March 23, 2011

Six-Year-Old With Peanut Allergies Wanted Out?

Parents in a Florida school want a six-year-old girl with peanut allergies removed from her school to be home schooled instead.  What?  I was just about in tears when I read yesterday's story

Peanut Allergy Stirs Controversy At Florida School
ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) – Some public school parents in Edgewater, Florida, want a first-grade girl with life-threatening peanut allergies removed from the classroom and home-schooled, rather than deal with special rules to protect her health, a school official said.
"That was one of the suggestions that kept coming forward from parents, to have her home-schooled. But we're required by federal law to provide accommodations. That's just not even an option for us," said Nancy Wait, spokeswoman for the Volusia County School District.
Wait said the 6-year-old's peanut allergy is so severe it is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
To protect the girl, students in her class at Edgewater Elementary School are required to wash their hands before entering the classroom in the morning and after lunch, and rinse out their mouths, Wait said, and a peanut-sniffing dog checked out the school during last week's spring break...[full story]

After reading the story, I thought a lot about it before deciding on what thoughts I had to share about it.  I have, for the most part, received empathy and understanding from my children's school communities regarding their food allergies.  So it's really hard for me to imagine a world where parents are actually protesting my child's enrollment in his school because of them.  I always feel it goes back to lack of food allergy education among the school community, and even what we as parents or doctors understand about food allergies.  With a lack of more details, I hesitate to comment on the extent to which the school has been asked to accommodate this child with respect to the severity of her food allergies.

Most disturbing were the comments that were posted after the article--over 3000 comments have been posted to date.  Whereas my first instinct was concern over the well-being of the child and how the ostracization of the school community was affecting her; most of the comments were actually in favor of making her being home schooled and basically expressed the selfishness of the family for making the school community take responsibility for her health.

How have your food allergic children's schools responded to their needs?  What is your take on what is happening in Florida?

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