Monday, March 14, 2011

The Attack on Food Allergy Accomodations in Schools

I recieved this email today through one of my local food allergy groups and thought I'd share it with you all to join in the fight.

While this fight is about peanut allergies, it is not a stretch to see how the outcome of this will affect all of us with food allergies, especially corn which is just as hard if not harder to avoid.

"The mother of the allergic child at the center of a school controversy in Florida has asked for some help. The details of what you could do to help are here. If you haven't been following this story, click on the link below.

So very many of you have asked if there is absolutely anything that can be done to help the family being harassed and bullied about the food allergy accommodations their daughter receives at her elementary school here in Florida. I finally do have contact information for the school and district, as well as state level agencies, where you can let your opinions be heard, as well as a request from Tracey, the mom.

First, the bad news: there have been so many threats made against their child by parents in online comments, such as putting peanut oil on their own child's backpack, that the family has decided it is no longer safe to send their daughter to school. These protesters have successfully managed to bully a six year old out of school, because of her disability.

Before I set all of you loose, though, I want to give you a word of warning. I can tell you that personally, my blood is boiling. The temptation to just breathe fire through the phone line is awfully hard to resist.

Then I remember how the story has played out in the media. Exaggerations and outright lies have been presented as fact in a "controversy" about "extreme measures" that are "depriving other children of their right to an education."

As hateful as these parents are, they have presented themselves with enough media savvy to make it a story about wanting "compromise" about the accommodations, rather than about a pack of bullies endangering a child's life.

The narrative needs to be fixed.

If you are willing to take the time to send an email or pick up the phone to make a call, remember that the recipient is most likely an innocent school or state employee who has suddenly found him or herself in the middle of a hailstorm. Remember, you are contacting them as a Deeply Concerned Parent, not a Raving Freaking Lunatic.

Just because you know that you are the good guy, doesn't mean that anyone else does. So make sure that your words and tone demonstrate that.

These are a few suggestions:

Explain your concern for this child's safety and well being.
Respectfully ask that, although you understand privacy restrictions, that the school speak up to the media to accurately describe the accommodations this child has received.
Ask what anti-bullying measures are in place, and how they intend to protect children from this kind of hatred.

Spring break started yesterday in Volusia County, adding even more to the hit and run nature of this bullying campaign, but here is the contact information:

Edgewater Elementary School Principal Linda Moore: 386-426-7300.
Volusia County School Superintendent: 386-734-7190. (Follow prompts for operator and ask for Superintendents Office.)
The Florida Department of Education: 850-245-0438.
James Holland, Director of Professional Standards: 386-734-7190 ext. 20256. (This one is to report school misconduct, so make sure you have a Specific Complaint, not a Wild Accusation.)

In the comments of the previous post, Kyra was kind enough to also share the district's email contact information:

Principal Lynda Moore: lmoore(at)
Assistant Principal Stephanie Eafford: saeffor(at)

Finally, here is the request from Tracey. It appears that in some of the comments by parents in the news stories online, there have been details of her daughter's medical plan, however distorted, that could have only been revealed by a member of the school's staff. If you are brave enough to go on troll patrol, see if you can find any of these comments. If you find them, please copy and paste the comment or take a screen shot if you can (in case it is deleted) and email it and the link to the page to me at allergiesmom[at]gmail[dot]com. I'll sift through the duplicates and make sure that they reach Tracey.

Thank you so much for your compassion and zeal in defense of her daughter." Email written by SunConnor of Austin Families with Food Allergies.

Please help if you can. The fight for our children's rights to an education is an important fight for us to band together.

Thank you!

1 comment:

Libby said...

Thanks so much for spreading the word about this. As horrible as the situation is, I love the way so many in the food allergy community have leaped to this little girl's defense.