't think it has any effect on my headaches. I've taken it since I was 20 (I'm 34) and I just started having monster headaches in the last 2 years. I want to be clear here - I still get monthly headaches, BUT a couple Ibuprofen stop them if I take them right away. It never helped before. You may want to know that some people have trouble with burping up a fishy taste - I don't, but then I'm not a "burper" [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img] . Even so, I'd think having a fishy burp would be much better than a migraine.

Back to my other point, I was going to edit this in, but never got back to do it. I wanted to add more reasons for not changing foods in lunches - maybe a child has a special diet that the school doesn't know about or need to know about (not life threatening, whatever), maybe the parent is closely monitoring what her child eats (for whatever reason). As an example, my kids have a hard time with food dyes, blue in particular. It's not an allergy, more like an intolerance. Now, I don't consider this something the school needs to know, but I do watch how much dye my kids take in every day. Anyway, more things that would keep me from changing anything in a child's lunch.

On Dec 5, 2002

Hi Cindy,

So I aged myself by mentioning that I eat Vector? hmmm.. Didn't know what age demographic ate Vector... haha ... Lucky I didn't say I like to eat Bran Flakes.. I think that would be an even older demographic!!?? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Also, it is good that you mentioned Dare as their candies are great too (ju jubes, jelly beans, etc). With all the talk about Trebor Allan, people may not realize about Dare's safe line of candies. It is good to support Dare as they are a local Canadian company based near here in Kitchener/Waterloo.

Anyway, back to the topic, it seems as if the parents are totally confused what is safe to send in their children's lunch. This might be a good time for the principal to send out a new letter clariying what is safe. I suggest that this letter mention that "no-name" products are not safe even if they do not have a warning label. As well, the letter should mention some safe snack choices (ie: Kelloggs rice krispie squares, Nutri-Grain bars, Special K bars, etc).

Good luck! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Dec 5, 2002

I've read through the whole thread, now, and have just a few thoughts to share. First and foremost: I think it is horrible that you (Cindy) have been put into the position of appearing to be the obvious "bad guy" who both rifles through children's lunches removing their food, and is "responsible" for making the parents' food purchasing decisions so complicated and difficult. This is terrible, and the teacher is allowing (and perhaps even encouraging) the parents to have this perception of you.

I can't in good conscience encourage you to change schools, as I agree with you that your kids have already had enough school changes in their "wee" lives.

One thing that does strike me about the whole "may contain" issue, is that to require parents to go beyond what they can read on a label seems to go above and beyond reasonable expectations. I can totally understand keeping something out of Jesse's class when it has a "may contain" statement on it. However, I do think it's going too far for a parent to be expected to know/learn that Loblaw's no-name items are unsafe, even if not labeled as such, for example. Does that make sense? Others may disagree, but there does seem to be a point when others' rights truly are infringed upon - and this begins to cross the line, IMHO.

I'm also going to jump in with both feet now and request that people try not to use the term "nazi" in such a loose manner. I apologize if I seem overly sensitive about it: my dad is a holocaust survivor and many of my relatives were murdered by nazis. To be honest, it didn't bother me when Cindy was first using it in this thread (maybe because I "know", like and respect Cindy so much?) But then when others started jumping in with it it began to bug me a lot. I prefer the term "food checker from he**" even through it takes longer to write!

So, I hope no offense is taken by any of my comments. I also know I am not the police woman of the boards, and I am only making a request.

Bottom line on the real topic: this teacher is the teacher from he**. Her discipline methods stink, and she has no business being responsible for little children 8 hours a day. Cindy, you are being put through the wringer at this school: something has to change. Good luck; my best wishes and hugs are with you. Miriam

On Dec 6, 2002

2 years ago, when Jesse was in SK, we learned that Pillsbury Canada was importing the slice and bake holiday cookies from the U.S. and not labeling them as "may contain", only labeling them to meet our bilingual requirements. How did I know they were "may contain"? I didn't at first and did buy them. I read it here. Then, I contacted the 1-800 # and was told that the product was not safe.

I approached Jesse's teacher and explained the situation. The items were "may contain" but not labeled as such. I told her that she could expect them at the Christmas party coming up or the Hallowe'en party. She said that no, she wouldn't be expecting them because if they were "may contain" even if they didn't say "may contain" on the label, she was not allowing them in her classroom. This was after I had even said that it would be okay for them to be in the classroom because there was no warning label on them but just that Jesse wouldn't be able to eat them at the party.

I am wondering if this is when I formulated my reasoning re no may contains in the classroom, even if they are not marked as such.

I'll be back in later. I have a lot of stuff going on and I just don't feel great. I do have some interesting stuff to post from yesterday and I would like to get it down but I don't know, I just feel kinda not great right now.

California Mom, I had actually thought about my use of the word Nazi before I typed it and I understood when I was typing it that maybe it would not be okay. I'm actually glad that you took the time to tell me that it was not okay. I am very sorry. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Dec 6, 2002

me too - sorry Miriam - thanks for pointing it out

On Dec 6, 2002

I'm new here ,and after reading the whole thread can tell you that i'm scared to send my son to school.He is only 2 goes to a sitters home for daycare were she can make sure he doesn't eat anything wrong.I was wanting to put him in a preschool in the fall ,but after reading this I am not sure anymore.There is a pn free school in the area but it is private (which means high tutition). I'm sorry you are having so much trouble with this teacher.

On Dec 6, 2002

Ally310, welcome! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] I want to respond to your post first of all. Do not be afraid to send your son to school or even pre-school. You can gather all of the information you need to educate whoever will be taking care of your child. It can be done and it can be done well. If you look at people posting here, there are very few that have the difficulties I post about. That doesn't mean that they're aren't more people out there that have difficulties though, they're just not verbal about them or don't post them on the board.

One member started to gather information for her son going to school this year at least two or three years ago so she had everything in place for her son going to school. As far as I know, he is going to school and doing well and he is safe.

The most important thing is that you have found this website. You can ask any question that you feel you need the answer to and people will help you so that you will feel relatively safe on the first day of school or pre-school sending your son off into the world. Please trust me on this one. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] Even though I am having the difficulties I have having, I have to reiterate that Jesse has NEVER had a reaction at school. This is his fourth year of school. Not one reaction. So, please, please, don't be dissuaded simply because of me.

I have had difficulties in the past with schools, but not to the extent that I have here. I have dealt with a reluctant principal before but never a reluctant teacher. Your son will be okay.

There are other PA parents that do choose to homeschool their children but I believe if we raised the question, PA wasn't the only reason or may not even have factored into why they chose to homeschool.

Yesterday I was leaving the school after doing my breakfast dishes and two girls that I know were coming into the school with their Mom. One girl is in Jesse's class and one is in Ember's class. I told the wee one that her class had gone skating, that there was no one in the classroom. The Mother said that the daughter couldn't go skating anyway because of her asthma and that the school was apparently refusing to give her her asthma meds which required hospitalization of the child on a weekly basis.

I asked her if she had heard of Duty of Care, which she hadn't, and I offered to send it to her via e-mail, but she just disconnected the internet this week.

She then went on to say that everything is being done to provide a safe peanut free classroom but what about her youngest daughter's allergy to red food dye and how it isn't being dealt with properly? Well, I was beside myself. Apparently, if the child ingests red dye it causes her blood pressure to rise and this requires some type of medical intervention although not clear what.

The Mom went off to storm into the office to see the principal. I know that if the child was anaphylactic to red dye (which you can be), that she has the same *right* as Jesse does - she could have a red dye free classroom.

I called the principal and the superintendent and spoke with them. The principal was just notified of the child's red dye allergy yesterday morning when the Mom stormed in there. I asked her if she thought that was odd, that 3 months into the school year she should be informed, and yes, she thought it was odd. She said that the Mom had requested that a letter be sent home re the red dye and the principal was going to comply with that, although the Mother had offered no medical documentation whatsoever.

We got a letter home last night with our SK children. It said that the child was allergic to red dye and ingests it, it causes a spike in her blood pressure. It went on to list fresh foods that are red that are safe and packaged foods that are red that are not safe.

I read the letter this morning. Could the timing ever be worse! To me, the letter was just plain stupid. I'm not clear, and will probably raise the question here if a rise in blood pressure would even be considered an allergy or an intolerance. And why would the principal issue the letter at this volatile time without medical documentation?

I had told the principal yesterday that if the Mom was having difficulty figuring out what paperwork she needed to provide to the school to have her call me because I could help her.

I called the principal this morning after reading the letter and I asked her if she didn't think the timing was really bad on this one. Her response was that yes, it was bad timing, but since the parent had just told her yesterday (and the parent probably realized she could say something because of the uproar re the PA, which is positive - her knowing I mean, not the uproar), bad timing was a part of life.

Just bloody lovely.

Lam, I understand what you mean about substituting snacks for children. For example, I don't care for my children to eat a lot of red dye (hmm, given above) and also sugar if they can help it. Even chocolate. I would have to say that I don't think the parents of the children in this classroom are that way or if they are, they are not vocal about it. The snacks that we use to substitute the unsafe snacks with are, I think, better, than the snack that was originally sent.

But still. We do have a high volume of children using the snack program. We have children appearing at school with no lunches and no snacks. It is all very odd and sad.

So, I see where you're coming from and I do agree.

To make matters worse for me, the woman that has been threatening to call the school board all year finally did either last week or this week. I can just imagine. I am SO fortunate that she chooses not to show her face when her child is picked up. I know for her that it is not a matter of financial difficulty. I know that she is just being a bi*ch. Pardon me. This is before the stuff started this last two weeks with the "may contains". She has been like this since Day 1 and I have to say that if she thinks her child's lunches are more important than my child's life, she's a total bi*ch. Yesterday, I was just so upset by it all. Actually, I remain so to-day, if not even more. Thank heaven she doesn't have a child in the SK class who would have received a note about the red dye or she would have had a fit.

I feel that the red dye letter at this point in time, with all of the confusion, etc. is minimizing the severity of the PA situation. However.

California Mom, I'm sorry, I have to disagree with the "may contains". Right now, if I wouldn't look like a complete idiot, I would let everyone have "may contains" in the classroom. I am SO tired of fighting about this. I don't even know why I have to fight about it. Why have we gotten along for three years previous to this fine as far as the food in the classroom and now it explodes and explodes into my face as far as I'm concerned because of a teacher making $70,000.00 a year who chooses not to get it (pardon me, it's $69,000.00+).

The "may contain" clause in Jesse's written school plan has exploded because the teacher did not adhere to his written school plan, period.

If she had adhered to it from the beginning, we would not be having this problem or this discussion on the board.

I do feel that if the item is "may contain", then it can't come into the classroom if we're not allowing "may contains". We can't allow products in because the manufacturer chose not to label them properly. Do you know what I mean? If we let the improperly labeled items in, we might as well let all of the "may contains" in. Truth be told, I'm letting "may contains" in next year. I can't this year now because of the uproar, confusion, alienation, etc.

I'm sorry if I'm coming across strongly and also very angry. I am.

On an upside, when I came across the red dye issue yesterday I needed a couple of answers about the right of the child in a classroom in our province, Ontario. This meant I needed to call another PA.com member that I have never spoken with before. We have always been in touch via e-mail but I have never called her.

I had an absolutely wonderful, enlightening conversation with her (are you reading this out there? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img] ) and I was really pleased to have talked to another member.

I think that's one thing that we do miss in cyberspace. Sure, we're in touch here and we may even be in touch with a lot of people "off-the-board", but I can tell you that it is very different when you actually get to speak with someone on the phone. It must be great to meet. So, that was my highlight out of all of this sh**.

Otherwise, I just feel like stopping to talk about it. I feel sad, angry, upset, violated, a lot of things. And that little pink pill every night is not going to sort this out.

I'm taking the "may contain" clause out for next year regardless of what school Jesse is at. I respect those of you that have the "may contain" clause in and have been able to keep it in successfully. I obviously haven't. I'm going to let it go. I'm too bloody tired to fight anymore. I want to spend my time re PA helping other people or learning more about different manufacturers, not on a bunch of b/s.

Pardon my language and thank you so much everyone for your support, caring, and concern.

I know that a couple of other people posted that I need to respond to, but I'd like to close now. You know me, I'll be back later. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]

Many thanks and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Dec 6, 2002

In our school if a child comes with a lunch that is not acceptable for a pn/n free room they must take their lunch and eat in another classroom. Their lunch is not allowed in the classroom. This can happen when a babysitter or grandparent is making lunch. Just thought this might help the in a nasty situation.

------------------ Karalot

On Dec 6, 2002

First of all: Thanks Cindy and Mae for being so understanding about my request. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Cindy, this thing about the red dye is definitely unfortunate. I would have expected that the principal would require medical documentation before sending a letter out to all the parents about this. It just makes life that much harder for you, the other parents, and possibly Jesse. (I guess it makes it harder for the teacher, too, but I'm not very worried about that!)

As for the "may contains": I honestly truly understand where you're coming from with regards to labeling. It just seems too hard to me to expect the parents to be able to judge that a product isn't safe to bring in if they can't actually read it somewhere on the packaging.

Even when people can read it they can be so stupid, though, of course. This is off topic, but we were at a cousin's house last week to celebrate Hanukkah. She asked me if the chocolate gelt were safe. I showed her where it said "this product is not safe for nut allergy sufferers". So what do you think she did?! Handed them to all the kids except Leah. This was quite upsetting to me. I wasn't actually worried about Leah's safety in this case, "just" her emotional well being. She didn't even wait until they were going out the door, for goodness sake, but let them all eat them in front of Leah.

Good luck with this miserable situation, Miriam

On Dec 6, 2002

I agree that it is very difficult to ban products that do not contain a nut warning. There have been so many posts here about products made by various companies (Con Agra, Kelloggs USA, Haagen Dasz, etc) which have NO NUT WARNING, yet they are considered unsafe to eat by many.

Trying to ban these products from the classroom may be difficult since they appear safe. The other point is that how will parents know it is a Con Agra product for example, as the company has many many different brand names. They may send a Hunts pudding cup to school and assume it is safe, not realizing it is made by Con Agra.

As long as the PA child (ie: Jesse) only eats food that he has brought along from home (does not share food with the other students) there should be no risk to him from other students eating these products.

However, the exception is if something is being prepared for all the kids. For example, if the class was going to bake Pillsbury rolls and they had no warning on the package but there was no guarantee that they were safe. Since it is for the class, a safe product should be selected that all the students can eat. It should be safe for everyone. It is not right for the PA student to miss out.

AS for lunches from home, I don't think there would be a risk from these items as long as the PA child only eats his own food from home. That is why I do not think it will cause any problem allowing "may contains" in the classroom next year. Although for younger children it is not safe as they may share food.

As you said Cindy, you are spending so much time and energy on this battle, but for next year, you probably could achieve much more if you didn't have to worry about the may contains. You can focus on other things as it is not good for your health and happiness to be in this stressful situation.

On Dec 6, 2002

Erik, that was very well put and makes a lot of sense. Miriam

On Dec 6, 2002

Yes, erik, I agree.

I'm so glad you were better able to put it into words than I. Cindy knows how I come across most of the time. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]

Cindy, I truly hope the decision is beneficial to everyone next year - especially you and Jesse. I think it will be. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Dec 6, 2002

Did anyone have to show medical documentation for their child's peanut allergy? I realized that most children would have an epipen and maybe that is enough 'medical documentation' for the school.

Before my daughter was tested for peanuts I had told the school (daycare) that she was allergic due to her reactions. They did not require any medical documentation.

Even with my son, who is 'allergic' to insects bites and bee stings, who has not yet been tested (will be tested in Feb 2003) the daycare again has not requested any medical documentation. My son does not have an epipen as of yet but has Benedryl for reactions.

On Dec 6, 2002

My preschool wanted a doctor's signiature on the allergy action plan we have in place. It gives them a medical signiature for the intervention they may need to do for a reaction. becca

On Dec 6, 2002

Hi

I think CodyMan raises an interesting point. I needed a doctor's signature on the medication form to allow my children to carry their epipens. However, well before I provided this I had numerous discussions with the principal and teachers and had already discussed the action plans for each one of them without providing any sort of documentation. I guess it feels wrong to me to say that a parent saying their child must avoid red dye must provide medical documentation when we don't. Of course, the child's reaction (raised blood pressure) certainly is not equivalent to an anaphylactic allergy but I would also consider that this other child is in kindergarden where there is a much higher risk of sharing foods than in Jesse's class since he is older.

I am also uncomfortable with replacing the snacks and am glad that Lam has continued mentioning it. I think that if you continue to provide the children with an alternative snack the parents will continue to send in inappropriate foods. Does your plan actually state that you will provide alternative snacks for children who have items with peanuts or may contains? My approach is that the child is not permitted to eat the snack and a note is sent home reminding the parents that we had a peanut free classroom. The children will not suffer any serious harm from missing their snack for one day and are more likely to complain to their parents and to remind them not to send the wrong foods if they find they can't eat the snack. Most parents will not want their children to go hungry and so will try to send the right snacks the next time. I also agree, however, that it is unreasonable to ask parents to avoid a may contain that is not labeled as a may contain. These people are being kind enough to alter their shopping and lunch packing habits by reading labels - i don't expect them to also contact companies for information or to be as aware as a PA parent would be. Erik addressed this issue so well that I am not going to try and reiterate his points - I certainly do agree with him though.

Anyway Cindy I hope you are feeling better and find a way to make it through the rest of the year. Fortunately the Christmas break is almost here so you will have a couple of weeks without your "school stress"

take care

deb

On Dec 7, 2002

Wow, Cindy, this is a terrible and unfair position you are being put into. I have not had the chance to read every single post but have definately followed this page, and skimmed back through others. I want to add my sympathy first of all.

I hate having to be in that type of position, when I think our schools should be the voice of rule and authority on these issues, if they decide to take on policy. It is unfair to have you in the position, as the parent of the allergic child, of searching and enforcing the policy. It is hard for us to be completely objective and for others to see us as very objective in carrying it out. Not saying specifically that you have not been objective and/or fair, but just that it is *challenging* to be so personally involved and in charge of all that follow through. It seems similar to medical professionals treating close friends and family members, in a way.

It would be better if there were a teacher or administrator doing the "policing" then consulting with you about questionable items or problem with the system, until it is ironed out and running smoothly, then still evaluated periodically. Just seems so logical to me, but am finding this same(though not as grand a scale at all) lack of follow through with the more athoritative figures in my school.

On the may contain issue... I have to agree with you on the point that if the policy states it a certain way, it needs to be followed through for the sake of consistency to the policy. However, I think you are wise to reevaluate that for the future as you have said because it does become next to impossible to enforce. I know it is an ongoing process(especially with labeling in the states) to feret out what might be an undeclared "may contain", but agree with you that a "may contain" is a "may contain" regardless. However I really have to agree with those that say we cannot expect others to understand and carry out such diligence with their shopping if our child is not eating it or sharing it. As you are finding, I think it is confusing to those with non-allergic kids if the label looks okay, but the product is not. It is really a problem for us, though. If it is for a party or group sharing thing, then I think the common food items do have to be safe. Period.

This is where I am having similar troubles. The may contains that are not labeled, and my dd has been fed one of these once in her class. She was fine, but clearly my list was not read very carefully. I actually found out by asking my dd daily what they had for a snack, and was so upset when she said "animal crackers." I was lead to believe all snacks would be from the safe list I provided. What has now happened is there is always one of my safe things available, and sometimes other things are being seerved. It is this judgement I did not want to hand over to my teacher, a virtual stranger, really! I originally wanted to simply send in my dd's own snacks, and the other kids could have whatever(nut and PN free though and no known may contains). I was promised it would all be safe, and the school wants to provide the snack because it is in the budget, in my tuition payment and we are entitled to this. Just not working. The big issue is with these subtle labeling issues where we know things are not safe, but laws do not require it to be on the label!! I think the teacher has an issue with keeping to my list or something as well, but has not voiced this openly(there is another topic on this). I am digressing, but these things end up getting way more complicated than neccessary, IMO.

Chris, I am cutting you a check to fund your efforts for better labeling. It is next to impossible for even the most well-intended friends of mine to know what is safe for my dd. It is still hard for me. Thanks for being there! Becca

[This message has been edited by becca (edited December 07, 2002).]

On Dec 7, 2002

I have been following this thread and wanted to add a few thoughts:

First off, is the letter sent home by Jesse the only communication that was sent to the parents? On one hand, the letter is wonderfully worded and I think having it from Jesse is very effective. However, if I was a parent reading this letter, two things jump out at me: 1)There is no mention that Jesse can have a reaction even if he doesn't consume the food. This might be second nature to us, as parents of children with PA...but most people would not think THEIR child having a snack labeled "may contain" could harm Jesse. They would realize it would not make an appropriate 'party' snack, but would not put together that their own child can not have it. 2)It uses the verbage that every time you "choose" to not bring in peanut snacks. This, again, to me sounds like a voluntary thing....not something that is mandated.

I think a short, to the point, note needs to go out that lists what IS safe and the reason behind not allowing "may contains" in individuals lunches/snacks.

Something else that keeps jumping out at me is this: Cindy, you have stated that you would let the "may contains" in except that it would make you look like a 'complete idiot'. I am not sure if you really feel this way or you were just really upset at the time you wrote the post...but...if you really feel that the "may contains" do not pose a threat to Jesse...than by all means, change the policy and move on. Who cares what other people think? I disagree with the tactic that just because people haven't been following the plan correctly you need to keep putting yourself through this and stick with it to make a point. You could simply state that you have re-evalutated the situation, and now that Jesse is older you feel he can handle having "may contains" in the classroom, as long as they are not for a class party/project,etc. (However, if you truly feel the "may contains" are a threat to Jesse, than of course you should do what you feel needs to be done).

Also, earlier in the thread you mentioned that on one particular day you went through the childrens food and got rid of all the "unsafe" foods. You went on to note that they were all "may contain" type...that there were NO OBVIOUS PEANUT PRODUCTS. Maybe it is just me, but I think a "thank you" is in order to the parents of the children for this one. Many parents are probably feeling frustrated because they have been avoiding peanut products. (I know for myself that I do not require any restrictions on the snacks of my sons classmates...but a note goes home in the beginning of the year just as a reminder. I am always pleased and thankful for the consideration of the other parents who are not sending peanut butter snacks, etc.)

Lastly, what does Jesse think of all this? I know that he is still young, and many decisions still need to be made for him. But how does he feel about it? I would take into consideration what type of backlash he may receive as a result of this. I know that others may disagree with me. I do not mean that you should put him in harms way to keep him happy...only that he is getting old enough that his feelings should at least be taken into consideration.

Just my thoughts...obviously this is your issue, and you need to do what is right for you.

Kelly

On Dec 7, 2002

Hi California Mom, Debo and Lam,

I am glad that my posting made sense. There are so many times I try to write a posting, and I read it over, and then delete the whole thing and re-write it.. sometimes I just give up til the next day.. hehe I am glad it made sense to you all, as it is not always easy to put thoughts into words that make sense. Sometimes the thoughts are so clear in my mind, but then writing them down, they seem messed up or confusing.. hehe.

And Cindy, I hope you are having a fun weekend. The birthday party for Jesse at McDonald's sounds like it went so well.. that is great!

Have a great weekend everyone! All your postings in this thread make a lot of sense too [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Dec 8, 2002

Codyman, you raised an interesting point about showing medical paperwork to the schools before requesting safety measures be put into place for your PA child. The ONLY medical documentation I have for Jesse's PA is on the emergency medical form, which I actually fill out and the doctor simply signs. This only tells the school what to do should he have an anaphylactic reaction. It has his picture on it (I provide that or the school takes one with their digital camera), a list of anaphylactic symptoms and then the steps (which I have written) of what to do should he have an anaphylactic reaction (i.e., Epi-pen, two puffs Ventolin, dial 911, Epi-pen again in 15-20 minutes if ambulance hasn't arrived).

I actually have no medical verification whatsoever that Jesse is PA except for that one piece of paper. Of course, he has his Epi-belt on and he wears his MedicAlert bracelet but no where in the school records would there be a letter that simply says that this child is peanut allergic. The school really only, except for the emergency plan, has MY word for it.

Interesting. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/confused.gif[/img]

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Dec 8, 2002

Was it in this thread that someone mentioned they couldn't find Kellogg's Nutrigrain Twists anymore and thought they weren't being made anymore?

At any rate, had wanted to post since Wednesday when I did see the pricey little bugs.....

I found them at PharmaPlus (Canadian specific). Regular Nutrigrain bars were 8 in a box for $3.79 (they're on sale this week though, along with the Twists) and the Twists were 6 in a box. Pricey little bugs, as I say, especially when they remind old aged one here of a fig newton cookie.....

If it wasn't in this thread, erik, where the heck was it?

Oh, and if you were worried about aging yourself by telling us about Vector, heck, don't worry about it, a Candy Guru has to be young (or young at heart), don't they? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img] So, that would have you right back in your 20's dear sir! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]

To everyone else that I still owe responses to re the school situation, please bear with me. I appreciate each and every person who took the time to follow this thread and to add their input. I'd like you to know that.

I also am really burnt out and need to take somewhat of a break. Tonight for me, it was visiting PA.com and actually being able to visit other people's threads other than my own and hopefully help someone else out. I'm really tired and stressed and don't want to keep posting that on a daily basis.

However, you know me, I will eventually respond to everyone *properly*. Until that time, thank you for your thoughts, caring, and concern. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Dec 8, 2002

One thing checked out, as I said I would. I did call the closest other school to us. They only have one PA child there as well. The child does not have a peanut free classroom the same as Jesse's. If another child in the class wants to eat a peanut product, he/she has to sit out in the hall and eat it and then wash his/her hands.

I spoke with a fellow college student of my DH's (so an 18 year old) and he said that his old school, where his younger sister now goes has what is known as "the peanut zone". It is a place in the basement of the school where anyone who wants to eat a peanut product goes to eat and then, again, has to wash before they come up into basically what would be considered a peanut free or reduce the risk school. This is in a different town.

I spoke with the superintendent of the school board last week as well re PA when I was speaking with him re the red dye situation. (I have to say now that I also recognize that I often times do not follow through with what I say I will in my threads, not just this one, and I really feel the need to make sure that if I should happen to follow through that I do post it). He said that he had spoken with a vice principal at the high school level.

Of course, the children have a cafeteria to eat in (someone mentioned this very early on in the thread). The cafeterias in this school district are run by outside companies and the school board (or an individual approaching the school board) is not able to tell the company what they can or cannot sell.

To-date, they had only had one PA student enter the high school system here (at which point I told the superintendent it was time for us to go back to Toronto - more PA children I would think [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] ) and that that child, given the above information, found a "safe" place to eat in the school for himself or simply made other arrangements - i.e., went to a safe restaurant, went home, etc. but that he did have a "safe" spot in the school, not the cafeteria, to eat.

So, I did do some follow-up within this school district and I recognize that I still have some other things to address in this thread yet.

Holiday season is quickly approaching and I would love to tell everyone that I'm just really stressed busy with that and may not be around here as much, but truth be told, that's not really it. I *may* just need a break. I have a lot of things going on and certainly all of them are things that have been going on for some time, including PA, but I have never felt quite this way before. I know I have felt overwhelmed (and raised a ? about it - LOL!) and I know I have threatened to leave the board before (but usually after a thread has gone bad).

For some reason, I just feel really different this time and I'm able to pinpoint pretty clearly why, it's just not stuff I can post here.

Now, that doesn't mean that in say 8 hours from now, I won't be right back in here, but just in case I'm not, please don't worry, I'm just kinda life overwhelmed right now (to-day, in thinking, I decided that I could actually be having a mid-life crisis despite the age of my children because DUH I am middle aged). Something is happening and it has a heckuva lot more to do with other stuff than it does with PA.

But you guys know me. I'll be back to answer each person *properly* who took the time to share their caring with me. I have always appreciated that and will always continue to do so.

Many thanks and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Oh, and erik, I did re-read the thread and I can't find anyone wanting Nutrigrain Twists in this one. Can you remember? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Dec 8, 2002

This is the letter that went home Wednesday with Jesse's classmates:-

December 2002.

To the Parents/Guardians of Children in Ms. ____'s Grade 2 Class:-

Hello! My name is Cindy Cook. I am the Mother of Jesse, the child in your child's classroom with the severe peanut allergy.

I understand that within the last couple of weeks there has been much confusion about what you are allowed to safely send into the Grade 2 classroom. I would first of all, like to apologize for this confusion.

We have been dealing with Jesse's peanut allergy for more than 5 years now and it is pretty easy for us, but only because we have to live it every day to ensure the safety of Jesse's life.

You do not know how much I sympathize with those of you (everyone I suspect) who has never had to deal with this before, especially when you diligently read labels and the product you are buying appears to be safe to send to school.

I'd like you to know that at any time, if you have any questions or concerns, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at 555-5555. I can pretty well tell you off the top of my head which different store brands are safe and which ones aren't, but only because I've had to call the manufacturers myself to see if the food was safe for our family to eat.

I wanted you to know how badly I feel about the current situation with the food in the classroom and I also want you to know that Jesse and I appreciate all of the efforts that you have gone to so far this year to keep him safe at school.

Please please call me if you have any questions, concerns or comments, and I'd be more than happy to help.

I hope everyone has a good, safe, Holiday Season.

Best wishes, Cindy Cook

I posted this to show what went home last week and also because someone (I believe kelly01, not sure at this time of the morning, I'm sorry [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] ) had said that perhaps a thank-you note was in order.

Again, we do send home a thank-you note at the end of each school year to all of Jesse's classmates and then depending on the financial situation at the end of the school year, possibly something else. Last year it was a regular size box of Smarties (not treat size) with each child. The year before it was an Alexander the Elephant that Couldn't Eat Peanuts colouring book. Just depends. So, hopefully, I've covered the thank-you kinda mid-term this year and will certainly continue my end-of-the-year practice of sending a thank-you letter home.

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Dec 9, 2002

Cindy: Thanks for your reply...just wanted to clarify on my lengthy post above, in re-reading it, I realized I made it sound like you "owed" a thank you to the other parents. What I really meant is just that you could be thankful (or "at peace" I guess would have been a better way to put it) with the evidence that at least the other parents were not sending obvious peanut products to school.

I think it is wonderful that you do send a thank you...but I didn't mean to imply that you owed them a formal thank you.

I realize you mentioned you might take a break from the boards, but I wanted to clarify for the sake of anyone who might be following and/or learning from this thread.

regards,

kelly

On Dec 9, 2002

Just a note that I do have an emergency plan written and signed by myself but NOT signed by a doctor. The school or daycare has never requested this.

On Dec 9, 2002

Hi Cindy..

The "Nutri-Grain Twist" posting you were looking for is in the "Kelloggs Canada up to date info" thread... I raised it for you.

It sounds like you want to stay away from the boards for some reason ... I hope that you are fine. Maybe relaxing with your family at Xmas will help.

You don't want to be too alone though.. even if you don't post, I think it is good if you visit and read postings as your reading about your friends here at PA.com will bring you comfort from your stressful situation.

Have a good week. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Dec 12, 2002

Well, I have had Jesse home all week sick with a cold, very bad cough, etc. so I haven't really had much dealing with the school. Monday I was able to go in to the breakfast program without the kids. Tuesday I wasn't feeling great myself and this followed over to Wednesday so I didn't return to the school until to-day (I actually hate that the school has to know when I'm not feeling well in addition to my children not feeling well). I took Ember in for school and Jesse went into the breakfast program. I wanted to see how he made out there and made the decision to bring him back home.

The principal chose me to be the breakfast program co-ordinator because, per Jesse's school plan, I am the food monitor for the school. When she approached me, she just said that she felt it would be easier if I did it because the co-ordinator would have to check on the food with me anyway. I accepted. Only problem is, I can't find any volunteers.

We had a huge donation of cereals come in over the time I have been away this week and I had to take four bags up to the office - one was "may contain" and one had tree nuts in it. It is not a peanut free school but the breakfast program has been very clearly promoted as "peanut free" (that doesn't explain the very clearly labeled "may contain" muffins in my freezer over there right now but anyway)..... I digress.

I think I realized that I didn't necessarily have to take a break from the board, but I had to take a break from this thread, which obviously, I did.

Karen T., yes, children have been eating unsafe items out of the classroom. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it however. I think it depends on how well liked the child is by the teacher or how well behaved the child is. And, this is not sitting well with the parents that their child should be removed from the peanut free classroom to eat something. As a parent, I don't feel comfortable with ostracizing my PA son and I can well understand why another parent would not want their child ostracized either.

In Jesse's Grade 1 class in Stayner, the teacher was adamant that she didn't want to ostracize any children who brought unsafe items into the classroom. She was going to have them eat them in a separate part of the classroom. This would go against Jesse's school plan, but I understood where she was coming from. Fortunately, we didn't stay there long enough to have that one explode in my face.

What I can help but continue to wonder is how this has been done successfully for 3 years and now it seems like I'm asking for something so unmanageable. How was it done? More importantly, how was it done so effectively that the other parents did not complain or feel moved to hiss at us?

erik, your post was right on. Although we do not allow "may contain" items in our own home and never will and I do have the expectation that Jesse *should* be as safe at school as he is at home (thereby, I really feel that "may contains" should NOT be allowed in his classroom), I have to take the clause out for my own sanity. It is not working.

I want Jesse to be as safe in his classroom as he is in his own home. Why? Because he's not in other parts of the school as I have outlined in this thread already. Not the library. Not the gym. Not the computer room. Not the bathroom for Lord's sake. And not karate where the children actually bring their lunches in to the karate class in the gym. I would prefer to keep the "may contain" clause in his school plan.

However, how, in my head, can I justify letting in products that I personally know are unsafe (i.e., "may contain") because they are not labeled properly? It's still letting in a "may contain" product. So, to me, better just to lose the clause and see what happens.

As Lam pointed out much earlier, Jesse has been okay for the three months where the food was not being checked properly. So, next year, I will take that clause out. It is a comfort zone thing and definitely I would re-look at it (great wording there, Cin [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] ) should Jesse have a reaction. The other important thing is that Jesse has NEVER had a reaction at school.

So, yes, the "may contain" clause can go. Jesse has never shared food, even when he was wee in school (so very unlike his sister - LOL!) and he is getting older so no concerns there at all.

Lam, you always come across just fine for me. I like how you're straightforward. I really appreciate that in your posts. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

DebO., no, our school plan does not say we will replace unsafe snacks. You have made an excellent point. I particularly liked this, as this is what *should* be being done with Jesse's class:-

My approach is that the child is not permitted to eat the snack and a note is sent home reminding the parents that we had a peanut free classroom.

This is also what is supposed to have been done since the beginning of the school year. However, because the food was never checked properly, a letter was never sent home either (or a note). I believe notes did start to go out within the last couple of weeks.

Kelly01, I appreciate your thoughts re the letter that was sent home to Jesse's classmates at the beginning of the school year and I will certainly re-word it for next year (and advise my best friend and PA.com member to do the same, as she wrote it). The Safe Snack and Lunch List (posted here) was *supposed* to go home at the beginning of the school year but never did. I requested that it go home within the last couple of weeks but still have heard nothing re that.

As far as how Jesse feels re all of this. Jesse doesn't really know when I'm having a hard time at the school. He does know that I have a school plan in place for him. He really trusts me implicitly as far as me looking out for him at school as far as written things. Do you know what I mean? I also believe that he trusts himself and knows that he will not be eating anything from anyone else anyway. It's hard enough to get him to eat period.

When it comes time to change his school plan for next year, because he is 7, I will ask him to read it with me. He was at the meeting with me this year with the principal before school started and again at the meeting with his teacher. So, he is pretty aware but also pretty nonchalant. It's something Mama takes care of and I guess he thinks I take care of it well. He never knows about any upset I'm having about it.

Codyman, does your PA child carry their Epi-pen at school? Are they one of the children that have their pictures on an Emergency Form in the office? The reason I'm asking is that although Jesse was required to WEAR an Epi-pen as soon as he started school (at age 3-3/4), he was not allowed to unless it was signed by a doctor. Also, the emergency plan in the office has to be signed off by a doctor. There are currently only two emergency plans hanging in our office - both PA children in the school.

I believe that is why other parents in our school district are having difficulties as far as having asthma meds, etc. administered to their children. For the emergency plan to be followed, it does require a doctor's signature. That is in the school district I am in now and also the previous one I was in. In the previous one, my friend's 7 year old started to experience migraines. She had to have an emergency form filled out for him, with his photograph, etc. and what meds to administer to him should he fall ill with a migraine. And it had to be signed by a doctor.

Other than the note that came home in Ember's lunch last week re the red dye, I haven't really heard anything this week at all about the situation in the SK class. But then again, as I said, I haven't been at the school all week. I do know that for me, I will respect the request and not send any red food dye items in.

I hope I have finally answered everyone who took the time to respond to me. I really appreciate it. I think really for me, I thought it might get a bit easier as time went on and I guess I've just had a really fortunate experience for the last three years. I'm glad I have everyone here to count on for support, encouragement, information, and I also think importantly, questioning of my comfort zone.

Many thanks and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Dec 12, 2002

Hello Cindy:

I have been reading this thread with great interest as we are experiencing similar difficulties at our son's school. First, let me say how sorry I am that you are going through this as I know first hand how frustrating and upsetting it must be for you. I wanted to share my perspective with you for what it's worth. Our school has become "peanut-safe" and our struggles are with the rest of the school, not our son's particular classroom. We have decided that in order to "Reduce the risk", we ask people not to send in actual peanuts or nuts or "May Contain" products because that is what we consider reasonable. We know that this might allow some potentially unsafe products into the class and school due to improper labelling but we are attempting to "reduce" the risk, not "eliminate" the risk altogether. This is how we justify our position as we feel it is reasonable to ask parents to read labels but not to know about products to the extent that we do. I hope this is helpful to you in some way. It sounds as though you have already made your decision regarding "May Contains" and I fully respect that. I simply wanted to share our perspective in hopes it might help you or others in the future. Take care!

On Dec 12, 2002

E-mail I just sent to the principal after another parent approached me this afternoon at the school. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. I'll let you know (what else is new [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] ) how it was received:-

Dear Mrs. _____: Hello! I was approached by yet another parent from Jesse's classroom when I went to pick-up Ember from school to-day. She cannot understand, and with good reason, why a particular food item was not okay for the peanut free classroom. Why? Because it is not labeled as "may contain" and no one but a parent of a peanut allergic child would know whether that particular No Name food item was safe for the classroom or not.

If we go back to the beginning of the year theoretically, as soon as an item came into the classroom that was questionable, i.e., a No Name item or one that didn't appear to be labeled well, according to Jesse's written school plan, as the food monitor for the school, I should have been contacted and asked if the product was okay.

I could have told either school administration, staff or fellow parents that the item was or was not safe.

We are now into the school year for three months. As I have indicated to you in previous e-mails, it is quite clear that food checking of "may contain" items was NEVER done in the Grade 2 classroom, also in direction violation of Jesse's written school plan.

This is the fourth year that Jesse has attended school. We have NEVER had this problem in the past with a teacher who has chosen to ignore or simply not deal with his written school plan. In fact, this is only the third year that Jesse has had a written school plan. The first year, all of his written school plan was adhered to, without it being in writing.

I did discuss, with Jesse, tonight, the possibility of taking the "may contain" clause out of his school plan immediately. Unfortunately, because Jesse was suffering anxiety regarding his peanut allergy for most of the summer and has been verbally threatened since entering _____ _________ this fall, he was not okay with this.

I do believe that between the end of this school year and the beginning of the next school year, I will be able to discuss this with Jesse in a more thorough manner and be able to remove the "may contain" clause from his school plan although it does go against my better judgement as his parent.

For Jesse, the only "safe" place at school is his classroom. His classroom has the same requirements as we do in his home, i.e., no blatant peanut products, no "may contains", no "made ins". He does manage to navigate through the school in relative safety to computer, science, gym, library, and even the extracurricular karate where children are eating their lunches. I feel that this is risk enough for Jesse.

In saying that I would consider the removal of the "may contain" clause from his written school plan for next year, it would only be if I knew for sure that another part of his written school plan was being adhered to - that children wash their hands after snack and lunch.

I am not sure if I have made it clear why "may contains" are not allowed in the peanut free classroom. A "may contain" product has a 1 in 5 chance of actually containing traces of peanuts. It is basically like playing Russian Roulette with my son's life. Of course, the risk is lessened if he is not eating the product, but it is still there if the product is in the classroom.

What I would like to suggest is this. Any items that appear to be labeled "properly", i.e., all of the No Name crackers, etc. that I know are not safe, but any other diligently label reading parent would not know, can be allowed into the classroom. I believe this will help to alleviate confusion, misunderstanding, backlash and a litany of other emotions that are currently running high at the school.

However, in saying this, I do not want it to be interpreted by anyone or to anyone, that I have sent out a mixed message and that the information the teacher received to begin with was confusing. This was never the case. The case has simply been that of a teacher that has chosen not to adhere to a written school plan for an anaphylactic child.

I also feel it is imperative for the Safe Snack and Lunch List, regardless of the number of pages (11, I believe) to go home to the parents. This list is comprehensive and explains why another child is in position of being in a peanut free classroom. It is also an excellent document for meal planning. As I offered to you last week, I will have this photocopied myself for distribution. At Jesse's school in our previous town, I often had photocopying done at the school regarding his peanut allergy and simply paid the school. I can have it copied here downtown for free.

If you, yourself, feel that you would like to read documentation regarding "may contain" products, please let me know and I can easily provide that to you.

Mrs. _____, you cannot begin to understand how difficult this situation has been for me, and I suspect somehow, also Jesse. I have dealt with a reluctant principal before, but I have never dealt with a reluctant teacher before. It is a very new and sad situation for me.

If you think this would be okay, I can easily help the parent volunteer go through the snacks and lunches again to re-familiarize her with the new requirements.

It should also be implicit in this that any cookies, crackers, etc., that come in, not pre-packaged that we know are not "safe" will not be allowed in the classroom.

I do have to ask if there is a reminder note that goes home with a child that brings in an unsafe snack/lunch. Is there? There has been some concern raised by other parents of peanut allergic children about our substituting snacks from the breakfast program. If we continue to substitute snacks, how will the parent ever know/learn that it is not okay to send the unsafe snack in?

And, of course, there is the alternative that I am a bit uncomfortable with. Any child that does have a snack that is not okay, i.e., "may contain" only (not a blatant peanut product - they are NEVER allowed) is asked to eat it outside of the peanut free classroom and someone makes sure that the child washes their hands before re-entering the classroom. I am uncomfortable with this for a couple of reasons - I do not feel it is okay to ostracize another child and I also don't feel comfortable that the written school plan would not be adhered to.

As far as the parent that called the school board (finally), was it ever suggested to her that her child could be moved to the split Grade 2/3 class? It has been quite obvious that she has not been comfortable since Day 1 with the peanut free classroom and these latest restrictions (again, ones that should have been in place since the beginning of the school year) brought this to a head for her.

This afternoon I was able to tell the parent that Food Basics' No Name products are okay. Dewe's No Name products aren't. But how can we get that specific? I believe the majority of parents of Jesse's classmates have been doing a wonderful job label reading. They have gone above and beyond the call of duty. I don't believe his teacher has (especially given Duty of Care). I would like to alleviate the stresses on the parents and I'd like to relieve it now, and, if possible, without explanation, especially from the teacher.

Please let me know what you think. I'd like you to know also that this is the first time that I have ever had to have so much principal involvement with the peanut free classroom issue. Obviously, I do at the beginning of the school year when I present the written school plan, but usually after that, I tend to deal only with the teacher. In this case, unfortunately, it is entirely not possible.

Thank-you for your time and consideration.

Best wishes, Cindy Spowart Cook

I also copied the superintendent on this one, as I did on one a couple of weeks ago. I want him to be aware as well that a written school plan is not being followed or has not been followed since the first day of school. I'm hoping that I do come across as reasonable and caring and I'm hoping that I don't tick the principal off, especially by copying the superintendent, but I really want them both to be aware that I feel the teacher has bugged up big time and that I'm not okay with it.

As someone mentioned above, a superintendent would especially be aware of the legalities/liabilities involved in someone not following a school plan.

Tonight, after I got home from the school, DH could immediately tell that something was wrong with me (more *wrong* than usual [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img] ) and we did discuss taking out the "may contain" clause immediately. But I also felt it was important to approach and include Jesse and to put it mildly, he kinda freaked. Not everyone may remember, but Jesse had a hard time this last summer with anxiety re his PA (posted about, of course [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] under Living with PA).

I'm wishing this would be the thread that would die a happy death and quickly, but I have to say that although I did need a break from it this week, it's also good that it's here so that I can continue to post under one thread what's going on with the school.

And my soul, if only ONE person learns something from this (other than me), I'm thankful.

Thanks for continuing to read. I appreciate it.

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Dec 12, 2002

Nicely (and tactfully) put, Cindy.

-Sue

On Dec 13, 2002

Cindy, hope the break was enough to clear your mind.

My daughter has her picture on the Emergency Form in the office. Just my signature on the medical form NO doctor's okay.

As for the Epipen, last year (JK) and this year (SK) the children hang their backpacks in the classroom and her Epipen and Puffers are in a Medical Alert bag in her backpack. There is also another Epipen in the classroom on a hook.

I have read in the school newsletters about medications being stored in the office and mentioned this to my daughter's teacher and whether or not I should approach the principal about her Epipen and Puffers. The teacher said "No, it needs to be with her at all time".

My daughter goes to Daycare before and after school and needs to bring her Epipen and Puffer to the Daycare even though they have an Epipen there, I like her to carry extras.

Perhaps next year I may need something in writing because the Grade one's hang their backpacks in the hallway. My daughter will still need her Epipen and Puffer with her and perhaps she will start wearing it all the time. For now, I carry it most of the time, she wears it when we go on trips- zoo etc. I will have to approach the Principal towards the end of the year about this. I may need your help later this year in setting up a plan.

On Jan 17, 2003

I just posted this in another thread but chrikey, it ties in here as well (probably better here), so I control C'd, Control V'd (thanks Cayley's Mom [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] ) it into this thread as well. What the he**! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Okay, so here's why I posted this question. In JK/SK Jesse did not have a written school plan. He had an absolutely fabulous teacher and if any little blips came up (and I mean little), I dealt with her personally by speaking with her. That young woman learned more about PA simply because she had Jesse in her class than I think she'd ever really need to know (except that she is a teacher and will have PA children in her class). She was great. The principal at that time was not that great, couldn't figure out why I thought it was important Jesse be included in all school events safely as well and I also dealt with her in meetings. Finally, at the suggestion of another PA.com member, I got superintendent involvement just as Jesse was about to enter Grade 1 in that school district. The teacher and I had always gotten along fine but the principal and I well, we butted heads. We butted heads verbally and I have to say nicely.

So, we come to a new town and last year, any little blips re Jesse's written school plan (which he had implemented for Grade 1) were dealt with again very simply by speaking with his teacher. I don't think I ever had to speak with the principal about anything to do with PA last year (I may be mistaken), but we certainly seemed to have had an easy go of it last year compared to this.

This year. Well. Jesse's teacher is not one that will stand and talk after class because she has too many parents in the classroom trying to talk to her about various things. She's just not open to discussion. I did try. Honestly I did.

I have found out that the woman has consistently screwed up Jesse's written school plan since Day 1, little by little. Well, each time there was a mistake (let's not say "screw up"), since she's not conducive to verbal communication, I thought I would simply e-mail her to confirm that this product was not okay in the classroom or whatever.

When I found out that she had not been checking for "may contains" for 3 months, I e-mailed her again and I have to say that the tone of my e-mail was firm. With this one, I also copied the principal.

When Jesse had his anaphylactic reaction, the teacher handed him off to an E.A. in training and didn't deal with him at all. After I got home, I went over and looked over Jesse's emergency medical plan and spoke with the principal (not his teacher) and said that I would get something more comprehensive together and over to her.

I e-mailed the principal and I copied the superintendent of the school board because they basically screwed up big time. I didn't say this in the e-mail though. I just went over the list of symptoms and what our emergency medical plan is and how it was NOT followed on that day.

Fine. I have to meet with Jesse's teacher about her continued segregation of my son from the rest of the class (they sit in small groups of 3 or 4, Jesse sits beside the window separate - there are 3 or 4 other children that do as well). I had spoken with her the day we left for Christmas break and she said that Jesse's behaviour was very much improved and she didn't consider him a problem anymore.

The first day back at school, he was in a group. He came home that night and said that he was so happy he was in a group. He also told us that he understood that the teacher was going to be changing the seating arrangements again but he hoped he would still be in a group.

I checked the board that night when I went to pick him up and his name was not on it for misbehaviour.

The next morning, I take Jesse to class after the breakfast program and there he is in segregation again with the saddest little face on him. My heart was broken.

I came home and e-mailed the teacher. I reminded her of our pre-holiday discussion and explained that I couldn't understand why if he was behaving he was still being segregated and how harmful that could actually be to his self-esteem. I also pointed out that perhaps because he's isolated from the other children that's the reason that he is talking out in the class, just so he has someone to talk to. I told her that I was absolutely heartbroken. It was not a nasty e-mail.

Well, I told my DH about the situation when he got home from school. He was absolutely livid. I love it when I think I've handled a situation accordingly and then he gets even more livid than I do. He called the school and wanted to speak with the teacher who was gone and he left a message for the principal.

I called and left a message for the principal that night asking if I could be relieved from the breakfast program at 8:30 a.m. so that I could have the 15 minutes to speak with Jesse's teacher about his segregation. Relief did not come. I went into the class at 8:45 and asked Jesse's teacher if he would still be segregated. Yes. I pulled him out of class. I went into the office and told the principal I was taking Jesse home and keeping him home until the situation was resolved.

(As you can see, this really has nothing to do with his written school plan, does it?)

I went to the school in the afternoon when the teacher had her prep time. This is the time that she is available to meet with parents. The principal was the referee. The teacher basically sat there and would not say anything to me at all. The principal had to ask her questions to try to get some answers out of her.

The principal did explain to me that under The Ministry of Education Act there is something called *preferred seating* for children that are considered problematic by their teachers. However, I referred back to what the teacher had said pre-holidays.

I knew this wasn't just about Jesse's segregation but I also explained to the principal that I spend a lot of time advocating on behalf of Jesse's allergy and sometimes other issues get waylaid and almost lost and this one had to be dealt with.

I told the teacher that her discipline methods were archaic - that my ex-husband had been placed in a cardboard box outside the classroom by nuns almost 40 years ago and her methods were not much different. I told her her clean-up crew was Nazi-like (I'm sorry, Miriam and others [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] ) and that as per Jesse's school plan if he should be on the Clean-up Crew he better bloody not be touching any food.

She still sat there and basically said nothing. Then I said what was really bothering me. I said when Jesse had his reaction you didn't even deal with it, you handed him off to an E.A. in training. She got up to leave the room to go back to class (it was time) and I left her with the parting comment that she better re-read Duty of Care.

I went red in the face. My eyes were on the ground. My hands were shaking. And this woman has this face of stone and will not respond.

The principal had three options for me. Jesse could remain in her class, which may mean remain in segregation. He could be moved to the split Grade 2/3 class (remember I had a meeting already with this witch a couple of months ago and that's what we wanted to do but it was considered too "disruptive") but he would have to be very quiet in the class and I don't think Jesse could do that. Or, we could leave the school and go to a school close to us that would be like a 1960's or 1970's "free school" (I'm actually going to look into that for future years for both children - I was so jealous that I never went to one and my sister did).

Surprisingly, Jesse chose to stay in her class.

Interestingly, Jesse has not been in segregation since that meeting.

What I decided to do was completely stay away from the teacher (until she kills my child). I will not check to see if his name is on the board. I will not even enter her classroom. I will wait outside like a lot of other parents simply do for my sweet guy to come running to me.

The principal thought that perhaps this would work.

And how does this tie into the question? The teacher found my e-mails (of which there were not many) HARRASSMENT. When I reminded her of how she was not following Jesse's written school plan in writing either by e-mail or letter (for example, I had written about Tim Horton's not being okay in a handwritten note on beautiful stationery), she has considered this HARRASSMENT.

Of course, she also considered my DH's message left for the principal to be embarrassing, threatening and abusive.

How can dealing with your child's written school plan be considered harrassment unless the person knows that they have screwed up consistently? How can a caring parent bringing something to a teacher's attention for their child's safety and their child's LIFE be considered HARRASSMENT.

This happened last week. I was without my phone and without the internet. I was absolutely beside myself.

This week, Jesse had a skating outting which I posted about in Tamie's thread under Schools as well. I was literally scared to approach his teacher about the parent designated supervisor and carrying his meds. I didn't. I called the principal instead.

Thank heaven for the principal. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

I had wanted to do a couple of web searches tonight (Matthew Modine comes to mind [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img] ) and I had wanted to ask a few more questions here as well, but I have to admit I'm tired after that long winded posting.

Thanks for listening. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Jan 20, 2003

Simply re-raising for another member to see. Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Jan 21, 2003

Oh my goodness, Cindy!

After all the moves you've already made, I hesitate to say this, but... you need to get the heck out of there!! Unless you can see light at the end of the tunnel - meaning a better time next year, and the year after that, etc...

My heart is breaking for Jesse and for you. I'm so sorry about all this. I wish there were something I could do.

Can you take the next step up the ladder of administration, or do you think that would just make things even worse?

I'm so, so sorry.

On Jan 21, 2003

I can't help but wonder, if you enlisted the services of a lawyer, child advocate, intermediary of sorts, would it still called "harrassing"? As is my habit, I always Document, document, document. I had a representative who had offerred to intervene regarding a school/PA related situation, but we declined. I don't regret the decisions we made, since I feel our son is now in an environment where those who watch over and instruct him are genuinely concerned and make concerned efforts to be genuinely informed about his PA/Food allergies/asthma and other matters. They also have, without blinking, taken certain measures to ensure his safety. I cannot express how much that means to us.They truly have demonstrated a desire in action and word to have him in their school. I feel for your situation and Jesse.

On Jan 21, 2003

This might undo your whole plan regarding the may contain issue, but, can you simply keep a list that goes home to parents of all the items you do consider safe? I realize these things need revision and sometimes a once safe item is no longer, but then you could alert with a note home and alert the staff? At my school(which is far from perfect on the food front as you all know), the actual food intended for daily eating(the daily snack) *is* off a list I provided. If there is anything questionable, like cupcakes for a birthday, I have provided items to give my dd. All items coming in for any/one/all children do have to be PN/TN free as well.

So, individuals might have may contains at lunch time(an optional thing for us anyway), but the notes home do say not to, so the risk is down. When we have a party, the room mother(and I am it for the next party) posts a very specific sign up list. I can even put brands on it, or just do those things myself and put paper products, fruit, veggies, and such on the list for sign up.

Basically, it is (in theory, and we, too, have wrinkles) always in writing exactly what parents can send in. I am not sure I like this because I think people are resistent to being told what to do, but it seems you are being put into that position anyways. Maybe ask around to the toughest ones and ask if they would have an easier time with a specific list for reference?

My friend lives in a city closer to Boston, and her dd's music class has sent home such a list and simply states, "Here is a list of snacks which will keep all the children and staff at our school safe. Please refer to this when sending food into the school." That is it. I will not get this cooperation at my school, but I am happy the whole place is PN/TN free despite my other food issues(sweets). Just some other ideas, but maybe too late or too much change.

Also is of no help for the past troubles and poor treatment. Sorry for that. I was just thinking, maybe a new plan might make for less trouble, but change might make more trouble! The confusion with may contains is the unknown labels and you could explain this simply with a note and a list. So tough. becca

On Jan 24, 2003

Cindy,

Your situation greatly reminds me of our situation last year. I don't know if you remember that we were approached about moving grade levels for Rachel? Anyway we went for it. Academically it was the best decision for Rachel. I was pleasantly surprised to be dealing with a situation and decision making at school not dealing with allergy issues.

Anyway the new teacher was a nightmare. Same as your experiences she didn't follow the plan, things had been ignored on the plan, and she picked and chose what she would follow. The teacher viewed the plan as a document she didn't have to follow.

I started out with sending notes (I don't have beautiful stationary though) reminding her of the plan and my concerns. She ignored almost all my notes. She did approach the princiapl saying she was not happy with the plan. The principal explained that we would have to have a meeting to discuss any possible changes. Keep in mind this teacher was given the plan prior to Rachel moving to her class, reviewed it with the nursing director, and spoke with me both on the phone and in person. Needless to say the principal, nurse, asst. principal, all supported the plan as it was.

That was the beginning of the end of the relationship with the teacher. Things got to the point where you are, pulling Rachel out of school, being offered a change in teacher... We thought long and hard about what to do. We also had the support of the principal like you seem to.

We decided to leave Rachel where she was because academically it was the best decision. There were safeguards put in place. I started to deal only with the asst. principal, I never spoke directly with the teacher anymore. Rachel was told that anytime she felt uncomfortable, unsafe, or singled out she could leave class and go directly to the office. The asst. principal and principal made "visits" to the classroom throughout the day. They were subtle so the other kids didn't know why they were there, but Rachel and the teacher did. They would walk by Rachel and lay a hand on her shoulder. It became obvious to the teacher that she was being watched.

I also filed a formal complaint with the district office against the teacher. I kept a written copy of everything and was advised not to e-mail. E-mail is too easy to say they didn't get it. I always hand delivered everything directly to the office.

I have to admit as the year went on, I completely enjoyed the fact that the teacher knew she was being watched and was intimidated by my presence. I know she was reprimanded but they legally can not tell me how. I know on two occasions representatives from the legal dept. were sent to discuss the legal ramifications of violating a written plan.

It was hard as he** to make it through the year. I really felt like if we backed down it would only encourage this teacher to discriminate against the next child. I have to say though if Rachel was not so self aware and I knew could take care of herself, I would have thought twice about it.

On the flip side, Rache llearned at a young age that not all teachers are nice, not all teachers do the right thing, and not all teachers are smart. In the year, she was exposed to this teacher she matured so much with her allergy it was amazing. She went from a child who knew Mom would handle it to taking charge of her own allergy. She is now at a point where I thought it would take until the teenage years to ger to. I have watched her become a tremedous advocate for herself and her self esteem is not so high it is almost embarrassing.

I thought long and hard about our situation and worried about how it was damaging Rachel but like I said she actually is a better person for it.

Continue to let your presence be known at the school and especially let this teacher know you are watching what is going on.

Take care,

Linda

P.S. How is that for a long winded reply?

On Jan 24, 2003

Cindy, I am livid. (I'm sorry that I only just saw this thread today so I didn't respond any sooner.) The situation you are in sounds horrible. I cannot imagine not being able to talk to my child's teacher. Do you remember what happened to me at the beginning of last year, when Leah was in first grade? We had that horrible "interim" principal and the lunch time E.A. from he**. The E.A. wouldn't listen to a thing I told her about Leah. The principal called my dh at his work, and told him that the E.A. felt that I was harrassing her and that if I spoke to her again I would be banned from campus. I was absolutely hysterical, truly beside myself. I called the district nurse and let her know what was happening and how upset I was. I also annonymously called the superintendent's secretary to find out what my next step should be if I chose to take it. (I would have done it in a heart beat but dh didn't want to "make waves" [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] ) It all got resolved when the E.A. transfered to another school and the principal finally left. Meanwhile I was a jangle of nerves. Thankfully, through all this my relationship with Leah's teacher was excellent. I cannot imagine the situation you and Jesse are in. How could the teacher have just sat there and not said a word?! Doesn't the principal realize how unprofessional this woman is being? And harrassment?! I cannot even begin to express how I feel about that. Grrrr. Please keep us posted. My heart is with you. Hopefully you can take comfort in Rilira's post knowing that Rachel came through a similar experience so well. Still, I am livid on your behalf. Hugs, Miriam [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]

[This message has been edited by California Mom (edited January 24, 2003).]

On Jan 24, 2003

Hi Cindy, I'm sorry your having problems with your school. There's nothing worse than people not caring enough to keep a child safe. Hard to believe those people exits. But, as parents of pa kids we know they do. I guess thats why we have these kids and not them. I'm sorry I don't have any advise for you. (My son isn't in a school setting. The teacher from the school comes to our house). I just wanted you to know that I wish I could make it better for you. rj

On Jan 25, 2003

I notice that I have had a few replies the last couple of days. Can I please address them later as I'm *supposed* to be getting kids ready for a birthday party and sleep-overs. At any rate, e-mail just sent to the principal with a copy to the superintendent, over something I just learned from Jesse this morning at breakfast. I am SO ticked off (worse than that [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/mad.gif[/img] )

Dear Mrs. Hello! I understand that we, as a family, came to the conclusion that Jesse would remain in Mrs. ____'s classroom (that is what he wanted) and that this meant he could possibly have preferred seating (which, interestingly enough, he has not had since the parent conference we had with yourself, Mrs. ____ and I). I also suggested to you that I felt the best way for me, in particular to deal with Mrs. ____, because she felt my e-mails were *harrassment* was to avoid dealing with her as much as possible.

I have to say that as a parent, and particularly a parent of a peanut allergic child, this is very difficult, but I also understood that it was in Jesse's best interest.

This morning, at the breakfast table, Jesse brought to my attention that a child in his classroom has been eating Kraft crackers with cheese which are clearly "may contain" items. As I have discussed at length, we have not found ONE cracker and cheese pre-packaged item that is safe (that is why my children have never had them). The ones from Food Basics are safe, although they do remain no name. The pre-packaged crackers and cheese that are being eaten are Kraft. These are definitely not safe because Kraft also makes pre-packaged peanut butter and crackers. I have not had cause to check them lately, but do know that Kraft labels their products really well and the main package that these would come out of would clearly be labeled "may contain trace peanuts".

I asked Jesse what exactly was going on in the classroom - apparently it has been happening for at least the past month. Jesse said that he has told Mrs. ____ that the Kraft pre-packaged cheese items are not safe but A is still allowed to eat them in the peanut free classroom. I asked if A was eating them at lunch whereby a handwashing routine should be in place and he said that no, she usually eats them for snack where there is no handwashing routine in place for after the children eat their snacks.

As you know, I was considering taking the "may contain" clause out of Jesse's written school plan after it had been ignored by his teacher for three months and because of the ensuing confusion it caused for other parents when the snacks finally began to be checked for "may contain" items. However, since Jesse had the anaphylactic reaction at school, this is not a viable option for us for a few reasons. First of all, we are still unclear as to what Jesse reacted to and secondly, I strongly feel that his teacher did not deal with the situation accordingly when he did have his reaction (i.e., she did not follow his written emergency medical plan which is separate from his written school plan). A friend of ours is changing schools within the Hastings Prince Edward County and she finds her daughter in another classroom situation EXACTLY the same as Jesse's, i.e., no "may contains".

If a parent has a problem with a written school plan (most peanut allergic children in the U.S. have written school plans called 504's), they can speak with the teacher about the problem to see if it can be resolved. However, as you know, Mrs. ____ and I are unable to communicate regarding Jesse's peanut allergy or any other issue. When a parent does not have teacher co-operation and/or understanding, it then becomes the principal's role to become involved and have the situation corrected.

I understand that Mrs. G is still checking snacks. I do know that she is quite diligent because I am still being approached by parents whose children have brought in safe snacks that Mrs. G has not allowed in the classroom (i.e., Mr. Christie's Chips Ahoy cookies).

I think what I find particularly disconcerting about this is that Jesse, at just 7, has tried to advocate on behalf of himself in the classroom and has been ignored. It is very important for peanut allergic children/people to learn how to advocate on their own behalf and as each year passes become more responsible for their allergy. I feel Jesse has done more than that.

Because his reaction occurred due to something with the breakfast program or on the way from the breakfast program, I find it commendable that this wee guy even would step back into the Resource Room. He only took the next morning off from the breakfast program, arriving 10 minutes late for school because I had to work the breakfast program and take his sister. I have to say that this is one exceptional child as far as being able to get back up on the horse and try again, especially with something that he does not have to partake in other than the fact that his Mother is running the program and can find no volunteers. I find it amazing and commendable.

As you know, Jesse's written school plan adheres to district school board policy re anaphylaxis and we do have the right for it to be followed to the letter.

Could you please let me know how you are going to handle this situation with Mrs. ____. My greatest fear, in not having contact with her, is that I won't until she ends up killing my child. I am quite serious about this. It is quite obvious that his allergy is not taken seriously by her, even when he is in the throes of an anaphylactic reaction. I have never met a teacher more cold or less compassionate.

Thank-you for your time and consideration. Best wishes, Cindy Spowart Cook

I'll respond *properly* to everyone later - I noticed some really good points that were made. Thank-you all. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Jan 25, 2003

Cindy,

My software does not support hand-grenades. How DID you email that? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Jan 25, 2003

Hi,Cindy have you ever thought about having a teacher come to your house? I know alot of people wouldn't want that. I understand that. I'm not trying to talk anybody into anything. I just thought maybe it might be something to look into. It is working out really good for us. When we were going to put my son into Kindergarden,we realized the school wasn't going to keep him safe. We are in the states, they told us there was no such thing as pa. We got a Child Advocate and made them send a teacher out to the house. He is in the 5th grade and we are still doing this. Will he go to school someday? Proberly, I can't say when yet. We will take it year to year. He is very allergic to taste, touch and smell. This dosn't cost us anything for the teacher. Sometimes there are small costs for field trips, science projects,etc. I don't feel like I'm taking money away from the school because the state has this money for this. The school can't use it on books,computers,saleries or anything like that. The school uses it or loses it. I'm not asking it for my 2 non pa kids,they go to school. I know this isn't for everybody, but maybe some people would want to know about it. He gets 7 hours a week with the teacher. I then pick up the slack. Seven hours one on one is pretty good. They asked me if I thought he needed more hours for this year. I talked it over with his teacher and she thought he didn't. Although, they said as he gets older he would need it. I don't know if we made a good choice over his schooling or not. I was afraid of letting people know about his schooling because I thought I might get alot of criticism. If I'm doing the wrong thing its out of love nothing else. This is a school that when we had a meeting they "allegedly" did a challege on him. We ended up at Children's Hospital. A teacher came to my door on a Saturday totally upset and told me what happened. So this is how my son gets his schooling. We don't shelter our son to much, he makes age appropriate decions for himself. We want him to be ready for a world that isn't ready for pa people. He dosn't even want to go to school yet, when he does we will deal with it. Hope this helps somebody.rj

On Jan 26, 2003

Just a quick note - I checked at the store today. The Kraft handisnacks crackers and cheese DO NOT have a may contain warning on them. I checked both the sets of three and the big box.

This is in Canada.

On Jan 27, 2003

Wow Cindy, and I thought I had trouble with our school. I am hoping as I write this that the teacher in question has been bopped on the head with a magic PA awareness wand and now "get's it"!

It truly amazes me time and again how stressful this allergy can be because it never seems to let up does it?

Your one saving grace is the fact that you have a Principal who seems to be onside with you. What I would question is the fact that the the Principal has not "acted" in her role as the teacher's immediate supervisor. Was she (the teacher) reprimanded in any way with regard to the written school plan not being followed? What steps have been taken by the Principal to ensure that this situation does not happen again.

The teacher seems unable to handle this situation at all, how has she been with other children who have disabilities?

I wish I had all the answers Cindy but you might consider mentioning to the Principal that Peanut Allergies are considered a "hidden disability" by the Ontario Human Rights Commission and as per the advice I was given by the OHRC, if Jesse is in an unsafe situation and the school refuses to act, you can file a formal complaint with the OHRC.

Seems like a drastic step but given the situation and all the stress it is continuing to create for not only you but also Jesse, maybe it's the next logical step. Just my opinion, maybe someone else can come up with some more creative ideas. I really hope that things have improved for you guys.

Take care,

Katiee

On Jan 27, 2003

Finally, I feel as though I can answer everyone *properly*.

Lam, thank-you. I think taking it up the ladder might actually hurt the situation but the superintendent continues to be copied on any e-mail that I do send to the principal re the situation now. So, he is aware but hasn't come out and called me or anything.

MommaBear, thank-you. I do think we have advocates here if you are having difficulties with your child's school. I could check one out (as long as they're free [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img] ).

becca, I was really going to take the "may contain" clause out of Jesse's written school plan until he had the anaphylactic reaction at the school last month. Now I think it is best for it to stay in the for the rest of this year. It would have been confusing to do mid-year but I was willing to do it if it would ease confusion and tension. Thank-you for your ideas though.

rilira, no beautiful stationery? Just absolutely chic Christmas cards (of which I did not receive one this year [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] )! How do you file a formal complaint with the district against a teacher? What do you say? What timing is best? Like should I do it now or wait until the school year is ended? Could filing the complaint actually make things worse for Jesse in his classroom? I can contact my lawyer and see what the process is and what he thinks, not a problem.

Thank-you for your words, they gave me courage. I think what I liked was that perhas the teacher won't discriminate against the next child. If I fight or continue to fight, it may not necessarily benefit Jesse, but it may the next PA child. That's important and always has been to me.

Also, yes, Jesse has found out at 6, now just 7, that even teachers aren't perfect and can be downright mean. I remember my Grade 2 teacher, Mrs. W. I remember seeing her years later, when I was in Grade 6. She was divorced and smoked cigarettes. My soul, I was heartbreaken [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/eek.gif[/img]

California Mom, thank-you for sharing your experience. Yes, I love those husbands that feel we shouldn't make waves [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] I have one myself although when he's the one that wants to make them it's a totally different story. AH!

MommaBear, do you think my e-mail was too harsh? See, I see it as firm, but if other people, like yourself, see it as something else, that may be why Jesse's teacher considers them harrassment.

tiredmommy, thank-you. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] I checked the Kraft snacks yesterday (and posted here under Manufacturers) and there was no warning on them. I am quite confused [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/confused.gif[/img] because as I was checking the labeling on the cheese ones I was also handling pb ones by mistake. I have e-mailed Kraft with very detailed questions about their labeling and if the product is made in a different facility. I'll post the answer probably in this thread as well as in the manufacturers thread. Thank-you for checking though and also thank-you for posting the information. You can see now why my last e-mail may be problematic to me.

Many thanks to everyone and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Jan 27, 2003

Katiee, thank-you, we were posting at the same time. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] (that great minds thing). You are absolutely correct about the principal. If she is on my *side*, why haven't things really changed all that much? Good advice you gave me, thank-you.

rj, I have never heard of the situation whereby a teacher can come into your home. I really prefer Jesse in the school setting simply because it is his fourth year in school and we have NEVER had the difficulties we have had this year [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Jan 27, 2003

E-mail I just sent to the principal:-

Dear Mrs. L: Hello! Further to my e-mail of Saturday morning, I contacted Kraft Canada via e-mail. I am still waiting for an answer. However, yesterday, when I was in Pharmaplus I did check the Kraft pre-packaged process cheese and crackers and it did NOT have a warning label on it (i.e., "may contain", "made in"). Of course, this does not mean that they are not "may contain" but Kraft is a highly trustworthy company that usually labels well. While checking the process cheese packages, I was also handling peanut butter ones.

At any rate, I called Kraft Canada to-day and got the following response from them (this has been posted on a discussion board for other peanut allergic parents, so may not read like something I would write to you):-

I called Kraft Canada to-day at 416-441-5161 and spoke with CSR Jeannie. She advised me that the pre-packaged processed cheese with crackers were made on a peanut free line in a peanut free facility. She also said that if there was any chance of cross-contamination, it would be labeled accordingly.

I found it interesting that she said the line was peanut free and then went on to say that the facility was peanut free.

So, I asked, if the facility is peanut free, doesn't that mean ALL of the lines are peanut free to which she answered yes.

This was the answer I got to-day from Kraft Canada and if we go by what CSR's tell us, it would appear that this product is safe.

I am still awaiting an answer to my e-mail though. Let's see if it differs.

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

At any rate, unless the e-mail from Kraft Canada differs, it would *appear* that the Kraft pre-packaged process cheese and crackers are safe for the peanut free classroom. As we have discussed in the past, Cheese Nips and Ritz are not okay, and the store brand ones, except for A&P's Equality brand are also not okay (although they are not labeled as being "may contain").

My apologies. I was glad, however, that I was able to follow-up on the product fairly quickly.

Best wishes, Cindy Spowart Cook

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

On Jan 27, 2003

Cindy...........

I liked your email. Genuinely. oh............ifyoucouldseetheonesIhanddelivered.............. They must have struck a chord, since the school usually replied with certified mail. LOL. I just couldn't find the little green grenade on my toolbar...................

rj..........

Side note: I read with interest your comments on a "challenge" apparently (if I read right) by the school? My son, early in our attempts to ensure our son was in a safe envronment, was separated from his class at lunch. He was placed at a desk in the hall to eat. I was informed my son could not be "airborne allergic" since a girl with a peanut butter sandwich had eaten lunch with him earlier in the week. ??????????????????????????????????????. Without my permission or knowledge, and against our recommendations. How convienient. Since when did they start practicing medicine in the school halls? I made sure (at a taped 504 meeting) the district lawyer could appreciate the ramifications such a practice could have.

I don't think your situation is unusual.(Regarding home tutoring). To me, it would be the natural progression. IE: Medical advise dictates one thing, the school district claims the accommodations are not "reasonable", you are entitled to a free and "appropriate" public education (at least that is my understanding of FAPE in the States. If "appropriate" is a home tutor.................

The principal at the public school my son attended kept suggesting the PA issue would best be handled through my "homeschooling" our child. She also did not deny this in the presence of the district's attorney. Well, by virtue of her title as an professional educator of sorts, the thought of taking her "opinion" to task and pursuing the district for a home tutor did cross my mind. I am not an teacher by profession, and even if I was, I would find it hard to believe a school district could force me to ***personally*** educate my child at home. I was actually impressed and surprised someone was able to accomplish this through a school district (and as I understand it, I am assuming the PA was the only causation the district justified the use of home tutoring for? Please correct me if there were other factors involved). My compliments to you!

However, I have a 3 year old who will, God willing, be attending school with his brother in the future. I also harbored much disdain for adults who went out of their way to villify our attempts as parents and professionals to protect our child's life with reasonable accomodations. Why on earth would I allow them into my home? (Please understand this is no commentary on you and your situation, but just my feelings about our own personal experience.)

Once again, my feelings only as a mother, and not advice in any form. I am not an educational expert, I am not a lawyer, and I am not a physician.

On Jan 28, 2003

Raising for Laurensmom

On Jan 28, 2003

MommaBear, I understand what you are saying. As I said earlier this isn't for everyone. I thought this information might be helpful to someone wanting to home-school. Since, the teacher comes 4 or 5 days a week this might be a pretty good arrangement to some. I don't know if you meant this literally about coming into my house. Trust me they are nowhere around my child. They are no longer employed at this district. Certainly, they are not making decisions concerning my child. The teacher that comes to the house is wonderful. She had nothing to do with the incident. The new team thankfully seems to have my sons best interest at heart. We'll see. The next IEP meeting is in May. I think we'll work together great. Hopefully, my son will be safely school bound soon, too. You guys give me hope that schools will figure it out one day. rj

On Aug 6, 2003

Simply re-raising for Ginger to see if it helps her with her decision re "may contains".

An up-date, but not a complete one, just a couple of bits. In the midst of this thread, on December 12th actually, Jesse had an anaphylactic reaction to residue within the school, not his peanut free classroom.

With only three weeks to review his written school plan (posted here on the board), I am going to contact some PA Moms that I respect really well because my gut is really telling me to keep the "may contain" clause in regardless of the difficulty I had this year. As I have posted ad nauseum on this board, we had the NO "may contain" clause for THREE YEARS and it worked well!

That's my wee bit of an up-date, but suffice to say it continued to be the Year from He** right up until the last day of school (June 27th) although his teacher did lighten up for some reason (I think after I physically avoided her and stopped e-mailing her for quite a few months).

Ginger, hope this helps. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

Related