What do I do now???

Posted on: Thu, 03/22/2001 - 3:31am
latymom's picture
Joined: 05/21/2000 - 09:00

pI am so sad. I just had a phone call from the preschool my daughter was supposed to go to in the fall and they said they may not want to take her because of her peanut allergy. This is our first experience with rejection because of her allergy and I feel so sick about it. How do I go about finding another a school that will take her? I can't believe that my daughter has to miss out on oppurtunities because of her allergy. What should I say to this school?/p

Posted on: Thu, 03/22/2001 - 4:25am
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

latymom - I know how you feel! Last summer I phoned a preschool to set up an appointment for a tour. I mentioned Cayley's peanut allergy over the phone, and they sounded surprised, but not negative, about it.
When we arrived a few days later for the interview, however, they gently told us they didn't think they could keep Cayley safe.
It turned out the preschool owner had done a lot of research on PA over the internet since our initial phone conversation, and, frankly, it scared the heck out of her.
It took me about 10 minutes or so to explain the methods they could use to help keep Cayley safe. My heart was pounding the entire time, and inside I wanted to cry - this was my first experience with rejection based on PA, as well!! It was nerve-wracking, but somehow I got through the interview successfully, and the owner changed her mind and took Cayley on as a student.
Does your preschool have an outline of the procedures they could implement to help keep your daughter safe? If you explain to them how to do it (whatever your comfort zone is) they might be willing to change their minds. Keep your options open - if they can't stop serving PB as a snack, perhaps ask if they can only do it one day per week, then don't send your daughter that day.
Don't give up!!! I told the owner of Cayley's preschool that she wouldn't be the last PA child they saw (although in 17 years of operation, she was the first) and I was right! There are now 3 PA children enrolled in her preschool - the parents were SO happy that someone else paved the way for them (and that someone was ME!!). [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
Good luck and let us know how this ends up. I really feel for you!

Posted on: Thu, 03/22/2001 - 5:32am
latymom's picture
Joined: 05/21/2000 - 09:00

Thank you Cayley's mom. That's just what I needed to hear. I'm afraid that I may not be able to articulate what I need to say because I get so emotional about the subject. Hopefully I'll be able to keep my emotions contained long enough to get my points across.

Posted on: Thu, 03/22/2001 - 6:42am
EILEEN's picture
Joined: 04/06/1999 - 09:00

I've been there too. My son had his Pre-K admission revoked because of his peanut allergy. I decided to concentrate my efforts on ensuring he got into their Kindergarten and Elementary School (and left him in a pn-free less academic but more TLC environment).
Getting my son accepted for kindergarten took a horrible 14 months. If Cayley's mom approach is unsuccessful, I would retain an attorney. I don't mean to go head-to-head with the school's attorney (unless necessary). I found that the attorney was an essential sounding board and reality check for my raging emotions. He advised me on how to mediate a solution with the school, present necessary accomodations, and instilled in me the necessary confidence I was lacking in the beginning for seeing this through.
My son's successful admission rested on finding "just-the-right" person in the school administration who would listen and help me. I wished I have realized that sooner. Once I found her, everything went through within a few weeks. In addition, the school had decided not to admit any more pa-kids, refused to take back the "closet" pa -kids (those whose parent were not admitting it for fear of reprisals). My battle with the school for my son's admission also affected these other kids. Luckily we prevailed.
Also, the best advise the lawyer gave me was to stay out of court. He told me you want to win this but you have to win this in a way that you can ensure you will have maintained a good working relationship with the people your son will be in contact with on a daily basis. Of course, he/she will also advise you on your rights.
Good Luck.

Posted on: Thu, 03/22/2001 - 7:31am
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

latymom - I was completely surprised by the attitude of Cayley's preschool, since I had assumed from our phone conversation that enrolling her would be OK. Therefore I was really flying by the seat of my pants through the interview, and I barely held it together.
What I would suggest is having something in writing that you can refer to periodically throughout the interview, so you can stay on track. Also, bring someone supportive who can "take over" if your emotions get the better of you.
Explaining to the school that this is doable, in a calm, matter-of-fact way, can be done! For example:
(1) Preschools kids wash their hands before snack time ANYWAY - can they wash their hands after snack, too?
(2) Tables needs to be cleaned after snack ANYWAY, so this precaution is already looked after.
(3) Offer to keep your daughter home on the days PB will be on the menu - one less thing for them AND you to worry about.
(4) Explain that the EpiPen is easy to use, and is effective - Cayley's preschool was under the mistaken impression that NO MATTER WHAT, if she ingested peanut protein, she would die. That is the worst-case scenario, but that's why we supply the school with 2 EpiPens, Benadryl and make sure they are trained in its usage. PA is NOT a death sentence - they need to understand this (but they can't be complacent about it either). They also need to understand that reactions are easy to prevent in the first place:
- no sharing food
- hands washed after snacks
- no crafts involving PB
- no PB products during the days your daughter is attending.
I find schools either extremely over-react to PA - they're too scared to enrol a PA child, or they extremely under-react, and don't consider ANY safety measures. Hopefully you and the school can find some middle ground, and discuss compromises you can each make along the way. And I DON'T mean compromises that would endanger your daughter in any way! I mean, you have to find a place to start, and go from there.
Good luck!
[This message has been edited by Cayley's Mom (edited March 22, 2001).]

Posted on: Thu, 03/22/2001 - 8:36am
Sue's picture
Joined: 02/13/1999 - 09:00

I know this post is long - it's a copy of a letter released by Janet Reno in 1997 - It addresses other disabilities in addition to the PEANUT ALLERGY. I hope this helps you and your child - it is a struggle that you should not have to fight [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
A pre-school or school must allow enrollment of your child unless it does not recieve any federal money - such as religious schools.
They must,also, make "reasonable" accomadations - whatever reasonable is!
Anyway, the US Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division - Janet Reno - released the following back in 1997.
Sue in Sunny Arizona
FOR IMMEDIATE Release CR THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23, 1997 (202) 616-2777 TDD (202) 514-1888
#439: 10-23-97 - Nationwide Child Care Chain Agrees to Provide Services for Children with Disabilities
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Children with serious food allergies, diabetes, and other disabilities will now be able to attend
daycare at centers across the country under an agreement reached today between the nation's second largest child care provider and the Justice Department.
According to the agreement, La Petite Academy, Inc., which operates more than 750 day care centers nationwide, will change
its policies to ensure that children with disabilities can be cared for appropriately at its facilities. The agreement resolves several complaints filed with the Justice Department under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
"Quality child care is essential for all working parents," said Attorney General Janet Reno. "Today's agreement will ensure
that families of children with disabilities will not have to face additional obstacles when seeking daycare."
A major portion of the agreement requires that daycare staff administer epinephrine, a form of adrenaline, to those children who experience life-threatening allergic reactions to certain foods, such as peanuts, or bee stings. If authorized by parents and a physician, La Petite staff will use a small pen-like device (sold as Epipen, Jr., or under other names) that carries a pre- measured dose of epinephrine to alleviate a reaction. The staff person simply removes a safety cap and presses the pen against the thigh of the child, discharging the epinephrine.
Under the agreement La Petite will also:
* implement a policy to provide finger prick tests to measure the blood glucose levels of children with diabetes;
* ensure that staff at two centers help children with mobility impairments gain access to toilets, and make accessibility
improvements at another facility; and,
* pay $55,000 to children whose parents claimed that their children could not attend La Petite unless the chain modified its policies.
During the Justice Department investigation into the administration of epinephrine, La Petite voluntarily requested
technical assistance concerning the monitoring of blood glucose levels for children with diabetes. The newly-adopted policy is modeled on an August 1996 agreement between the Justice Department and KinderCare, the nation's largest child care
It is estimated that one to three percent of school children nationwide have severe allergies that may require administration of epinephrine and that more than 100,000 children under the age
of 18 have diabetes.
"By adopting these new policies, La Petite Academy is providing more opportunities for children with isabilities,"
added Reno.
Under the policies announced today, La Petite is not liable for the care of children with diabetes or severe allergies as
long as it takes reasonable care when following written orders from a child's physician and parents. Parents will be required to provide any special equipment and sign an authorization form every six months.
The Department also released a new publication today entitled, "Commonly Asked Questions About Child Care Centers and
the ADA". Individuals interested in abtaining a copy of this publication or in learning more about the ADA can call the
Department's toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TDD).
The Department also sponsors an ADA Home
Page on The World Wide Web. The Internet address is:
[This message has been edited by Sue (edited March 22, 2001).]

Posted on: Thu, 03/22/2001 - 10:30am
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Thank you Sue - I was searching for the article you just retyped. The whole text is part of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). I had to pull out that document detailing La Petite's case for my son's upcoming school. They were giving me the "don't know if we can accommodate him here" stuff too.
Even though my son's school is private - it is not religious in any way. It does not accept any state or federal funding, yet it does have to comply with the ADA. What it does NOT have to do is comply with Section 504 or create an IEP.
Thanks again for having this info at the tip of your fingers.

Posted on: Thu, 03/22/2001 - 11:17am
EILEEN's picture
Joined: 04/06/1999 - 09:00

Here's a link to the Dept of Justice
"Commonly Asked Questions on the ADA and Child Care"
The highest US court to decide on the rights of a peanut-allergic child was the Eight Circuit in 1999.
Unfortunately the decision went against the rights of the pa-child and supported the day care center refusing to provide her with services after she had two allergic reactions on site. After the court's decision a subsequent CAP-RAST test for pa was negative, and Megan's parents decided to drop the case otherwise it may have reached the Supreme Court. The court considered/ruled that the child's peanut allergy was not a disability under the ADA. (FAN, June-July, 1999, p11).
You can find the court ruling
(NO. 98-2019EA) at
[url="http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=search&case=/data2/circs/8th/982019p.html"]http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=search&case=/data2/circ s/8th/982019p.html[/url]
[This message has been edited by EILEEN (edited March 22, 2001).]

Posted on: Thu, 03/22/2001 - 3:01pm
Sue's picture
Joined: 02/13/1999 - 09:00

Thanks for bringing up the Megan case again - I had forgotten about that subject - not sure why. I found an informative post on the board (from days gone by) written by LauraP on the subject.
Rather than suggesting than everyone that is interested in it "do a search" I am copying it here. LauraP has some good insight and some good advice on avoiding the same problem Megan's mom had in court.
Hi everyone. I'm an attorney and mom of a peanut allergic child. Here's my take on this case. The PIVOTAL question was whether Megan's allergy substantially limited HER ability to eat and breathe. The court went on further to say this is AN INDIVIDUAL AND FACT SPECIFIC INQUIRY. You know what that means? It means that every peanut allergic child is different. It means that YOUR peanut allergic child might have had a different decision on this appeal. The court went further to say that A.D.A. didn't apply to Megan because her physician said the allergy only impacted her life "a little bit". She had no other food allergies either. The dissenting opinion is encouraging, however. Don't let this one opinion dash your hopes of A.D.A. applying to your child. Some peanut allergic children are allergic to other foods as well. Megan wasn't. Some are smell sensitive. Megan wasn't.
If your child is in or planning to enter a private day care or private school, I suggest you see if there's an American's With Disabilities Act coalition in your state, or a similar organization to help citizens understand and uphold the act. There is one in my state, Connecticut. They were one of the first places I turned when I found out my child was food allergic four years ago. They steered me in the right direction.
I posted a lengthy post under "schools" on 504 and IDEA. A day care or private school should be handled in a manner similar to public schools. I recommend you send a formal letter to the daycare detailing your child's food allergy and consequences of exposure. In light of the Land case, it would probably be a good idea to accompany your initial letter with a note from your child's allergist really detailing the severity of the allergy - have him use in his letter the buzz words "substantially affects this child's cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal and skin systems" or similar language. Tell the day care or private school that your child is disabled under A.D.A. (They may not all be aware of this case. Even if they are, it does not relate to your INDIVIDUAL CHILD). I'm sure not all daycares and private schools are as problematic or insensitive as Baptist was. You may actually be able to enatct a pretty good food allergy management plan for your child, and the daycare or school may be very cooperative.
In the event you run into trouble or they give you problems, you can do one of the following:
1. Try a different daycare or private school which is more sensitive to the issue;
2. Enroll your child in public school if possible (and get the protection afforded under 504 or IDEA, if applicable to your child); or
3. File a complaint against the offending facility. To do this, you should contact the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. Civil Rights Division.

Posted on: Fri, 03/23/2001 - 6:12am
EILEEN's picture
Joined: 04/06/1999 - 09:00

Sue, thanks for the analysis I didn't see it the first time round and I love your logic.
We do seem in a Catch 22 situation, we have to convince schools that it is relatively easy to make reasonable accomodations (by extending basic hygeneic principals) but also have to make them appear "disabled" when pa-folk are well and fully-functioning as long as peanuts aren't around. Since the severity of reactions cannot be predicted at present it is hard to identify the more "disabled." Since everything comes down to the allocation of limited resources that could start pitting pa-parents against pa-parents.
I tend to think of schools etc who are reluctant to accept pa kids as falling into "Please persuade me" or the "You're going to have to make me" groups; I hope Latymom that you are dealing with the former.
Personally I found the DoJ of limited help since the only option they offered me was to file a complaint (which they would have looked into). Even though I was dealing with the "You're going to have to make me" group, I wanted to find some why of exerting pressure without declaring war and so mediate a solution (which I did eventually). I think that is where the American's With Disabilities Act coalitions can help if Laymom has one in her state.
[This message has been edited by EILEEN (edited March 23, 2001).]

Posted on: Sun, 03/25/2001 - 1:58am
latymom's picture
Joined: 05/21/2000 - 09:00

Thank you all so much for your feedback. It sure helps to know there is support here. There are so many twists and turns in life, and this situation happens to be an example of this....The day after this depressing phone call, I got on the phone and called another school that I was recommended. Because she was already filled up she led me to another school, in which there is already a PA child in care. The mother of this boy called me and we talked for about an hour about everything....(how she had faced rejection from other schools, how wondeful this school is where her boy is going, about the town I'm moving to etc.) Anyway, I came out of it feeling great! Not only was I speaking to someone who knows exactly where I'm coming from but she was also giving a fantastic referral for the school I'm interested in sending my daughter to. She also told me that the original school I thought was so great, had had a bad experience with a PA child that's why they were so hestitant to take my daughter. So, it looks like things really did turn out for the best. Thanks again to everyone for the shoulder and advice [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]


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