If one is not allergic to substances, then you probably don’t pay much attention to food allergies. The parents and children in one Florida classroom are paying a lot of attention to the subject of food allergies because of the severe allergic reaction one child has to peanuts. In the article, Peanut Allergy Stirs Controversy At Florida Schools Rueters reports:
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….
Chris Burr, a father of two older students at the school whose wife has protested at the campus, said a lot of small accommodations have added up to frustration for many parents.
“If I had a daughter who had a problem, I would not ask everyone else to change….
The Spokesman-Review of Spokane reported on the death of a child from a severe reaction to peanuts.
In the 2001 article, Privacy vs. Right to Know Virginia De Leon reports about the death of a Spokane boy. The Center for Health Care in Schools describes the death and the subsequent litigation in the article, A Look Back At An Allergic Child’s Death
A Washington State appeals court ruled March 9 that Spokane School District No. 81 may continue to withhold from a local newspaper information about the death five years ago of a child known by the district to be allergic to peanuts who was offered a sack lunch containing peanut butter sandwiches and cookies on a school field trip.
When notified of the child’s death from anaphylactic shock during the field trip, the school district, in anticipation of a “wrongful death” lawsuit, immediately contacted its private attorneys, who hired a retired policeman to investigate the death.
In its March 9, 2006, ruling, the appeals court held that because the district’s attorneys were responsible for the investigation, the resulting information falls under attorney-client privilege, and the school district is not obliged to give the findings to The Spokesman-Review, the newspaper that has requested records of the investigation.
As part of its opinion, the appeals court outlined what is known about the death of 9-year-old Nathan Walters in May 2001. The court wrote that:
“A child died from an acute allergic reaction to peanuts while on a field trip with his elementary school class. His medical condition was well known to the District’s food staff, the boy’s teacher, and the organizers of the field trip, including two school nurses and several parent volunteers. Nevertheless, only peanut-laden snack lunches were provided. The child reported that he did not feel well after tasting a peanut-based cookie. The chaperones did not want to curtail the activities for the other children. So they put the sick child in the school bus to wait. His condition became acute and he was finally taken to a hospital by car. He received an epinephrine injection for the first time while on the way. The response was too late and the child died.”
Washington State has a public disclosure law that requires a government agency to release to members of the public who request it “any writing containing information relating to the conduct of government,” but the law makes an exemption for records that are “attorney work products.” The details of the investigation into Nathan’s death were an attorney work product, the court decided, since the investigation was conducted under supervision of the school district’s attorneys.
The March 9 decision in the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division III, was Cody Soter et al. v. Cowles Publishing Company.
See also: School Health Issues: Food Allergies at http://www.healthinschools.org/sh/sissues.asp.
The Washington Superintendent for Public Instruction (OSPI) has issued guidelines for dealing with children with severe allergies. In http://www.k12.wa.us/HealthServices/pubdocs/GuidelinesCareStudentsAllergies.pdf. OSPI provides guidelines for school districts. There is a more recent guide, Guidelines for Students With Anaphyaixis The Washington State Legislature has enacted RCW 28A.210.380, Anaphylaxis — Policy guidelines — Procedures — Reports.
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Micheal Borella’s Chicago-Kent Law Review article, Food Allergies In Public Schools: Toward A Model Code
USDA’s Accomodating Children With Special Dietary Needs
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