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March 24th, 2011
09:36 AM ET

Parents picket girl with peanut allergy, ask her to withdraw from school

A student at Edgewater Elementary School in Volusia County, Florida is being asked to withdraw from the school by her classmates' parents.

The student has a life-threatening peanut allergy and, as a result, her classmates are asked to make accommodations to ensure her safety. Some parents of children at the school say the extra steps their children are taking to ensure the girl's health, such as washing their hands or rinsing out their mouths, are taking away from their own children's learning. Meanwhile, the school is standing by its decision to make accommodations for the student.

Do your kids have allergies? What's your take on the situation?

Jason Carroll reports on the controversy in Florida.

Dr. Scott Sicherer, Professor of Pediatrics at Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai Medical Center, talks to Kiran Chetry about how to handle food allergies.


Filed under: Education • Food • Health
soundoff (808 Responses)
  1. Duh

    I personally have allergies to many things. I have never received any sort of special treatment I just knew to stay away from those things. Also....this child is NOT a special needs child, the kid just has an allergy!!! You cannot compare a child with "special needs" with this kid. The child is NORMAL, except for the fact that they have an ALLERGY! As a parent, if my child were so ALLERGIC TO SOMETHING THAT THEY COULD DIE, then I would home school or make other arrangements for the child. Why risk my childs life if they could die?? But at the same time are they not going to allow the child to go to Walmart or a grocery store or ice cream shop where peanuts are sold and used in foods??? Are the parents going to try and get peanuts outlawed from the USA because their child is allergic? When are people going to learn that one persons issue should not be EVERYONES ISSUE????? I feel bad that the kid is allergic because it sucks, but I do not think that all of the kids need to be affected because of one kid. The little kid needs to make sure that they stay away from peanuts and eat their own lunches brought from home. Some people can ONLY afford pb &J for their kids because it is cheap 10 mins to make sure each child rinses their mouth twice a day at school equals 1 hr and 40 mins (100 minutes) that the kids are not LEARNING each week.. This is very disrupting,

    March 24, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  2. Chrissy

    Where does it end? How about we oust the kids with learning disabilities, too, since they pick up information at a slower pace and therefore cause other children to "lose" instruction?? How about the kids in wheelchairs because transition times take a few seconds longer than they would if "those" kids weren't around? If these parents feel that they are not discriminating against a six-year-old child who cannot control, and surely did not choose, her condition, they are sorely mistaken. People truly disgust me, and it's no wonder to me that children are becoming more and more selfish these days. Apples truly don't fall far from trees...

    March 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  3. janaee

    i want 5 mins. with those panerts who r putting this lil girl and her family thru this hell! i have an 8 yr old with peanut allergies & thank god i live in a friendly community. her classmates look out for her & care about her. i would love to have a talk with those (clearly stupid) people. in fact email me jdavis_johnson@yahoo.com

    March 24, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  4. Jeff

    How would these parents feel if kids were able to bring guns and knives to school around their kids? That is what they may as well be doing for this girl. Having to wash hands is such a big inconvenience ? Do they realize how bad they sound. Maybe they could just beat the kid up after school. She is 6 after all, big enough to defend herself. My son has a severe peanut allergy as well. Fortunately, I live in an area where it is not uncommon and the parents, kids, teachers, etc at school are understanding. These parents are almost as bad as the idiots who insist on eating peanuts in planes but these ones just appear to be even more idiotic willingly going on TV with the issue. Hopefully the apples in class fall far from the parents' tree and they do not openly ridecule this poor girl.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  5. Sally White

    How stupid can parents be!! i have a son with 4+ peanut and treenut allergy it is the scariest thing to ever have to deal with, my child cant even go to a mall that roast peanuts for the fact of inhaling it could cause him to react to it. You know some of these parents need to open their eyes and say what if that was my child! its not that hard to take the extra steps to protect a child, i live in palmyra, mo, by god they are working with my son he is in earlychildhood program and they are peanut and treenut free the are willing to work around my sons allergy and the nurse from schools are working their asses off to make the schools peanut and treenut free!! so shame on you parents just ask yourself one thing what if it was my child!

    March 24, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  6. Anonymous :D

    They make the argument that being extra careful is taking away from kids learning time. I don't think it makes a difference, most of the young kids are probably doodling or picking their nose.

    Granted, I understand that being extra careful may be annoying to some people. However, I would personally feel insulted if people could only complain about how they couldn't have a peanut butter sandwich for 6 hours because, oh wait I'm sorry, my LIFE was on the line.

    It's good that these kids are learning to be "extra careful" and considerate at a young age, because the world would be even better if more and more people were respectful to one another.

    I

    March 24, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  7. Deployed soldier

    Is this is what we are fighting for overseas? What is the lesson being taught to our future leaders? I love my country but feel sad for the ignorance we show to the world. This is a good example of what people from other countries use to derive the comment "stupid Americans". I know are better than this, I can only hope this isn't the whole truth and that the press is just exaggerating this story out of proportion as they have a habit of doing but that's a completely different topic.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  8. B. S.

    My son has multiple life threatening allergies. He reacts to ingesting foods, but also reacts to touching surfaces with what we assume to have remnants of things he's allergic to. That's the scariest part; the unseen allergens or the trace amounts that make their way into foods normally safe. I'm not one to step on toes, so I taught my son at a young age all the safe practices; only eating food brought from home, hand washing, not sharing, reading labels/asking for help reading labels, early symptoms, etc., but it wasn't always enough to keep him safe from a reaction. It's a shame these parents feel the way they do and are setting the example they are setting. Very small-minded.

    March 24, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  9. Jeff

    When did the rights of a 6 year old become more important than the LIFE of a 6 year old? Anyone who can defend this protest severely needs to pray for salvation because they are going to Hell. To argue that other students are being treated unfairly due to her disability is ridiculous and none of the requests are unreasonable. How can these parents allow their children to go to school for an education and meanwhile act as such uneducated selfish fools? When this girl is old enough to take care of herself that is another issue altogether. Again may I remind you she is only 6! If anyone here needs to grow up it is the parents protesting.

    March 24, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  10. Charlotte Ackerman

    The parents protesting should be ASHAMED of themselves! Those kids should be washing their hands anyway at school. Where is the compassion for this little girl. This is the most absurd thing I have ever heard! Luckily, our public school system looks to keep children safe from harm first. I hope someone stands up for this little girl and can shut these horrible people up. I am shocked by this!

    March 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  11. Lizz

    This school and it's staff should be commended.

    And the parents picketing are full of such hate and selfishness. Only someone small minded would throw a trantrum over asking their little nose picker to wash their hands in a public classroom. Taking time away from their studies? It's first grade – learning hygine and kindness towards each other IS their lesson.

    March 24, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  12. Larry C

    People with physical handicaps make adjustments to their lives and learn to adapt. As a society, we do some things to make their lives easier, such as wheelchair ramps and handicap parking spots. But this girl's parents are demanding that everyone adapt and adjust to their daughter's handicap so she doesn't have to. I agree that picketing the school is a little harsh, but parents were ordered, not asked, to punish their own children in order to make someone else's child more comfortable.

    March 24, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  13. Cori

    I Just have to feel sorry for those parents and children out picketing. How incredibly sad must their lives be to have to picket a little girl, with a severe disability none the less. Maybe if those adults picketing could find joy in their own child's education, and stop worrying about themselves, they would know how to spell medium. (median... really?)

    March 24, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  14. michelle

    In response to hateful Tom and micmorri, the law requires that children with disabilities, while annoying to you, attend school, not supermarkets. Tom, we are discussing children, not coworkers. And it sounds like you could use a lesson in compassion as well. Just a guess: you don't have children. Until food allergic children are old enough to carry and administer a shot to themselves to counter a fatal allergic reaction (I think all would agree age 6 is too young) they must depend on trained adults in case of emergency. micmorri, you are mistaken, some children CAN go into anaphylactic shock from airborn allergens.

    March 24, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  15. T. paustian

    We wouldn't have all these issues if moms were to feed their babies/children normally and not give them artificial milk (aka formula). Imagine how many kids would be able to live normal lives without peanut allergies if their parents loved them enough to feed them normally.

    March 24, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Erica

      I breastfed my son for almost 2 years but he was born with milk allergy. If it was up to me I wish food allergy does not exist at all.

      March 24, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Marie

      Unfortunately the solution is not so simple. I also only breastfed my son until he was two and did not introduce solid foods until six months. He has had multiple life threatening food allergies since he was an infant.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:52 am |
  16. Jennifer

    Secition 504 of the 1974 Rehabilitation Act mandates a free and appropriate public education for every child of school age with a disability. IDEA further mandates that this must be done in the least restrictive environment. This issue really isn't up for debate. It is the law.

    I would have liked to see more reporting on why the parents are protesting. There must be more to the story.

    March 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  17. Susan Williams

    As the former Sec 504 Coordinator for my district, I can tell you that these parents are not only showing a lack of empathy and concern, but are basically wasting their time-this student has legal protections. Kudos to the Superintendent and staff for seeing that this student, who has a disability under the Rehabilitation Act, has reasonable accommodations made to her disability that give HER EQUAL access (not special favors) to her education! Someone mentioned establishing a "nut free zone"....does that include protesting self-centered parents?

    March 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  18. Calvin Kortge

    If these "Americans" put the same energy into enhancing the quality of their own lives as much as they do making a young childs social life pure hell by singling her out for being different, this world would be a better place. This mob mentality is easy to adopt when we're scolding someone and making them feel like their encroaching on our "right to be dirty if we want". However, you don't see too many gathering together to praise anything, or anyone. These hate mongers are simply acting out in a desperate attempt to make themselves feel like a very strong portion of our society. Their lack of control over their own lives and children are the seed that eventually grows into a bitter old person who hates anything that pushes us as a society further toward advancement. 10 Years ago these same parents were asking for better and healthier conditions amongst American Academia. And now they're asking that this young girl be put in a "special school" because all the other children are "forced" to wash their hands and mouth? Aren't they supposed to be doing that already anyways? I mean for God's sake, this is a classic examply of "I'm gonna hate whatever they say, no matter what it is." Like a younger sibling. Whatever you ask them to do, they will undoubtedly do the opposite just for the sake of engaging in the argument.
    Instead of picketing this little girl, these parents should be using that time and energy to educate their children on the importance of cleanliness and understanding of people who may, God forbid, be outside the boundaries of what we may consider "normal". These parents are an enunciated waste of human matter that deserve nothing less than absolute humiliation for this cruel act that they've bestowed upon this poor little girl. God have mercy on your ruthless, cruel, unforgiving souls.

    March 24, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  19. sad for these nuts!

    I have a peanut allergy that developed when I was 25. The picketing parents should really stop and look at what they are doing. They are trying to deny someone with special needs the right to a public education. These people are sick and should not be allowed to shun this poor child! I work with the military and they make every effort to prevent cross contamination and even employee civilians with a deadly peanut allergy (Ramstein AB passport office). Tell me how military and their families can conform but these parents are too upset about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch to look at the big picture.

    March 24, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  20. Mark

    So the rest of the schoolkids should rearrange their life because the parents of this girl with the allergy don't teach her about keeping away from peanuts? She should be taught what to be aware of and make decisions for herself, don't expect the entire school to change for 1 person. People are acting like the other parents are wrong for wanting their children to be able to have a normal school day. I think the needs of the many should outweigh the needs of the few.

    When she gets a job is her mommy gonna call the company she works for and ask that any employees working there make sure they don't bring peanuts to work?

    March 24, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  21. Beth

    Monica–your comments disguist me.

    I am sorry that you went to a peanut-free school; I have a life-threatening peanut allergy as well, and I went to elementary school long before peanut-free best practices were put in place, and I did perfectly fine. My parents educated me that it was MY responsibility to be safe; if an accident happened, it was just an accident, not another child's fault.

    However, comparing a mild animal allergy to a life-threatening peanut allergy is beyond idiotic. Animal allergies cause some itching, some scratching, etc. It can take a small child 1/2 of a peanut and less than a minute to die. DIE.

    Accommodations are made every day for different kinds of disabilities, handicaps, emotional problems, behavioral problems, etc. And to teach kids a little more about hygiene? HOW DARE WE.

    Learn a little more before you submit your comments to CNN. Same for everyone else on here upset that your child is eating something healthier than peanut butter and doing something so ridiculously dangerous as hand washing during the day.

    March 24, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  22. Nicole

    As the mother of 2 children with severe food allergies, this makes me sad. I have made every effort to make sure that my kids stay safe. Until you live with the fear that at any second you could receive a call from the school that your child is on the way to the ER, you cannot understand. Thank God my school is helpful and understanding, I have only encountered one parent that was a bit snippy. Once I explained to her how it works and all that could happen she was better. I make sure to let parents know that I will provide food for my children, I do not expect other parents to know how to feed my child. I do expect other parents to make the effort to keep my child safe, just as I would do for their child. Thank you to the school for standing their ground, it is hard enough for kids without the added stress of parents fighting. Can you imagine how this child feels? My son is a trooper and I tell him what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, only for him it is almost literal. The kids in our class all help make sure my son doesn't come into contact with allergens and trade candy for toys or stickers with him. Please just educate yourself on any "difference"before passing judgment and imagine how you would feel if it was your child.

    March 24, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  23. Tom

    I wouldn't do it. I don't care what any of my co-workers are allergic to. I'm not altering my life for them.

    So, what's the next target for parents of kids with peanut allergies? Will you demand that all stores/supermarkets stop selling any products containing peanuts? Will you demand that every person walking into any store wash their hands and rinse their mouths?

    Helicopter parents and the nanny state...gotta hate 'em!

    March 24, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  24. michelle

    The picketing parents argue that they feel that the procedures to keep this little girl safe are taking too much time away from their kids education, yet, instead of reading or doing something to further their childs' education, they have their kids out there with picket signs! Some of these parents are even keeping their kids out of school in protest. Not too sharp!

    March 24, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  25. Joanne Keeling

    Beyond ridiculous! I am a parent with life threatening allergies to nuts an latex. Children's parties for me are a nightmare as I have to be so careful with balloons. Most parents are fantastic, they are so accomodating for my sake, and often have helium balloons or non latex ones. If my children come into contact with them other parents wash their hands. Life is precious, if a simple solution can make someone's life safer then I'm all for it. Shame on the ignorant selfish parents who are not willing to help this child. I only hope they come to their senses very soon, never experience a life threatening health problem themselves and do not pass on their selfish attitude to their children who have these people as role models....... With all the pain and suffering in the world you would think civillised mankind could do better than this?! People never cease to amaze me ;0(

    March 24, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  26. Stacey.

    I just Cant understand what this is about , so your Child have to wash there hands , how is this that big of a deal that another Child has to be kicked out of school ..

    Your Child should have to wash there hand every day anyway this would help with flus passed throw the School would it not ,,
    or would they throw i fit about there kids getting swine flu also ....

    March 24, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  27. cordovanmusic

    This must be the most ridiculous thing I've heard in ages. These protesting parents are pathetic, ignorant, selfish bullies. And to drag their own kids into their own dysfunction and make them "protest" is psychological abuse.

    March 24, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  28. DL

    My kids attend a "nut free" public elementary school and it has never been an issue as far as I know. Parents are asked not to send any food that contain peanuts and other nuts; and kids are instructed to never share food with other kids. How hard is that?

    March 24, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  29. Veronica

    I saw a lot of Happy Median (s/b Medium) signs!!!

    March 24, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  30. Bridgit

    Trust me when I say that this girl's parents have considered the other kids. And, they are so grateful for the care the school and their child's classmates take to reduce the risk of a life threatening allergic reaction. The efforts have not gone unnoticed.

    March 24, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  31. michelle

    It seems to me that the "protesting parents" are missing a real opportunity to teach their children about compassion, friendship and community. I see this situation as a golden chance to not only teach children compassion but to exhibit it for them. Are these people that just want to cause a stink? Is it really such a big deal for these kids to wash thier hands? Is this such an inconvenience? The little girl doesn't even eat her lunch in the same room with them. She eats isolated in the classroom while they are in the cafeteria. What are these parents teaching their children? Picketing? Really? How do they think they are affecting this little girl. How truly sad and ignorant these people must be!

    March 24, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  32. Nicole

    You know, these precautions may be unnecessary. I've read various articles by allergists suggesting we take peanut and tree nut precautions too far (such as a fear that trace amounts of peanut butter on another kid's hand will cause a life threatening reaction- for the vast majority of peanut allergic kids this is not the case).

    Having said that, these parent's behavior is disgusting. It's not that big of an inconvenience for your child. Learning to wash your hands is an important lesson for first graders. Learning to accept and accommodate people's differences is an important lesson. The parents are being poor role models to their children.

    March 24, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  33. Jessie

    My son is in kindergarten. His school (grades K to 5th) does not allow peanuts "because a student or staff member(s) has a peanut allergy" we have never been told who, and its posted on the doors of the school.

    At first I was stumped on what to send for snacks since he would live on PB&J if I let him. But I figured it out: pretzels, popcorn, fruit cups, bananas, apple slices, ham and cheese, crackers, etc. there are lots of choices. Its not that hard.

    And washing their hands? With H1N1 around they should be doing that anyway.

    March 24, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  34. Linda McCarthy

    My daughters went to middle school with a young man who suffered from an extreme peanut allergy. Parents received a letter home explaining the extent of the allergy. The other students were happy to avoid peanuts and peanut butter to keep him safe – it was never an issue. Hand-washing was required before the start of every class (there was a sink and soap in every classroom) and before lunch – not a bad idea for everyone, if you think of it – and the young man carried an EpiPen for emergencies. All staff were trained by a nurse on the proper method to inject it. It was NEVER an issue. I'm afraid that somewhere along the line in this school information and/or requests for help have been handled poorly, and people are choosing to respond selfishly and thoughtlessly. With all of the other issues in the world today that require our time and energy, this seems like a small sacrifice on the part of the parents and children who attend school with this young girl whose life will be dominated by something she cannot control and did not choose.

    March 24, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  35. yesitsme

    I don't have a problem with the school having the students wash their hands but here's the problem- the parents of the child with the allergy needs to find out what more can be done for her without infringing on the rights of others. Not because of these fellow classmates but for her future. The parents are sorely mistaken if they think they can protect her once she is an adult – what is going to happen then? They are not going to be able to keep her safe at all times. If they think these school parents are outrageous – it's just a small fraction of what is waiting for her.

    March 24, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  36. Ron Owings

    You have GOT to be kidding me! What morons those protesting parents are! So sorry your babies are SLIGHTLY inconvenienced for the safety of a classmate! What lesson are you teaching your children? Welcome back to the 1950s people!

    March 24, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  37. Margaret

    What a mean-spirited, nasty group of adults! So their children have to wash their hands a couple of times a day. Shouldn't they be doing that anyway? So what if they are asked to forgo peanut butter sandwiches. There are hundreds of other things to eat! This is an opportunity for the children to learn about compassion as well as good health habits and the problems associated with allergies. The adults in this case are behaving like the worse spoiled child.

    March 24, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  38. KMW

    This is just so sad... would these kids be outside holding misspelled picket signs if it were not for their parents? “…happy median”? What? So sad that young ones are being taught to waste their energy on hate and fear fostered by their own parent’s actions and “guidance”.

    I like the idea that Beth Pipkin had…share lunch with her on occasion…don’t isolate her, fear her, hate, her. Regardless of time loss, laws, school mandates, etc… this is a little person being isolated, feared and rejected.

    My only hope is one day those kids outside picking will come to feel some sort of clarity on how unnecessary it was to target another peer…for whatever reason (race, disability, sex, religion, disease).

    March 24, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  39. Kathy

    My son has a severe peanut allergy and the parents in is class have been kind enough to switch to Barney Butter almond butter. The kids don't even know it's not peanut butter and it is so much healthier for them anyway.

    March 24, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  40. Seth

    My kids' school as peanut-free tables in the cafeteria and everyone is very aware of the dangers of food allergies. One of my girls has twice in four years been in the same class as another with numerous food allergies, in addition to nut and dairy. We have a list of safe snacks that her mother provides every year. It's OCCASIONALLY an inconvenience, but is it really that much trouble? To keep another kid safe? These parents should be teaching their children tolerance and how to live with others and be self-less. Not to rant and rave and pout over what? How are they affected? How are the children affected? Your kid HAS TO eat peanut butter and jelly at school? Or what? He'll starve? That's the same as the parent of an obese child saying the child will only eat snacks. Don't buy them. Problem solved. Why can't these Florida idiots adjust their lives the slightest bit to ensure the safety of another child? May God have mercy on their souls.

    March 24, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  41. Ira

    It angers me to see parents teaching their kids its okay to discriminate against a child!!! What intolerance!! Additionally, kids SHOULD be washing their hands after lunch EVERY day, and what's wrong if they are also cleaning their hands ONE more time a day. So what if they’re missing a few minutes of school–
    what, the kids never go to the bathroom, have to wash their hands after an art or gym activity, or anything else—terrible excuses for outright discrimination and intolerance. These parents should be ashamed of themselves. UGH!!!

    March 24, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  42. karin

    What a horrible example of human compassion these picketing parents are to their own children. I bet some of those kids could use extra handwashing. Most kids do through the day.

    March 24, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  43. Maureen

    Do these picketing parents not realize that we can see them? Or do they not realize how ignorant and childish they are showing themselves to be?

    March 24, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  44. Cindy A

    As a parent of a child with severe allergies and a person who is moderately allergic to peanuts myself, I am very offended by these parents who are picketing. If this outragous picket demands are granted, where would we draw the line as to who is allow to attend school and who wasn't? What disabilities are too INCONVENIENT for our schools? Which children that don't fit the mold, do we outcast to make the majority more COMFORTABLE? How dare they want to ban children from their education because of their DNA make-up. I am outraged at this discrimination. How can an inconvenience take precedence over the well-being and education of a innocent first-grader? This is discrimination all over again, I feel like I am living in the 60s and my child is going to be asked to go to a different school, sit in a different section of the bus and drink from a different drinking fountain. Did MLK not accomplish anything?

    March 24, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  45. micmorri

    I have a peanut allergy, and I survived public school without issue, not even one time. Its called a psycho parent, bent on making the school conform to her overbearing mentality. It is a FOOD ALLERGY, meaning YOU HAVE TO EAT IT. I could understand not allowing salted peanuts where you have to crack the shells open, and peanut dust flies everywhere, but not peanut butter. To my knowledge, peanut butter cannot be aerosolized, period. These actions by the school are clearly out of fear of a lawsuit, and should be stopped. Its plain and simple crazy to take it this far. If you feel this worried about someone rubbing peanut butter all over your child, then send them to school in a bubble or something. Stop being a psycho overbearing parent. My mom simply told the faculty I had an allergy, and they took care of it. Granted I dont like the smell of peanuts, but the smell doesnt cause an allergic reaction, unless Im huffing it with a paper bag. Give me a break and stop this craziness!

    March 24, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  46. Colleen

    if ignorance is bliss, these picketers must be in heaven. this is clearly an issue of lacking empathy and immaturity because as other people have posted, it would be different if it was "their kid". these insensitive cruel individiuals had better change their tune quickly – karma has a way of teaching empathy to those who do not have it. and to those of you who are supportive of this family even though you do not have a child with allergies, thank you from the bottom of our hearts – you are the ones who inspire us.
    -mom of a child who has multiple food allergies for whom I DAILY try to balance safety with normalcy – it is a constant and exhausting struggle, even without this added insensitivity.

    March 24, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  47. micmorri

    I have a peanut allergy, and I survived public school without issue, not even one time. Its called a psycho parent, hell bent on making the school conform to her overbearing mentality. It is a FOOD ALLERGY, meaning YOU HAVE TO EAT IT. I could understand not allowing salted peanuts where you have to crack the shells open, and peanut dust flies everywhere, but not peanut butter. To my knowledge, peanut butter cannot be aerosolized, period. These actions by the school are clearly out of fear of a lawsuit, and should be stopped. Its plain and simple crazy to take it this far. If you feel this worried about someone rubbing peanut butter all over your child, then send them to school in a bubble or something. Stop being a psycho overbearing parent. My mom simply told the faculty I had an allergy, and they took care of it. Granted I dont like the smell of peanuts, but the smell doesnt cause an allergic reaction, unless Im huffing it with a paper bag. Give me a break and stop this craziness!

    March 24, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  48. Wendy McLaughlin

    I am the mother of a first grade boy with a life threatening peanut allergy. My son has had anaphylaxis two times in his life before age 5. I deal with this issue everyday and have anxiety over it when my son is in school. What these protesters need is to witness a child having anaphylaxis. They would never want to witness it again. If the child had a reaction of this magnatude in the classroom the children would be scared and have a lifetime of nightmares. What these protesters dont realize is that the school is trying to protect ALL students from witnessing such a horrifying thing. Think about how the children would feel if the child died from an allergy attack in the classroom. It is not too much to ask to wash hands and faces and aire on the side of caution. My heart and compassion go out to the family dealing with this! I know how you feel.
    Completely disgusted in NJ!
    Wendy

    March 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  49. Mich. Parent

    Should schools make sure kids don't have dog hair on them? Seriously? Many kids with food allergies are allergic to dogs. . . and cats, molds, dust, pollen, etc.

    The common allergic reaction to environmental allergies is a runny nose, itchy eyes and skin. Food allergies can be fatal! Pretty big difference.

    March 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  50. Kim

    AS a parent of 2 girls with severe peanut allergies, I am very upset with these parents and the way they are acting. SHould we just keep our kids at home if they are different in anyway !!! What are they teaching thier own kids. This little girl is in first grade, dealing with this allergy that's bad enough but to have grown adults protest not wanting you in school to live a normal life and be with her friends. I have been through stuff like this and I will stick up for my child in everyway, I wonder what they would do if it was thier children.

    March 24, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  51. Concerned Parent

    I too have attended the Jaffe Institute with my food allergic child. I was told by the lead doctor that there is no way to know how serious a reaction will become after my child ingests the food cause his allergy. The food allergy test numbers are not indicative of the level of a reaction one can experience. Low numbers do not equate to a minor reaction to the offending food. Therefore, Kiran's explanation that her child has a less serious form of a food allergy, to my knowledge, is not an accurate description of the problem. I was advised to carry my child's Epipen at all times; because the reaction that was minor yesterday could be full blown anaphylactic next time!

    March 24, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  52. AnotherMother

    Question to any parent who doesn't believe this little girl should be made to feel accepted, as normal as possible and protected: what would Jesus do?
    I'm guessing he wouldn't be hanging out in the picket line.
    And like another person pointed out, PB&J isn't healthy! Unless if it's all natural, organic peanut butter, 100% all fruit jelly on 100% whole wheat bread. And I'm guessing, by the slovenly look of most of the protestors, this is not the case.

    March 24, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  53. FloridaMom

    Do those protesting parents believe it is "fair" to that six year old child to be excluded from so many things in life and to know that eating one wrong thing could end her life? So many freedoms are taken away from a child with food allergies. To ask students to wash their hands and rinse their mouths five days a weeks while in school is not such a big issue. This girl has to live with her problem 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year - it never goes away and it is never "fair" for her! I am disappointed that people are more concerned about their "rights" than their willingness to help others by making a few concessions. They should be ashamed of their selfishness and ignorance and the poor values they are teaching their children. I applaud the school for taking the steps it has and I send my support to the family! I wish more schools would follow suit!

    From a parent with a child with food allergies.

    March 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  54. furgi

    Keep your child home if he or she has this serious of an allergy if my child accidentally breaths on your child after eating peanut butter Im at fault?!?! Iam sick and tired of people in this country expecting everyone to go to great lengths for the sake of a few. If I want to eat a snickers candy bar (it has peanuts) and then immediately brush my teeth and hands for fear of running into someone with a peanut allergy forget you STAY HOME!!!

    March 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  55. FL Teacher Mom

    My sons, now in middle school, both attended an elementary school that went peanut-free because of a student's severe allergy, and we had no problem with it. In fact, I was appalled that so many parents did complain about having to find alternate lunches for their kids – it seemed to me like a small thing to ask.

    As a teacher, though, I wonder if the accommodations mentioned in this story are going too far. If the student in this story is so medically fragile that her classmates have to be this on guard, her teacher and all the staff members who work with her during the day will have to be super-vigilant. How could they – or the kids – ever live with themselves if corners were cut and somehow the child with the allergy were exposed to peanut residue and became seriously ill or died? I'm not sure it is practical to ask that of the school staff. But I'm not sure it is right to exclude her either.

    March 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  56. Kristin

    The parents protesting need to get some perspective. Washing hands and brushing teeth (not just rinsing) after a meal improves health. It will not *hurt* their kids, it will foster healthy habits. Good grief. I wish they had invested their time in their community (volunteering at the school) instead of wasting it picketing. Sad.

    March 24, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  57. SRM

    The parents who are trying to kick this poor 6 year old girl out of school make me sick to my stomach. Absolutely revolting human beings. They should all be ashamed of themselves.

    March 24, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  58. Meredith

    I feel like what is actually "taking away from their children's learning time" is the bigotry and intolerance their parents are teaching them. Where are the counter protesters to show support for the family and little girl?

    March 24, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  59. Where's the compassion?

    Shame on the parents of Edgewater, FL! They have an opportunity to teach compassion and sacrifice to their children and are failing miserably. This is why bullying is rampant in our schools. Lousy parenting! I'd wash my hands twice a day to spare the life of an innocent little girl.. wouldn't you?

    March 24, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  60. lenny

    Let's think future, can we expect everyone that this child comes into contact with for the rest of her life to rinse, and brush and wash? Can we expect strangers to know that they must wash their hands and rinse before talking to this child? Educate the child and make sure she has the right equipment to handle an emergency. God helps those who help themselves. Let this child learn what to look for and how to deal with it. Help prepare her for the future and help her live in the present so she can walk with us all and talk to us all. The responsibility is the childs and this childs parents

    March 24, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  61. beth pipkin

    As a parent of a perfectly healthy child, I am completly disgusted! If my child was in clas with this little girl we would be supportive and helpful, not mean and selfish. I would even try to encourage classmates to have a day were they bring a peanut free lunch and eat with the girl. why isolate her more.

    March 24, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  62. Theron Fuller

    Unfortunately, sooner or later the real world is going to insert itself into the girl's life. Sooner or later she is going to have to live in a world where everybody doesn't wash their hands or rinse their mouths because somebody they come in contact with has a peanut allergy. Sooner or later she's going to grab a door handle at a mall, or a store, or at church, or dozens of other places where somebody just finished a peanut butter cup or a Snickers candy bar and grabbed a door handle. She can't attend a baseball game because fans eat bags and bags of peanuts. She can't eat at a Chines restaurant that serves kung pao chicken. What happens if a kid at the school forgets the rules, doesn't wash his/her hands, and touches the girl after eating peanuts? Does the school suspend the offending kid? Did the school system even consult an allergist expert in peanut allergies? What if the girl was extremely allergic to fragrencies? Would all the kids have to bathe with fragrance-free soap? What if the girl was extremely sensitive to light? Would the school accommodate her by turning down all the lights in the school?

    March 24, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  63. Winch

    While I feel for the child, common sense tells you that after getting national coverage, and all the local protests at that school, if that girl wasn't already being picked on or treated with hostility , I'm sure she is now. Unfortunately, children can be cruel and I worry that this coverage may be adding fuel to the fire. I'm sure quite a few would disagree with me, but to me, it seems awfully unfair of both this girl's parents and the protesting parents to drag her through all of this.

    March 24, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  64. AL

    The "No Dogs" sign was particularly offensive. How can our society allow a 6-yr old girl, who has a disability in her life, and her family to be marginalized and harmed in this ugly manner? I echo the sentiment on the kind of values these picketing parents are passing on to their kids.

    We have kids with multiple allergies in our school. Our school district has done a wonderful job to ensure the safety of all its students. All our elementary cafeteria food is nut-free. Our school nurses go into classes and educate students on what are food allergies and how each student can help to support their friends with allergies. Proper education has fostered a strong sense of community, acceptance and kindness in the classrooms. It's heartening to know that our students,parentsand teachers are kind, accommodating and even go out of their ways to check food labels and watch out for "suspicious" food that may harm one of their friends. I am sure there are many students and parents in that Florida school who are willing to undergo a little "inconveniences" each day to safeguard a child and a friend.

    March 24, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  65. Moxiemom

    What kind of people have their children picket their classmate with a disability??? Of all the things in this world that could benefit from the time, energy and passion of these people, they choose to ostracize a child? I am beyond stunned! This is American, we take care of and include everyone – period. Give thanks that your child doesn't have a problem and extend a hand. Wow, just really, really bad people – Stunning!

    March 24, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  66. Julie

    Shame on the parents who are protesting! There is so much more to education than what kids learn in school. How about teaching the kids about respect, building community, treating others with kindness and making accommodations for those who need them. And God forbid those parents ever have a child with special needs that might inconvenience their other children or their own lives.

    March 24, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  67. Greengal

    @ Concerned: The sign reading "no dogs" is a protest against the peanut sniffing dogs that were brought to the school to sniff out any peanut products. All it says about the protesters is that they don't want their children subjected to this kind of invasive search. This article only provides one, very slanted, side of the story.

    March 24, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  68. Jordan

    There should be reasonable accomodations in public facilities, including schools, to ensure that those with disabilities can have access to them.

    That being said, "reasonable accomodations" does NOT mean that the public has the obligation to ensure that EVERYONE has access to public facilities.

    I think the schools should provide students with peanut-free meal alternatives and I do think that this would make a wonderful opportunity for children to learn about others with disabilities and health problems and why.

    However, if you have a child who is so allergic (read: SICK) that he/she will DIE if he/she has any contract with peanuts, then YOU, parents, have the responsibility to keep them at home/put them in an alternative school that caters to your child's allergies until they are old enough to take care of themselves.

    The key here is REASONABLE ACCOMODATION. To forbid ALL the kids from eating peanuts is, I think, not reasonable. It would be better for everyone, including YOUR KID, to be home.

    March 24, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  69. Shawn Wells

    Obviously these people who are protesting about something that the majority of schools do anyway (washing hands before snacks and lunch) have not had any lessons on compassion during their entire life. We make accomodations for all students (physically disabled, hearing impaired, visually impaired, etc.). What's next? Will you demand that these children be home schooled because they take extra staff that could be used to further your child's education? Get over it. I hope your child never has to experience what this child does. If your child ends up in a wheelchair, etc. how will you feel if other parents want to ban him/her from the classroom? Also, shame on you for having your children hold up signs to promote your agenda. Children are much more compassionate and you are teaching them that this is the way to go about getting what you want. Talk about exploiting your children.

    March 24, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  70. Virginia

    This story disgusts me. How can these parents equate the right of their children not to wash their hands with the right of this child to go to school and not DIE?!! Shame on them!!! They should be thanking their lucky stars that their children don't have a life-threatening condition, and teaching their children compassion, instead of this dispicable display of selfishness.

    March 24, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  71. C'sMama

    I'm so glad to see comments in defense of this child. My son is one year old and was recently diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy. Never in a million years did I anticipate having to deal with this. I worry every day about him coming into contact with peanuts, especially since he can't speak or understand his allergy yet. Even before experiencing it personally, I can not imagine putting blame on another child for their disability. How would those parents feel if their child had to live with the knowledge that they killed another child because they didn't wash their hands....if you want to be so self-centered start thinking about that.

    March 24, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  72. Shanna

    Absurd...to think any adult with some intelligence would put a food group over a child's life, absolutely absurd! I thought we banished prejudice decades ago against people with disabilities. These protesting parents need to wake up to the reality of a CHILD, with no control of her circumstances, that she is simply a child with a disability. They need to be thankful that they have healthy children by giving back to their community with understanding and compassion to those less fortunate. Elementary years for children are very crucial. As adults, parents and teachers are purpose of life is to guide, nurture, and teach our little ones so they can grow to healthy mature adults. Apparently, the protesting parents lacked these crucial lessons. But it's not too late, their children, to include a sweet little girl with the food disorder, watches and learns from every action their parents take. The protesting parents need to withdraw their misguided signs, welcome this little girl into their community, and teach their own children morels and compassion for a human life.

    March 24, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  73. Johnny

    The kids are being asked to wash their hands and parents are upset.
    In my house we wash after using the bathroom and before we eat but I guess thats asking too much for some people. Additionally, people are upset because their kids cannot eat PB&J. PB&J is not a healthy food unless you want to pack on weight for football. PB&J is loaded with fat and sugar

    March 24, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  74. Fenbeast

    What is WRONG with these people? Is compassion completely dead in this country? How could any one be so mean spirited as to target a child who, through no fault of her own, has a health condition that requires a little extra consideration on the part of those around her? And the mere idea that washing hands, being considerate and proactive, etc., are taking away from learning? Clearly, it's the parents and not their children who need some additional education. SHAME.

    March 24, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  75. jeanne

    my granddaughter has a grape allergy and the school is very accommodating to that as well as the parents. it seems to me that the parents would act very differently if it was their child, but since it isn't they don't care if she lives or not as we all know a peanut allergy can be very deadly (a little fyi grape and peanut allergies are related) these people need to sit down and be quiet. If i was the girls parents i would insist that the school pays for private tutoring and make sure they broadcast very loudly about it and then these same protesting parents would get mad about that also, it seems they just want to be zealots without a real cause.

    March 24, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  76. Wendy

    I am the mother of a first grade boy with a life threatening peanut allergy. My son has had anaphylaxis two times in his life before age 5. I deal with this issue everyday and have anxiety over it when my son is in school What these protesters need is to witness a child having anaphylaxis. They would never want to witness it again. If the child had a reaction of this magnatude in the classroom the children would be scared and have a lifetime of nightmares. I dont think that it is too much to ask for children to wash their hands and face in order to save a life! What the protesters dont realize is that the school is protecting ALL children from such a tragic event. Just ask yourself how would your children feel if they witnessed the child die in the classroom. I cant believe how selfish people can be. My heart and compassion go out to this family. I know how you feel!
    Completely disgusted!
    Wendy

    March 24, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  77. Pennsylvaniamom

    Shame on these parents! This child did not ask for this and deserves an education and to be treated fairly! Food allergies among children is rapidly increasing in this country, so when it's your child/grandchild/nephew will you still be this selfish, uncaring and rude? I have a child with a severe nut allergy. It took lots of planning and yearly meetings with his teachers and cafeteria workers, but we kept him safe, and happy. He sat at a peanut free table, and his friends could sit with him if their lunch was "peanut free" and checked by a teacher. The only complaints we got were from parents whose kids wanted to eat lunch with my son and they had a hard time finding new things to eat for lunch. Educate your teachers, cafeteria workers, teachers aide's and foodworkers and the children too. If you work together you can make this a positive experience for everyone.

    The people picketing and speaking out against this little girl are ignorant and rude and should be ashamed of their actions that exclude children because of a physical condition. Thank God they are usually the minority!

    March 24, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  78. Bonnie

    My son has the same allergy and I was a little surprised at the reaction of other parents. It's as if my son was infringing on their child's "God-given right" to smear peanut butter on all surfaces of the lunch room. Class parties were a nightmare. I was never pushy and didn't even ask that they not serve treats with nuts in them. I simply asked that they tell me if the treats contained nuts or peanut butter. There was a lot of obnoxious comments even about this request. I couldn't trust these dolts so I attended each and every class party just to keep him safe.

    Funny thing... the lunchroom wasn't really a problem. The school nurse talked to the classes of kids with food allergies. The kids, especially the little girls, saw it as their job to protect their classmates and separated the kids eating peanut butter sandwiches from those with the allergies. Even in high school these same kids remember.
    Kids are amazing. Tell them what's going on, how they can help, and they will. Parents? Your children were happy to help their classmate until you stuck your nose into it. Learn from them.

    March 24, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  79. Mike

    My son also has a peanut allergy–thankfully it is not as severe as some have related, but it can be pretty bad. I was shocked recently when the school nurse called me and explained that while she was treating him the custodians were doing a top to bottom cleaning of the cafeteria where another student had brought in snacks containing peanuts. I was grateful they were so concerned but also felt guilty that so much attention was focused on him. If your kids are free from allergies, be glad. If they're not, teach them to avoid snacks made by others as well as commercial products that are shown to contain peanuts.

    March 24, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  80. Kris

    The picketing parents in this case are nuts. Picketing because their kids are asked to wash their hands and around their mouths after eating to protect someone else is just purely ridiculous.

    As someone else pointed out, is asking kids to do hygiene that they should be doing anyway really an issue? They are not being restricted from anything. Sometimes adults act like they have no brain and this is just a perfect example.

    The steps are reasonable and the protesting parents need to get over it. This is a disability and the school has to make accomodations. Once again, GET OVER IT. Teach your kids that there are times in life that you have to be compassionate and accomodate the needs of others OVER your own wants/needs. This is an opportunity to teach them a pretty good life lesson. Instead, you stick junior on the picket line with a sign he obviously didnt write.

    March 24, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  81. V-Rose

    Wow! Amazed that parents have time to protest hand-washing and more amazed that I have time to comment on it. Last year during the Swine Flu epidemic I don't remember any protests against hand-washing or hand sanitizer. I am a teacher and I wash my hands after every class. I sanitize the door handles, the piano keys, counters and desktops. I do this myself. My school fired all its custodial staff and contracted for the work to be done. Sanitizing surfaces isn't in the contract. But, that is another topic all together. Wash your hands kids, not just because it helps your classmate but because it is just a healthy thing to do. Drink water during class–lso healthy and rinses your mouth. Leave your lunch in the hall along with coats and boots and backpacks and all that other stuff that gets in the way. The child with the allergy-wear gloves. Protect yourself just like your classmates are trying to protect you. All of you parents on both sides- chill. There are so many more important things out there to worry about for school children right now. Put your energy into working for adequate funding, reasonable class sizes, and real education instead of test taking. ( Talk about a poor use of class time, but again, that is another topic.)

    March 24, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  82. Kevin

    As a parent of two children with food allergies, I am obviously 100% behind the parents of the child with the peanut allergy. I think it is disgusting of the other parents to picket over this issue. While I would never wish a disability upon another person, I think it would be very educational for one of the parents doing the protesting on the streets to have a child with a food allergy.

    March 24, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  83. Kimberly

    this story just made me angry! any of those picketing parents would want the same accomodations made for their child if it were them! and it's oh so obvious that it makes waaaayyyy more sense to picket the school an cause major disruption to their childrens learning process that way! so the kids have to wash their hands, rinse out their mouths, and help out a fellow student. all that teaches them is good hygene habits and compasion...and it's quite apparent to me by the actions of their parents that school is the ONLY place they are going to learn compassion because they arent going to learn it from their grossly selfish parents! sounds to me like these parents need to get a different hobby! shame on them!

    March 24, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  84. Bonnie Roberts

    If it was their child, would these parents feel differently? You know, health recommendations are that you should wash your hands before and after you eat anyways. These children are being taught by their parents that they should not care for others, but only themselves. The parents of these children, and the children themselves will be the people who walk down the street and ignore an injured person lying on the sidewalk. So, tell me parents, If you seen someone hit by a car would you dial for an emergency or would this inconvenience you by using minutes on your phone? Do you teach your children to wash their hands after sneezing? Would you expect other children to wash their hands so that your child would not contract an illness? Have you thought about what you are actually teaching your children? Have you thought about the impact that you are having on this 6 year old child, who is not at fault for having an allergy? Do you think you're selfish? I think you need to ponder these question parents!

    March 24, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  85. Judith Cunningham

    Does this child or the parents of this child ever expect that she will venture out to public places like theaters, playgrounds, libraries, or eventually get a job?? SHE needs to be taught to protect herself. She does not need to depend on the school for constant protection, because she will not have it anywhere else she goes in life. They're just teaching her that she's a sickly, wimpy kid. Not a good idea.

    March 24, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Erica

      She does but she is 6 years old first grader.. She probably knows to be very careful about what to put into her mouth but she cannot know what other people have so she needs help until she is old enough..there is a 7th grader in Chicago died of peanut allergy before winter break of 2010. She died during a party in school from food because there was trace of peanut protein in the food

      March 24, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  86. luckymom

    This is ridiculous! These parents are misguided, ignorant bullies. How would they feel if this were their child? There is a wonderful opportunity here to teach these young children compassion, empathy, kindness, and good hygeine. Instead these children are being taught selfishness, and to bully one that is different.
    And to the statements that 30 minutes of education a day is lost? Really? When was the last time any of these parents spent a day in an elementary school? HOURS a week are spent on 'time wasting' busy work not to mention the time 'wasted' on children that need extra attention due to acting out. And for the record I feel most teachers do an excellent job, and these 'time wasters' are part of educating young children.
    These parents need to stop and take a serious good look at themselves. I hope Karma does'nt come a give them a good kick in the butt with a disability for their child. However if it did, I'm sure they would be the first to call for equal treatment. And their child would be deserving of good treatment. Just like this child

    March 24, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  87. monica

    I went to a peanut free school.
    I don't think it's fair, kids with peanut allergies get special treatment but other kids with other life threatening allergies don't get the same.
    That little girl should just be home schooled if its that bad.

    March 24, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  88. kegan

    This is not the first district to deal with life threatening peanut allergies and there are abundant "best practices" available on dealing with this issue. The cafeteria could have a peanut table, where children with PB & J's go to sit when they have that sandwich versus making one child eat alone every day. There are hand sanitizer pumps that could be installed by the caferteria walls for a quick spritz in and out of the cafeteria, it's good practice for all kids. The school could have tastings of Sunbutter, which is the sandwich spread made from sunflower seeds and tastes pretty good with jelly. The school district is right to accomodate the children, they could be liable if they did not. Children with disabilities have the right to a free and appropriate education. Parents should really spend their time fighting for better teachers in their classrooms and they should be examples of good, inclusive behavior for their children. Parents need to understand that there is no constitutional "right" for a child to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in school.

    March 24, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  89. LMcDonald

    Wow, parents having a meltdown about their kids washing their hands? Something they should be doing anyway???? AND WE ALL KNOW THE DANGERS OF RINSING YOUR MOUTH!!!!! OMG there may be a reduction of cavity's!!!!!!! Seriously people, how devastating would it be for your kid to watch one gasp for breath and DIE????? I BET that WOULD be MORE devastating!!!! You people need to get it together. A few common sense hygiene DEAL. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED ATTACKING A CHILD!!!!

    March 24, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  90. Eric

    This truly does display the selfishness and heartlessness that exists in our society. For parents to demand that a child be punished for something completely out of her control is an outrage. Shame on these parents and kudos to the school district for not backing down. As a citizen I'm embarrassed by all of these protesting parents for showing such a lack of compassion and decency. We as a people are better than this.

    March 24, 2011 at 10:50 am |
  91. Mich. Parent

    As a parent of a child with life-threatening allgergies, this is heartbraking. Our school has been fairly supportive, taking protective measures for our daughter and yet she still feels self-conscious about her allergies. I don't think that child can be safe at a school where parents and children are protesting and openly hostile.

    Our school principal asked us if it was possible for our child to have a reaction after touching playground equipment that had been touched by another child with nut residue. Yes. They even offered to clean the playground equipment daily! However, I told them I didn't think that was reasonable. While I wish the school would decide on its own to go nut-free, I told them I was not going to push for it and have unhappy parents/school staff directly their frustration at my child. I don't think we can eliminate the risk of anaphylactic reactions at school, I do think there are reasonable actions (hand-washing included) that can minimize the risk of a child dying at school.

    March 24, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  92. Andrew

    God forbid we teach our children about good hygiene and educate them on the awareness of others handicaps and allergies. This is ridiculous. I see these kids picketing with their parents and don't even know why. Shame on you parents teaching your kids that this poor girl is the problem. The only problem I see is a group of ignorant self centered people that believe we should segregate our schools of anyone who has a handicap. The schools have an obligation to protect these kids. ALL of them.

    March 24, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  93. DD

    Shame on these parents that are protesting, what an unfortunate display of selfishness and lack of compassion. What a horrible message they are sending to ther own children. The student with the peanut allergy has the RIGHT to be in school.

    March 24, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  94. MLP

    What is wrong with people? Protesting because it isn't "fair"?? What exactly isn't "fair"? Oh, how horrible that kids are being asked to wash their hands...excuse me, but isn't that a good idea regardless? Rinse out their mouths? That adds about 2 seconds while they are washing their hands. Why exactly do kids "need" to eat peanuts. If you're not allergic, fine, have it at home. The only reason people demand that their kids eat peanuts in school is because they can and people selfishly feel like they have to exercise some god given right. B S How is it "fair" that a child has to go through life afraid to smell a cupcake? How about a little empathy? I guess these people are incapable of that. Well, I hope others are as accommodating as these folks are when their kid has some crisis in life. Karma baby.

    March 24, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  95. Angie Welch

    I am so disappointed to hear that parents of healthy children would want to have a child with a disability homeschooled!!! I am a mother of a son with severe allergies including peanuts! I am also an elementary teacher!! My school has went peanut free due to my son! Parents complained at first that the only thing their child would eat for lunch was peanut butter and jelly. Are you kidding me? I talked with many angry parents and the bottom line is your child being asked to not eat peanut butter at school may seem an inconvinience but it is keeping me from possibly planning my child's funeral. How silly these parents are to be so angry over this issue. If it was their child in this position they would want what is best for their child to remain healthy and safe. These children with allergies already feel so different from others and then these parents want them to be isolated even more by being homeschooled! Rediculous!! I worry every time my child goes to a friends house to hang out. I have to educate every parent we are in contact with. I have to ask at every birthday party my child attends what will be served, can I see the ingredients that is in the cake, ice cream. My son who is 9 pretty much goes without any sweets at parties because he is afraid it might have peanuts even if I have checked the lables. Can you imagine always worrying about what you put into your mouth!! These parents need to grow up act like adults and teach their children about how to HELP this child be NORMAL instead of making her feel even WORSE!!

    March 24, 2011 at 9:58 am |
  96. Brit

    Also, I don't see how parents picketing is going to help this situation. Go to a school board meeting or speak with administration. This little girl doesn't need to feel any more different than she probably already feels.

    March 24, 2011 at 9:53 am |
  97. Brit

    I have this same severe peanut allergy, and I was this child's age in the early 90s. I am very torn about this story. I know what it is like to feel 'weird' because of this. My parents started teaching me to avoid peanuts very early in life. I never had any kind of special accomodation in school other than to let the teachers ands students know about my problem. I knew to not touch anything that might have peanuts in it and to not eat anything that I was unsure of. I think this girl is old enough to be taught to be safe and to protect herself. She should be carrying an Epi-Pen at all times in her backpack, and her teacher/school administration should be taught how to use her. Her classmates should also be taught to keep their hands to themselves (that should be taught anyways). I don't see a problem with the extra hand washing – that will prevent the spread of germs anyways. I hope this girl can have a normal life with her allergy like I have had. Sometimes it's a pain and it's not always easy, but it's possible to live without it dominating her life. My brother and I both do it each day.

    March 24, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  98. DisgustedMom

    Seeiously parents, get over yourselves! Imagine this is YOUR child, that YOUR child could die from exposure to anything peanut! Would it be too much to ask people to wash their hands twice daily?!?! Think of all the things that you and your kids take for granted that this child cannot do for fear of dying; eating out at a restaurant, riding the bus, going to an overnight camp, having cupcakes in school for your birthday, staying over at a friends house...the list goes on and on. Perhaps this additional hand washing will help keep the rest of the kids from getting sick as often! I cannot even believe this is an issue.

    March 24, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  99. Concerned

    It seems to me like there has to be more behind the scenes of this story. These people are fighting that their children simply wash their hands and rinse their mouths? Those kids should be brushing their teeth after eating, and washing their hands periodically throughout the day anyway!! They can't ask their kids to wash their hands an extra time because it might save a life?!?

    What's up with the kid holding a sign that says "No Dogs?" What does that say about the protesters...

    March 24, 2011 at 9:50 am |
  100. Mrs. S

    Kudos to the school superintendent who spoke on the Today show. We have compassion for animals for the Earth but not for Human beings???
    It shows what kind of values these parents have in this school. They need to focus on the bigger problems in life!!!! This little girl eats alone in her classroom at lunchtime everyday and they go to the lunchroom and eat anything they want. This is a heartless display to someone with a disability. They should all be ashamed of their actions!!!!!!

    March 24, 2011 at 9:48 am |
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