I am a huge fan of the Food Allergies Forum. I blogged about it in December and I continue to read and learn daily from this site. Often, I’ve seen reference made to a legal case involving a 504 plan, Mystic Valley.
The Mystic Valley Charter School was brought before the court due to their refusal to create a peanut/tree nut free classroom for a child with life-threatening food allergies. The parents felt that the classroom, which was also a makeshift lunch room and snack area, was an unsafe environment. Their child had previously reacted to a peanut product eaten by a classmate. They also brought up segregation issues due to extended amounts of time their child was required to sit at the peanut free table, approximately an hour daily. Furthermore, they felt the education of the other students would not be negatively impacted and thus the request should be included in the 504 plan. The school stated that “reasonable accommodations” had been provided through an IHP and the current 504. The school also claimed that the burden of a nut free classroom would be too great for the personnel. The court had to decide if the request for a peanut/tree nut free room was reasonable and feasible.
The court found in favor of the student. Personally, reading the case gives me hope that cross contamination issues and children who are contact reactive will be recognized by schools as needing more restrictive policies. The increase of food allergies in children is requiring schools to put their personal agendas aside and accommodate all the needs of food allergic children.
When I called my lawyer and asked if this case could help our child, she said (this is not verbatim...) that because I don’t live in Massachusetts it is unlikely. However, she did say that the Mystic Valley case does give credence to the food allergy issues in school and is a positive step in the right direction for food allergic children all over the country.