This morning I met with our school’s principal and superintendent to discuss the aforementioned food allergy incident. WeÂ opened John’s 504 and discussedÂ the ways inÂ which the situation could have been prevented. First and foremost, I wanted them to be aware that I don’t like to directly place blame on one individual but rather that a mistake occurred, and that new precautions needed to be in place. We added some new criteria for John’s 504 Plan that ensures (hopefully) no food will be served to John unless it is approved by me. As I like to say to John’s school, “The buck stops with me”. No school wants the liability of having to decode hidden food allergens in food labels, and nor should they. The best advocate for our children is really us, as their parents.
Once we hammered out that situation I revisited the prospect of changing the Birthday Treat Policy. I felt that the food allergy incident was a wake up call to once and for all start moving in a direction that ultimately creates a healthier and safer environment for not only our food allergic children, but for all children (including those with diabetes, celiac, etc.). I specifically only target the Birthday Treat issue because it is the most logical next step. Many teachers in our school already celebrate birthdays in a non food manner, but it should really be a policy district wide. Once and for all it would eliminate any gray areas of “Can we?” or “Can’t we?”, and adds another layer of protection in the classroom for those with food allergies. It also promotes a healthier environment.
I reiterated to the administration that a No Food Birthday TreatÂ Policy would most likely be heralded by most parents because it is overall a healthier choice. In today’s environment when we are battling epidemic numbers of childhood obesity it can only be a good thing. This policy I proposed only applies to Birthday Treats, because quite frankly it is the only policy that can be mandated at this time. A general No Food policy is unrealistic and I have to admit there are times when certain celebrations can add to our children’s education experience (like my daughter’s 3rd grade Heritage Celebration). This policy also wouldn’t ban food from holiday parties. Per John’s 504 Plan, I will be able to retain control over the food that comes into my son’s classroom, so I will be able to continue to do what I have always done; bring in all the treats for those parties. I always bring in a treat from my book and fresh fruit kabobs or veggie trays. As a side note, the kids LOVE the fresh fruit and the trays are always cleared.
The response from my principal and superintendent was overwhelmingly positive and they were eager to do all they could to help make the Birthday Treat Policy a reality. I think we all agreed that the policyÂ writtenÂ two years ago probably needs to be update to reflect our changing environment. And they agreed that this type of policy change isÂ tangible. They will meet with their administration councilÂ at the end of this month to discuss the issue. I am very hopeful that we could see a No Birthday Treat Policy in the near future. I will keep you all posted.
Thanks so much to all of you who posted your comments and suggestions. I always learn so much from your experiences as well, and take them with wherever I go to advocate.