Last year when my son was in kindergarten he had to sit outside the lunchroom everytime something was on the menu that the school felt was questionable. He broke out in hives because another child touched him after he had eaten a pbj. Then during a school wide function the whole school ate pbj and we had to leave after lunch for fear of him touching something after another child had eaten the pbj. I was told by one of the staff "you have his epi pen just use it." Whatever! So I started on a quest to get the school to remove pbj from the menu. I was passed from one person to the next because no one knew what to do. Finally I went to the School Superintendent. He met with me and said we should try and get him under the 504. He was approved and when I left I had comfort that things would be different. Well I was wrong, way wrong. They set up a peanut free table, which to me just puts him up there for everybody to point at. The staff and everyone who would interact with my child was trained to recognize anaphylaxis and how to use an epi-pen. This was also a state law enacted last year for all schools who have a child with LTFA. I also think everyone who participated resents this. They put a clause in the 504 that on days that pbj, or anything that may contain nuts or processed on the same machinery, his class would be served an alternative lunch in his classroom. Well they would not do this. The 504 coordinator said she made a mistake by putting that in there and asked if it could come out so that we would stop arguing over it. It was also put in the 504 that no peanut products or anything that may contains or processed on the same machinery would be allowed in the classroom or distributed by the teacher. Well they do not follow that either. One day there were cupcakes with traces of walnuts and walnut oil allowed and my son had to sit with everyone and when they got my sons safe snack out they had icing all over there hands and it was all over the inside and outside of the bag. When I said something about it the teacher acted as if she was offended. Every class party has cupcakes and I know they have traces of nuts in them, but they are served anyway. Just the other day all the whole class was given a hershey kiss for a memory prompt because of a story they were reading. They were told to take it home and eat it. But instead of trying to give my son some other wrapped candy for a memory prompt they asked him about it and he said he understood that he could not have it. But when he got home he told me about it and was very sad. So his memory will be that everyone else had a hershey kiss and he did not get anything. When I asked the teacher about it she gave me this big long speech about the story and challenges the people in the story had to face. So I politely told her that my son was just like that story and he faced challenges too. I said you could have maybe given him a wrapped candy out of his safe snack bag so he would not feel left out. So I went to the principal and asked her about it. I told her that it seemed that the more I pushed for them to be fair towards them the madder the teachers got. She said I answered my own question. She said that her staff felt like I was being nit picky and should just focus on the fact they were keeping him safe. I asked her why they could not have taken a few minutes to email me and tell me what was going on in the class and see if I could come up with an alternative. She said they did not have time to do that. I told her I thought that was what a 504 was for. I thought he would be on level playing field with everyone else. She said that I needed to face it that he would never be on a level playing field. What am I missing? I have read about 504's, the American Rehibilation Act and looked at the Office of Civil Rights website. I have read posts on this website and others. Am I totally missing the point? Am I just crazy. I feel awful. I do not what to do. There are so many other things that have happened but I have written too much already. Please will someone help me understand.
On Jan 21, 2008
[b]They set up a peanut free table, which to me just puts him up there for everybody to point at.[/b]
Um, you are correct. The school cannot force anyone to sit at a table just because of their disability.
[b]They put a clause in the 504 that on days that pbj, or anything that may contain nuts or processed on the same machinery, his class would be served an alternative lunch in his classroom. Well they would not do this.[/b]
Violation number one.
[b]It was also put in the 504 that no peanut products or anything that may contains or processed on the same machinery would be allowed in the classroom or distributed by the teacher. Well they do not follow that either.[/b]
Violation number two.
Failing again and again to provide an accomodation with a 504 is a violation, no matter [i]who[/i] wants it out of the 504. The 504 was agreed upon, no? Signed by all in attendance, no? All accomodations within were discussed, and agreed upon.
[b]When I said something about it the teacher acted as if she was offended.[/b]
Who cares. Your job is not to please the teacher. Your job is to see to it that your child is protected. Your teachers job is that as well...apparently she doesn't care.
[b]But instead of trying to give my son some other wrapped candy for a memory prompt they asked him about it and he said he understood that he could not have it.[/b]
Not giving a child a reward for a memory prompt strictly because of his food allergy is discrimination and you need to view it as such. Heck, the worthless teacher didn't even [i]attempt[/i] to make it right for him. Do they ask other children if they do not want to receive rewards based on their hair color, skin color, if they have diabetes? She treated your son differently solely because of this food allergy and your son felt the brunt of her thoughtlessness and was not able to participate as others did with this school sanctioned, teacher written, learning opportunity. Reeks of discrimination, just reeks.
[b]But when he got home he told me about it and was very sad. So his memory will be that everyone else had a hershey kiss and he did not get anything.[/b]
[b]So I went to the principal and asked her about it. I told her that it seemed that the more I pushed for them to be fair towards them the madder the teachers got. She said I answered my own question.[/b]
Does she care to put that one in writing?? The OCR would be all over that one. Your child has a 504 for gosh sakes. And this is how they behave? They have shown very little regard for your child if they will go to NO attempt to include him and then retaliate against you (with anger) for seeking inclusion for him.
[b]She said that her staff felt like I was being nit picky and should just focus on the fact they were keeping him safe.[/b]
Safe? Really? If they call repeatedly violating a 504 whose entire purpose is to provide needed accomdations for him to be able to fully participate in a safe learning environment, [i]'keeping him safe'[/i], well then, I'm speechless.
[b]I asked her why they could not have taken a few minutes to email me and tell me what was going on in the class and see if I could come up with an alternative. [i]She said they did not have time to do that.[/i][/b]
No time, huh. Again, how little they care for your child. Again, willfull discrimination.
[b] I told her I thought that was what a 504 was for.[/b]
You are right.
[b]She said that I needed to face it that he would never be on a level playing field.[/b]
At this point in the game, your son is unfortunately not even at the game let alone on the field.
So are you crazy? Not at all. You sought the 504, one person (the super.) thought he needed him under 504 protections. You got the 504, great. Now, many think the next part follows--getting your school to comply. Many find their school cares and do right by the needed accomodations. Others will find that the school fights tooth and nail. Your sons school is rotten. Rotten. The good thing is that you have the 504. Along with that paper comes legal responsibilities for your school. Your school may not be aware of what they signed up for. Believe it or not, you have the power to turn it around. Is it easy? No. It can very well be awful. Your in good company if you feel like a parent with a child who no one really cares about, if you sit and think hard enough. It stinks.
I will tell you one thing, you'd better start making a list of times and dates of violations. Start emailing them your requests and make them email you back with their ludicrous responses. You need the paper trail if you're going to proceed. I'd love to help you further. Will you private message me here on the board? I have question for you, but I don't really want to post if publicly.
I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. It is just awful what they are doing to your son. I know it is a daily struggle.
On Jan 22, 2008
Thank you for responding. I tried to pm you but I could not get it to work. I will try again. I would be glad to talk with you privately. I do need help. My friends (who do not have children with LFTA) think I should just be grateful. They think I am crazy and that if I keep pushing they will keep mistreating my child and he will hate me. You are right about the paper trail. I do write everything down and dates. I could not sleep tonight so I was doing exactly that.
On Jan 22, 2008
I have some good info about 504 plans, I was successful in getting one for my son this year. It has made a world of difference. I can email you some stuff I have that might help you!
On Jan 22, 2008
Thanks for replying. Please send me whatever you have. My email address is [email]firstname.lastname@example.org[/email]. I guess I am scared that if I push the issue that I will make things worse for my son. There is another pa child at school and his mother is riding my coat tails. She lets me lead then see what happens. The school seems to be more accomodating for her and her son, meaning that the school just makes the extra effort to make sure he is included. For instance they only allow snacks he can have. Things seemed to be better last year when we did not have a 504. Now because he has it, they think I am pushy because I try to make them follow it. I do not know what to do I just want to cry. Does your child sit at a peanut free table? Is it just a table off by itself where 2 more kids can sit with your child or is it a whole long lunch table. Again, thanks to everyone who has responded. I have comfort that there are other parents out there like me. My husband seems to be my only ally.
On Jan 25, 2008
In our school, we do have a peanut free table. Other staff in the lunchroom, and I, check the lunches every day of the kids that want to eat at that table. It is a long table just like the other ones, but it has a plastic red and white checked table cloth on it. This is the way the kids know it is the allergy free table. Our peanut/tree nut allergic kids sit there, and so does anyone else who wants to, provided their lunches are safe. This accomodation was agreed to by their moms, and believe me, they don't feel singled out (there are 2 of them)! This table is as full as the others! I don't know what other option there could be, really. We don't have a nut free school. This has worked out great so far. Next year will be new challenges, because we will have a hot lunch program. But we are preparing for it now.
You should definitely follow up with the Office for Civil Rights.
On Jan 26, 2008
My child sits with other children at a regular lunch table...usually sitting at the end of the table at a known location. As the years go on, I will let the seating arrangement be more flexible. There is to be a visual inspection of lunches surrounding my child. It has worked out very well for us. My child is not necessarily contact sensitive (at this point), but with the accomodations we have, I am pleased. I know alot of people are advocates for the peanut free table, but for me personally, I see it as a negative, at least for my child.
I just want to point out, that the school cannot MAKE your child sit at any one location just because he or she has a food allergy. That would be discrimination. If it's what works for you and your child, and you are comfortable with it, then that is great! :)
On Jan 26, 2008
I hope the other parent with a PA child, isn't putting pressure on you to succeed, or to get a specific accomodation. This battle can be hard enough without added pressures.
If the end result is that it makes it better for others down the road, then great. But don't feel badly about focusing on your child only. Do what's right for [i]him[/i]....I know you will :) .
On Jan 28, 2008
No, the other mom is not putting pressure on me. She just kind of waits and sees how things are going. She is working with me to get the school board to remove pbj from the school menu. She is not as pushy as me. She tells others I have paved the way and she wants to help. I think sometimes the school thinks I am crazy because she is a little more laid back than me. Everyone's comfort level is different. When it comes to others taking the responsibility of doing what is right for my child with LTFA, my comfort level is low. That is just me though. Thanks for the support. It is so great that I can talk with and discuss issues like this with other parents who really get it. My friends who do not have children with LTFA just don't get it. Even some of my family members just don't get it. People who are not directly affected by it just don't understand.
On Jan 29, 2008
You're right...a LOT of people just don't understand until they live it.