A mother whose four-year-old child has an extreme and potentially deadly allergy to peanuts is requesting that his school alter its policies to make it a safer place her son.
Laura Coleman said that her son Kendrick almost died when he went into anaphylactic shock after eating peanut butter when he was just one year old.
Now four years old, Kendrick is so sensitive to peanuts that he has to carry an Epi Pen and other medication with him at all times.
Coleman wants Kendrick’s school, Woodward-Granger Elementary, to require that all kids wash their hands when they walk into the building and before and after eating.
The concerned mother also wants his classroom to be entirely peanut-free, and would like a separate table to be established for kids who bring lunches from home so that Kendrick isn’t accidentally exposed to peanuts.
Coleman says that under the Americans with Disabilities Act, “life-threatening peanut allergies are a disability” and thus, “the school has to make reasonable accommodations.”
“If he were in a wheelchair it would be completely different. They would not be hesitating to make any kind of accommodations for his needs,” Coleman said.
Although the question might very well be one of life and death for her son, Coleman said that the district is hesitating.
Superintendent Brad Anderson said that while peanuts and peanut-related products are banned from the schools, food items labeled as “may contain peanuts” are allowed.
Anderson said that while the district does what it can to prevent kids with allergies from being accidentally exposed to peanuts, it is still nearly impossible to prepare for all situations.
“You never know what’s going to walk in your door in the morning. It could be on a student’s bag. It could be on the bottom of their shoe,” Anderson said.
“Are we ever going to be able to eliminate them all? No. Unfortunately,” Anderson added.
In response to the people who might suggest that she homeschool her son if she is so concerned about exposing him to peanut butter, Coleman said, “My response to that is always, if you want your child to be able to eat peanut butter or whatever, whenever they want, why don’t you just home school?”
On Monday, district officials agreed to consider two changes: launching a new program to educate children about the dangers their classmates might face, and creating an “allergy aware” table in the lunchroom.