Segregated Allergy Classrooms- Is this fair?

Posted on: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 6:31am
ZeniaD's picture
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Joined: 01/26/2006 - 09:00

Hi,
I'm am new to this board.
Both my 8 year old Daughter and 2 year son were diagnosed with life threatening nut allergies over the summer ( my son is allergic to peanuts & has severe contact dairy allergies as well and my daughter is allergic to tree nuts).
My situation is this.
My daughter's school segregates all the children with food allergies into 1 or 2 classes every year ( since she was only diagnosed in the summer - she wasn't placed in that class for this year).
Now I am sure it must make some things easier (no peanut rules etc) - but these kids don't even have the same food allergies.
The children in the segregated class have wheat, dairy, tree nuts, & peanuts in the class as well as few others I probably am unaware of.
Isn't this a terrible idea though?
These children aren't allowed near the other kids in the school.
It also seems like it would be even harder to ban "threatening" foods from the classroom when you have a vast array of food allergies in there.
My daughter is devasted that they want to place her in this classroom next year- she doesn't want to be separated from her friends.
And she is terrified that she is going to be made to use the antibacterial soap and hand gel and wipes which is used in the classroom to keep nut oils down to a minimum and which she is highly allergic to - (after only one use her hands start to blister, crack and bleed).
I understand the benefits, but I don't think this is the answer.
I'm not even sure it is legal to segregate the allergy kids in to one group.
Wouldn't it be dangerous to fill a room with 22 children with conflicting food allergies and make only one person responsible for them?

I feel overwhelmed with my two with conflicting food allergies - I can't imagine 22!
I'm no stranger to food allergies, I myself have life threatening allergies to Aspartame ( nutrasweet) and cherries.

Does anyone else live in a community where they do this?

Thanks for any feedback.
Z.

Posted on: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 6:50am
Lori Anne's picture
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Joined: 07/13/2005 - 09:00

You asked if other towns do this. I just registered my dd for kindergarten and they just told me that there is a "peanut free kindergarten class" I thought, "Oh, good" when they told me because I was just thinking about it from the viewpoint of dd's safety. But after reading your post, I don't really know how I feel about this right now (in our town--your situation seems different). I don't think our town does this for every grade, but I don't think so. They just told me that they currently have one kindergarten class that is peanut free (and they didn't say that all kids with allergies were in this class).
O.K.***I just read your other posts. Had no clue this is what you meant. Keeping the kids totally separated 'til middle school? I would have a problem with that and I know it would make my dd very sad.
[This message has been edited by Lori Anne (edited January 26, 2006).]

Posted on: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 6:54am
Momcat's picture
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Joined: 03/15/2005 - 09:00

What do you mean when you say that the allergic kids are not allowed near the other kids?
Cathy
------------------
Mom to 6 1/2 yr old PA/TNA daughter and 3 yr old son who is allergic to eggs.

Posted on: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 7:04am
synthia's picture
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Joined: 10/05/2002 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by Momcat:
[b]What do you mean when you say that the allergic kids are not allowed near the other kids?
Cathy
[/b]
I would like to repeat that as well,the ? that is.I think *I* know what you mean.
Brings something to mind in my area.
------------------
Love this site
Synthia

Posted on: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 7:39am
Greenlady's picture
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Joined: 06/30/2004 - 09:00

I'm no expert, but this sounds illegal. I would investigate further.

Posted on: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 7:49am
ZeniaD's picture
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Joined: 01/26/2006 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by synthia:
[b] Quote:Originally posted by Momcat:
[b]What do you mean when you say that the allergic kids are not allowed near the other kids?
Cathy
[/b]
I would like to repeat that as well,the ? that is.I think *I* know what you mean.
Brings something to mind in my area.
[/b]
Well there are currently 12 classes of approx 22 children each in my daughter's grade. Two of these are designated for "allergy kids" - as they are referred to.
The two "allergy Kids" classes eat lunch together ahead of the other classes( to minimize their exposure to other kid's lunches) then they have recess first - to minimize their exposure to oils from other kids' hand on the playground equipment.
They have no contact with other classes.
While the school would never say "Don't get near the allergy kids!" They have created a situation where these kids will never meet most of their peers until they reach Middle School and the segregated classes end.
I think that would e awfully traumatic for the 30-40 kids who have spent their elementary years only exposed to each to other to suddenly be dumped into the general population of 250 plus kids in their grade and end up in classes where it likely they won't know a soul.
These policies were put into place several years ago, by moms who begged for them, but I just don't think it is right. I worked for a Civil Rights law firm for several years and I can't believe this school system hasn't been hit with a "reasonable accommodations" lawsuit.

Posted on: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 8:09am
Gail W's picture
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Joined: 12/06/2001 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by ZeniaD:
[b] These policies were put into place several years ago, by moms who begged for them, but I just don't think it is right. [/b]
Are you sure this is a "policy"? If it is, you should ask for a copy of the policy. I'd love to see that in writing. There will be legal references on a school board policy.
Or is segregating the children with food allergies from their non-disabled peers 'just' their 'practice'? Do you have the option of having your child not placed in one of the "allergy" classes? Have you asked for your child to be placed in one of the other classes?
Quote:Originally posted by ZeniaD:
[b]I worked for a Civil Rights law firm for several years and I can't believe this school system hasn't been hit with a "reasonable accommodations" lawsuit. [/b]
Girl, you've got access to a gold mine! Can you just call and run this scenario by one of the attorneys you worked with and see what they think?
This seems like blatant discrimination based on a disability. I'd bet ORC would be all over this.
[This message has been edited by Gail W (edited January 26, 2006).]

Posted on: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 8:30am
synthia's picture
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Joined: 10/05/2002 - 09:00

Sorry didnot want to take this thread *off topic*.
------------------
Love this site
Synthia
[This message has been edited by synthia (edited January 26, 2006).]

Posted on: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 8:47am
qdebbie1's picture
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Joined: 02/10/2005 - 09:00

Life isnt fair.
Segregation is Illegal.
Do they have all the minority children in one classroom.
How about the children who speak spanish better than english.
Maybe a special classroom for kids who are on free/reduced lunch.
No no no. This is not only unfair, its illegal and downright wrong.
I agree with Gail. Ask for it in writing so you can fully "understand"what is going on. Get the "policy" before you really get started on this. This would be textbook fun for OCR.
Your child has a right to an education just like any other child without a "hidden disability". Assert those rights.

Posted on: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 9:32am
Gail W's picture
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Joined: 12/06/2001 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by ZeniaD:
[b] These policies were put into place several years ago, by moms who begged for them, but I just don't think it is right. [/b]
This may have first started as segregation by request/consent. I mean, can a group with a shared gender/race/disability choose, as a group, to be segregated from the general school population? I don't know if that was "legal" (segregation by request), but regardless, it seems discriminatory to establish this as a practice.
This situation is very interesting.

Posted on: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 1:02am
ZeniaD's picture
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Joined: 01/26/2006 - 09:00

I doubt that there is anything in writing about this - the school district's lawyers wouldn't allow it.
I will find out though.
I am really reluctant to broach the topic with the principal though because she is just a very nasty retaliatory person. I expressed concerns to her last about the way the weigh and measure the kids (20 kids , boys & girls in room with a scale and two volunteer parents calling out their height & weight to each other in front of the group). I told her I thought it was strange that parents chaperones on a field trip weren't allowed to have important medical information about the children the were supervising ( who has allergies, diabetes etc.) but they could make the childrens height & weight public information in front of their peers?
Within days my daughter who has never had problems at school before - started having all kinds of problems with her teacher (who is personal friend of the principal).
I know they like to keep all the kids in one because then they don't have train as many teachers on how to handle allergic reactions. To be fair some parents are thrilled that their kids have this safe environment to go to school, and some parents would be downright livid if they thought I was attacking this safe haven. Ultimately, I'm not sure how much safer it can be when all the classes share communal spaces like bathrooms, gyms, the library - which are disinfected like the cafeteria.
I think the original intent was to fill the class with children who had food any allergies so that if certain foods had to be banned from the classroom (namely PB) the parents would be more understanding.
It sounds like so many of you are now fighting to get any cooperation from your schools and our school system went through this years ago and it has evolved into this really strange kind of discrimination which is defended as being the safest option for the children. Maybe it is a "be careful what you ask for" situation.
I'll see what I can find out, but we are looking into other schools - it may be easier than trying to fight the other parents and the school system.

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