Where do I start?

Publish date:
Updated on

I have a 3rd grader and kindergartner I've homeschooled from the beginning due to PAs. Well, last year I called the school and they are willing to keep our children in the office to eat. After much thought, MUCH discussion, we are willing to do this. Our children are willing to do it. My oldest WANTS to PS and not HS this year. Our only requests willb e that all students wash hands upon returning to class and that my children wear their epipens on their person, and that their teachers be instructed on epipen use. I would send letters home to all the students in the class, and have it placed in the weekly newsletter a friendly reminder about their allergies and how other parents can help (having children wash hands when finished eating breakfast and lunch)

What more do I need? I intend on calling the school next week to start the process, and hope to have this go as smoothly as possible for everyone involved. I don't want to make the school go peanut free, but I want to keep my children as safe as possible. I figure if the school resists this in any way, then I will play hardball and push harder. But if they will comply with these simple requests, and not infringe on anyone else too much, then hopefully this can go smooth for us all.

Has anyone had this process go EASY? I read these boards and most the reason I've homeschooled is because of the horror stories I read here. And I think that the more I try to change or force, the harder it'll be resisted by the school. It's quite terrifying to read these things.

I do want an action plan written for what to do if they do come in contact and need emergency care (ie, epis and 911, where epis are kept)

Can anyone help me?

On Jul 27, 2007

I should add that they do not want to go peanut free, and I do plan on sending lunch everyday regardless because of may contain issues.

I guess I had to weigh the peanut free issue, and it could be a years long battle. And one I do not wish to fight.

On Jul 27, 2007

Just some food for thought...

How do you know that the office is peanut free? Who will be supervising the office during lunchtime? Will that person be trained? Will that person be eating peanut products for lunch in your child's presence? Will someone have to clean a table for your child before he starts eating?

How do you know that some well-meaning person won't offer your kids unsafe food?

Go to [url="http://www.allergysupport.org"]www.allergysupport.org[/url] and look at the 504 plan outline there. It will give you a lot of things to think about.

Until you see how the school really runs and what's going on there day to day, it's hard to grasp the level of detail and vigilance that will be necessary.

I'm not trying to discourage you from trying public school. Both of my kids are attending public school and my daughter is contact reactive to peanuts--so it can be done, and anyone who wants to go has the right to attend safely.

In my experience with public schools, everything has to be spelled out very clearly. You need to give them a specific plan for managing and treating your children's allergies.

I would also give serious thought to how your kids can safely enjoy lunch with their classmates. Many of us have successfully implemented peanut free tables or zones so our kids can eat with friends who are also having safe food.


------------------ Mom to 8 yr old PA/TNA daughter and 4 yr old son who is allergic to eggs.

On Jul 27, 2007

Ok, well, we have also thought about peanut free tables. My daughters are both contact reative as well. So how does a peanut free table work? I'm printing out that plan you showed me to, and my husband and I will think this through a little further.

I guess I'm just afraid to push the school too hard because if they resist, then what? Who do I call to help me? Do I gather materials myself and hope they comply? I have zero dollars to hire an attorney. My sister works in public health care and is pushing us into getting the public education our children are entitled, and she is right, they deserve what every other kid has, I just don't have any clue on how to make that happen.

I'm sitting here feeling so overwhelmed with the responsibility I have to make this happen. BUt yet, I want them to get a public education. Homeschooling is a wonderful thing if it works for your family, and I just haven't been able to make it *work* just right. My oldest child is very headstrong and it's starting to take a toll on our family.

Thank you for any and all advice. I appreciate what I can get.

On Jul 27, 2007

Do you really want them eating in the office? Public Schools need to make reasonable accommodation -- maybe a peanut free table would be a better way for the kids to have a social time at lunch and not feel they are being singled out?

------------------ mom to Ari(7) - severe nut allergies, asthma, you name it - and Maya (10), mild excema

On Jul 27, 2007

I'm sorry to be so quizzical but I read the posts here and can't make sense of them. But my husband and I weret alking and we'd feel better about having a 504 plan in place, but how does that happen? Do I write up what we want, have a doctor sign off on it (they have an allergist and a family doctor willing to do so) and the school then will accept or deny it or parts of it? Is this the procedure.

I guess I just don't know how to get the ball rolling is all. I see alot of info I need in writing in that sample 504 and am willing to go the distance to make sure my children are safe, I just don't want to go completely peanut free, but I don't exactly want them segregated either. Ah, so confused.

On Jul 27, 2007

Don't worry Julie! One step at at time [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] There are many people here who have been exactly where you are now.

The way it works is that you get a letter from the allergist (a separate one for each child) stating that the child has a life-threatening allergy to peanuts. The letter should explain what anaphylaxis is and what precautions must be taken (e.g. no peanuts in the classroom, all kids washing their hands before returning to class, peanut-free table in lunchroom, close supervision by adults trained to use epipen.)

You take this letter to the school and request "a Section 504 evaluation" for your child. This means that you will have a meeting with the school to decide if your child is eligible for section 504.

After the school says your child is eligible, you will schedule another meeting with them to discuss "accommodations". This will become your child's 504 Plan. It should include all the things that need to be done to make sure your child is safe AND included in all school activities.

This is a relatively lengthy process, as you can imagine [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] but we have not regretted making the effort to do this.

Here is a thread with lots of details on how to do this:


You have your reading cut out for you, but we are all here to help!


On Jul 27, 2007

Juliekins-I would not agree to have my children eat in the office every day--there are other ways to keep them safe AND offer them peer interaction. I have read about a few (I think 3) school districts in Indiana going peanut-free or having great allergy policies. You might want to do a search, so you will at least know what other schools in your state are doing.

My daughter is starting 1st grade. She is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs (though it appears she might have outgrown, but we're waiting a year to food challenge per her allergist due to a previous failed one), and some melons. She is most sensitive to peanut exposure (ingested=anaphylaxis; skin contact=week on steroids; and aerosolized protein in the air=quick break-out of hives in a matter of minimal exposure). We're not sure how she would react to tree nuts, as she has never had them in any form. Her reaction to melons has been hives and only from ingestion. Our focus of her 504 Plan was to keep peanuts/tree nuts out of her classroom..in all forms (snacks, classroom projects, party food, etc.). We were also concerned of her being excluded from activities because of her allergies, so we wanted the accommodations to address that. Other concerns: full-time nurse always present She will sit at a peanut-free table for lunch. We're lucky because our school doesn't serve peanut products in the cafeteria/hot lunch, so she can have friends with hot lunch sit with her. This was in place prior to my daughter attending. The school has decided to have an aid present for my daughter for lunch and recess. We did not request that. They are concerned about the risk due to her young age and her history of reactions. The other big one for us, was children (actually anyone entering the classroom) has to wash their hands with soap and water or wipes.

The school might have more in place for handling allergies than you know. You might want to gather your letter from the allergist, pediatrician and yourself simply requesting a 504 Eligibility evaluation. Also, call the school district office or school nurse and find out what is in place for children with food allergies. 504s seems to be standard for life threatening food allergies in our district. We were offered one before we even brought it up.

Getting the 504 designation was the easy part for us. Agreeing on accommodations was more work. Having the school actually follow the plan was exhausting...not everyone has difficulty with that. Depends on the teacher (implements the 504), principal (or whoever enforces the 504), and the general climate of the school.

You should request the 504 eligibility hearing in writing and keep great records for yourself.

It is very late and I'm not sure I answered everything. I'll check back tomorrow after I've had some rest [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Good luck, Nicole

On Jul 27, 2007

A few examples of schools in Indiana for you to look at (and see what others are doing):

Pleasant View Elementary School in Yorktown Indiana has a peanut-free zone throughout the cafeteria, according to the search I did.

Also Richmond Community Schools in Richmond, IN: To the best of our ability, peanut products will not be sent to peanut free schools. Milk available with every meal. Menu subject to change. ...






On Jul 28, 2007

Oh good, I read your post last night but couldn't reply, you got some good advice posted! I have to 2nd the idea of your kids eating in the office. I too thought that was a great solution, but I am glad I didn't push it. My son is contact and even inhalation sensitive and if we ran into any problems at the peanut-free table, I was going to have him eat elsewhere besides the lunchroom. Honestly, he got some welts around his eyes once during the whole year, so that doesn't justify me moving him. The school did step up(after much debate) and now all the pb eaters(or cold lunch kids) sit together at the other end of the lucnhroom and the pf tables are at the opposite. I think this spereation helps, alot. The cold lunch tables also get up and wash their hands before leaving the lunchroom...so my son has been fine the rest of the year. He is such a social butterfly too, he would be crushed if he had to eat alone(he is allowed 2 friends to sit at his table).

But when I started this process, my son was in school already(this was last year). I read everything I could here and found a letter for our allergist to sign. Got the signature and then called our district office to see who our schools 504 coordinator was(the principal was beating around the bush and woudn't just give me a straight answer). So once I found out who it was(the assist principal was all) I called her voice mail and said I would like to proceed with the 540 evaluation meeting(then followed up with her the next time I was in), that I had a letter signed from the allergist and test results and I would be awaiting her return call. Most people write up a formal letter, so that may be a better way to go. But that is how I got the ball rolling.

It took about 4mths but we have a 504 ready for this next year. I did meet with the principal prior to the 504 request just asking what steps we could take(like at lunch, classroom, Epipens etc...) and they did a few accommodations, but not enough(and not in writing). Plus my son had a great teacher, if it hadn't been for her, I probably would have pulled him until the 504 was done, she did soooo much. Oh, we also did an allergy action plan with the district nurse at the beginning of the school year. That is important(so the school knows how to handle an emergency) but there was waaaay more to it then just that(like they thought, they seriously thuogh, well you have an action plan, what more do you honeslty need???). But good luck, keep asking, there's a wonderful group of women here that helped me sooooo much through all this. Let us know what else we can do. HUGS

------------------ Chanda(mother of 4) Sidney-8 1/2(beef and chocolate, grasses, molds, weeds, guinea pig & asthma) Jake-6 1/2(peanut, all tree nuts, eggs, trees, grasses, weeds, molds, cats, dogs, guinea pig & eczema & asthma) Carson-4 (milk, soy, egg, beef and pork, cats, dog, guinea pig, grass, mold, dust mite and EE) Savannah-1 1/2 (milk and egg)

[This message has been edited by chanda4 (edited July 28, 2007).]

On Jul 28, 2007

I think what is bothering me is with previous conversation with the school, they are not will to do action plan OR a preventative. And in my eyes, we need both. I've let someone who doesn't understand how severe my children are (inhalation and contact) tell me that what will it hurt to put them in the principals office for 20 minutes to eat every day. Surely they wouldn't be affected right? Wrong.

After doing alot of reading, I just don't see this happening this year. Plus, my oldest is in major anxiety mode. I'm not sure 8 years old is the end all be all age to start PS. I know I'll need to put her in the real world and force her to live in a peanut world, but I just don't think at 8 I'm ready to push.

I guess I'm just ticked off that yeah all of our children deserve a safe public education, they are entitled, but how many hoops should allergy parents hav to jumpt hrough to make it happen? My DD cries that she just wants to be normal, but going to PS isn't going to do that. I think she'd feel more out of place than if we continue to homeschool.

I'm still going to gather the info I need to hopefully make this happen within the next 2 years. Hopefully by 10 she'll be mature enough to understand this all, and realize that to have a place in the world, she's going to have to go out in it. My middle DD who is PA too, is just in kindergarten. I don't even think we're ready to put her out there. She has about half the understanding of PA that her sister did at her age. She just doesn't *get it*. KWIM?

I'm so sorry to be such a blubbering mess here.

On Jul 28, 2007

It may be a little late in the game to get everything set up for fall. I do think you should be able to get ready for 2008-2009 if you want to. That will give you plenty of time to get up to speed and figure out exactly what you want to do and how to do it. Let your DD know that you are working toward the goal of her attending public school next year.

You should absolutely expect the school to have both preventative measures and emergency treatment plans for your children. The 504 Plan is the way to go if you want to make sure your kids are included in all school activities and not shunted off to the office during lunch or class parties.


On Jul 28, 2007

You can also spend the year getting your kids ready for their roles at the public school.

Things to think about:

Will they need to wear their epipens and/or other meds?

Will they need to wear medic alert bracelets?

Can you do some role playing about what to say when someone offers them food? Do you want them to only eat food you send from home?

What should they do if they feel itchy or sick?

What about teaching them to use wipes before eating their lunches?

What if an adult is telling them to do something that wouldn't be safe? What should they do?

Get some books for kids about food allergies. These really helped us talk about situations that could come up at school.


On Jul 28, 2007


I think what is bothering me is with previous conversation with the school, they are not will to do action plan OR a preventative. And in my eyes, we need both. I've let someone who doesn't understand how severe my children are (inhalation and contact) tell me that what will it hurt to put them in the principals office for 20 minutes to eat every day. Surely they wouldn't be affected right? Wrong.

Oy. A section 504 designation would protect your child from exactly this type of discrimination/segregation. Of course your child needs a preventive plan as well as an emergency action plan.

Is this your elementary school? From the elementary school student handbook:



It is the policy of Austin Elementary School not to allow students to bring homemade treats to school to be shared with classmates. If you would like to send in treats to be shared by a whole class, please be sure that they are store bought items. Treats must be unopened and sealed in the original packaging. If you purchase cupcakes or cookies from a grocery store, please ask the store to seal the package. If you order pizza for your child

On Jul 28, 2007

This is another way to get your feet wet, so to speak. Cyberschooling. It [i]IS[/i] public school-- but 'at home.'

I understand where you are coming from. My DD is also very difficult to homeschool in many ways. Strong-willed and [i]MOUTHY.[/i] (This is a serious understatement.)

Having a "real school" to answer to has solved [i]some[/i] of those issues. Not all, by any means. But some. And it has given her [i]some[/i] peer interaction, which is certainly better than what we had before.

(We do have a 504 plan, incidentally. It just doesn't need to be anywhere near as detailed as it would for our local PS.... which would be a lot like building the Titanic with a butter knife and a tack hammer, truthfully.)


On Jul 29, 2007

Corvallismom: our state doesn't have that I don't think? We were going to use the program through K12-public school at home, but the Indiana government voted against funding public schooling done at home. And the price tag isn't affordable for us to pay out of pocket. It's cheaper for me to just buy the books myself and wing it. Which makes me sad. In a perfect world, we'd homeschool, weave our own cloth, grow vegetables as a science experiment, but we aren't anything like that! LOL Some of the advantages of homeschooling, I just don't have it in me to do, like growing vegetables for example.

I'm printing out this thread to store with my 504 info papers to keep this going in my head and get the ball rolling for another school year. After we had discussed it, she had a massive panic attack about school. She *wants* to go, but only as a *normal* kid. She doesn't want to go if her life is in any way in danger. And it would be. Going into the world is dangerous for any allergy kid. And it's just hard to force her out into the world if she's not ready yet.

After all these years, we feel like as her parents, we are accepting that this is their life (hers and her sister) but my oldest is I think just not coming to terms wiht it, and mourning the loss of a life she sees others having that she can't have. The challenge here is how to teach her to live the life she was given in her own colorful way, make a difference. Change things. And that's hard to do if I'm too afraid to change it for her.

Thankyou for listening. I'm glad I revisted this place. So much info to absorb.

On Aug 1, 2007

PA dd is starting kindergarten next month. We still don't have our 504, but are working on it. (small private school, two older dd's there, pa dd did pre-school there) They made accomdations for pre-school, and we're now pushing for "things in writing".

It may be too late to get a full blown 504 in place by start of school for you, especially if you have no prior relationship with the school. They DO have to accomodate your dd though. That is the LAW. My 2 cents would be to work on this thru the year, and maybe aim for spring semester or starting next fall. In the meanwhile, do you do HS activities with other kids? Is your dd used to being in a group? You could use these experiences to show her that she is safe there, and that a PS is an extension of those type of activities. If the classroom is PN free, then for most kids, the cafeteria is managable, and school will not seem to be the danger zone she might be perceiving it to be. That doesn't mean we, as the parents, don't see all the potential problems, but it might make her feel more comfortable. I would fight against eating in the office. Especially for a kid that came from HS'ing. That screams being ostracized.

There are a few threads about a federal office that will accept complaints about schools that don't accept 504 plans. Anyone have that link? It seems like that can be used as a last ditch effort into scaring the school into compliance. It's better to catch flies with sugar than vinegar, though, so working thru out the year nicely, if possible, will get you farther toward true compliance.

Good luck!

------------------ Lori Jo,

Rose, 7-31-02, PA Noah, 7-29-05 Beatrice & Georgia, 8-14-99

On Aug 1, 2007

I've really been thinking about your situation. What a shame that the turkeys in your state legislature have deliberately taken away an option that might have been ideal...

You might write an e-mail to your state rep/senator and let them know how this is impacting you. (And by extension, how it will impact an entire school population, no matter what you might wish.)

I agree that working toward a 504 plan is probably the best idea-- it really sounds as though you'll need to iron out those details FIRST, though, or your child is going to be very frightened to attend.

My other thought is that if you plan to (or feel like you [i]have to[/i]) continue to homeschool for this year, you might consider using a new approach-- or using one to modify the current one.

Some of the different pedagogical 'styles' of homeschooling are: Charlotte Mason Montessori Un-schooling (but I would be wary if you plan to mainstream your kids later) Classical (Well-trained Mind)

Eclectic (which can mean pretty much anything) can have different sub-styles too: Unit studies, school-at-home, etc.

Sometimes kids just don't [i]do[/i] well or respond well to 'school-at-home.' Other kids don't respond at all well to less structured approaches (they crave the predictability).

Just thoughts. You might try a new twist or two this year (science unit studies, lapbooking, Craft Fridays, or 'book discussion club') and see if it helps. Whenever the going gets really rough with my own DD, I find that novelty really helps her get back on track. Even if that means packing up our stuff and going to the library for 'lessons.'

On Aug 1, 2007

"I agree that working toward a 504 plan is probably the best idea-- it really sounds as though you'll need to iron out those details FIRST, though, or your child is going to be very frightened to attend.

My other thought is that if you plan to (or feel like you have to) continue to homeschool for this year, you might consider using a new approach-- or using one to modify the current one."

Yes, I do plan on working on this throughout the year so that we can have it in place next school year for her. Both her and us the parents are TERRIFIED to send her into a building with PB served daily. It causes anxiety attacks in all 3 of us.

For the schooling, we are going to try a new method for us. This is the first year she's old enough for the Prairie primer, so we are going to do that and try to take a whole new approach to how we learn. She's had traditional texts with workbooks for the last 3 years and it is so BORING to her.

I feel like I've gotten some GREAT homeschool advice here too! Thankyou all for that. We are having trouble with a cousin of hers that she idolizes and is really out of her age range. So it became apparent to me that I need to get her more involved in her own age group, so I'm going to find our local homeschool group again and get reinvolved. I tried when she was in Kindy, but I had a newborn and a 2 year old with her and a DH who worked 2 jobs and attended college. So yeah, it was just too much! Now, I can see we all need an outlet. They do more funstuff together than anything and I think that's what she needs.

Thanks for all the tips and advice. I do so much appreciate this. I feel like we're hitting a turning point with her and I need to get this done right.