That’s what a school board member in Gurnee, IL had to say about the new state mandate requiring school boards in Illinois to have a food allergy policy in place by January 1st, 2011. Read the full text here. School board member Catherine Campbell went on to say that their school (Woodland District 50) is “an educational institution and not a health care facility” and that she “thinks it is the most ridiculous thing they have to do”. She voted against the policy but it was approved through a majority vote.
But it gets better. The PRESIDENT of the school board, Lawrence Gregorash commented “This isn’t the dumbest thing I’ve seen in my 64 years…but it sure ranks in the top 10.” Although he also said “I think members of this board are very concerned about children and they’re very concerned about allergies”. But he apparently isn’t a fan of being required by the state to have a policy in place that is unfunded.
Like many of you reading this, I’m beyond incensed by these irresponsible and downright ridiculous comments by elected school board officials in Gurnee. I could rattle off lots of statistics to back the statement that food allergies harm and kill children. But I won’t waste too much energy on people who clearly haven’t taken the time to read WHY the state did this. Shall I remind them that a 13-year-old Chicago girl just lost her life two weeks ago because a food allergy policy wasn’t in place for her at her school?
It is a silent disability that can’t be seen, but it is there for these children 24/7. Their lives are put in serious danger every time they come in contact with food they are allergic to. School board members who blatantly disregard a state law and calls it “absurd” should be questioned, as these are the people who make the policies and decisions that affect the safety and well-being of children in their school district. Perhaps these two board members simply don’t understand the seriousness of food allergies. In that case, act as an educated grown up and do a little research.
These children need to be protected and advocated for, and if the very people who were elected to serve in this capacity can’t respect and follow a law that protects food allergic children, then they should reconsider their purpose in serving. What’s next? Cutting special education services because you don’t understand autism? Or perhaps you don’t think sensory integration disorder is a real diagnosis? Or maybe you think kids with learning disabilities will do just fine without any additional help in the classroom? ALL these kids have rights, including those with food allergies. Disregarding a law because you don’t understand or perhaps just disagree with it is totally irresponsible.
People like Catherine Campbell and Lawrence Gregorash, who make “dumb” comments without considering the safety and well-being of EVERY child in their school district, really should get with the program and at least attempt to understand the growing problem of food allergies in schools. And as the saying goes, the train is leaving the station….either you’re on it, or you’re not.