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PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 1:11 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2010 1:05 am
Posts: 5
Hello Everyone:

First off my wife and I would like to express our gratitude to all those involved in the making, and upkeep, of this site. We are both so thankful to have found this site and appreciative all the knowledge and support of its members.

Still, my wife and I are still rather concerned about the safety and educational opportunities for our six year old son. His primary allergens are dairy products and eggs. Because we believe, as does our paediatric allergist, that our son is a strong candidate for an anaphylactic reaction when exposed to such allergens we have decided that we would like my wife to be in the class until we are comfortable that our son will be safe. However, our son’s designated classroom teacher, and the other grade one teacher, are adamant that they will not have parents within their classrooms. Needless to say, we find this absurd. We are really not certain as to when the rights of a teacher superseded the rights of keeping a child safe.

It should be noted that, the designated teacher of our son believes that she can keep him safe; however, we feel that she is not adequately trained and does not have the ability to safely look after our son while simultaneously doing her regular duties.

Although we do acknowledge that our son will eventually have to assume responsibility for his allergies, we currently feel that our son is too young and inexperienced to assume much of this responsibility and consequently needs the full-time support of either my wife or a trained aid.

Our school district, in British Columbia, is not prepared to give our son an aid to assist in these matters as it claims there is not any such designation for students with anaphylaxis within the realm of special education.

In the interim, all of our family is experiencing considerable anxiety over this problem and this will certainly only further serve to exacerbate my son’s comfort level at school and impede his academic and social achievement.

We both strongly believe that our son needs to be in the public school system and would appreciate anyone’s advice as to how we could advocate for his safety and needs.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 2:05 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:45 pm
Posts: 790
Location: Vancouver, BC
Hi there,

Welcome to the site. I was also incredibly grateful to have found this site when we were first diagnosed, and continue to find it useful on many levels.

With regards to the school, I had a meeting with the principal in May prior to my daughter starting Kindergarten there. I found out what they were doing for another child with allergies, and made suggestions for what I felt would be needed to be added or changed. I drafted up an Anaphylaxis Management Plan for the school, as one didn't exist before. I used tools from this site: http://www.allergysafecommunities.ca/pa ... p?catid=11 and made changes to their samples as necessary. I'm fortunate that the principal has been very understanding and accommodating, and I'm hoping that once the precedent has been set, if/when we get a new principal, the procedures will already be in place and will continue.

I also had asked for a student support worker and was told that she couldn't have one as anaphylaxis is not designated to be a disability by the ministry. I *think* there was a child with a life threatening milk allergy in a nearby school district whose parents managed to fight for an aide to sit with her during lunch time to ensure other students' milk products didn't touch her food.

Last year, all the staff were trained on anaphylaxis and autoinjector usage on one of the first days of the school year. This year, the grade 1 teacher is new and wouldn't receive training until tomorrow, but the principal, upon my request, is having a trained support worker stay in the classroom until the teacher is trained. Apart from the school's plan, I wrote a letter to the teacher and attached a 1 pager on my DD's allergens, symptoms, protocol, and my rules for what she can and cannot eat while at school. I also provided posters to the school that show symptoms, epipen usage, 'this room is peanut/nut aware', in addition to an anaphylaxis emergency plan with her photo so any substitutes would be aware.

Regarding your wife staying in the classroom until the teacher is trained, I would continue to do this if you feel the adults are not properly able to deal with a reaction. If the teacher feels it would be disruptive to the students to have a parent in the class, perhaps you could make an arrangement to sit just outside the classroom with a book, or in a nearby office so she would be close by, but not seen by the students? I hope you can come to an agreement that works for everyone.

_________________
DD 2004 Allergy to peanuts, egg, sesame, and new: lentils and chick peas
DS 2006 Allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, kiwi fruit, eczema


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 10:29 am 
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Site Admin

Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6429
Location: Ottawa
First, know your rights. http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/health/other/ ... mework.htm

When you say,
Quote:
...the designated teacher of our son believes that she can keep him safe; however, we feel that she is not adequately trained and does not have the ability to safely look after our son while simultaneously doing her regular duties.

What training does she still require and when is that happening? What exactly are your concerns about the abilty to safely look after your son? How is the teacher prepared to keep him safe?

I would suggest meeting with the principal prior to your son starting school to iron out all of the issues.

_________________
Moderator
Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 2:35 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2010 1:05 am
Posts: 5
Hello everyone:

Unfortunately things have escalated too quickly at our school. My son's teacher is not allowing my wife in the class, starting this week, to insure the safety of our son. Here is a copy of the letter I have prepared to send to our son's teacher. Would this be considered a reasonable response:


As loving and responsible parents we ask that you reconsider your decision to not allow my wife into your class so that she may insure the safety of our son.

Although we wish to acknowledge your gracious intent to accommodate my wife for seven days within your classroom so as to facilitate a safe transition of our son from his previous classroom into yours, we were unable to effectively utilize this time as our son was ill, as is common with people with compromised immune systems, during the majority of that time period. Consequently, everyone, including yourself, was unable to avail themselves of that valuable time. Because of this, my wife wasn’t able to show you the necessary measures to help insure ---’s safety and comfort, and nor was she able to help you implement such measures. In short, the time that my wife was to be allowed in your class was extremely important, to all of us, so that we could all believe that you knew how to keep --- safe, as you previously asserted, and so we could all know that --- indeed felt safe.

However, at this moment we do not feel that --- is safe within your classroom. We do acknowledge that you have had much experience teaching and have had some small amount of experience dealing with students with allergies, but as the paediatric allergist whom looks after our son will attest to, allergies were neither as prevalent nor as serious as what they are presently. Consequently, we are also at odds as to how you could be comfortable, considering the severity of my son’s allergies, with our son in your class, without his mother, since you have clearly not been shown—as best as possible within a week--how to keep him safe. Furthermore, we find it rather surprising how you are willing to accept that responsibility without knowledge, training and especially considering the inherent challenges of managing a classroom of twenty plus six year olds. Lastly, we find it rather odd how you would not graciously accept my wife’s help in the interest of being able to successfully manage, and thereby have the opportunity to successfully teach, your entire classroom. Wouldn’t it be preferable, out of respect to the teaching profession and its responsibilities, not to have your valuable teaching time diminished by the needs of our son? In short, without ---’s mother in the classroom, we do not believe that you will be able to effectively manage, and teach, your class while being able to keep our son safe.

Not only do we not feel that you can provide a safe environment for our son, the fact of the matter is, --- does not feel safe in your class without his mother. --- knows that his allergies are life threatening. He knows that if he were to ingest one of his allergens it would be essentially the same thing as ingesting poison. He knows that he could die because of his allergies. We have told him this in the interest of keeping him safe. Furthermore, we have been told about the severity of our son’s allergies from doctors and specialists whom have supplied us with the necessary paperwork, which the school is in possession of, to substantiate both the severity of ---’s allergies and the importance of his mother being with him at school.

How can we leave our son in your care when the simple fact of the matter is that within the first week of school you have taken very few measures to insure our son’s safety. From the start of this school year to this current date, you have never made any attempt to discuss or clarify with either of us as to how you can keep our son safe. Upon the first day of class, when his mother asked if his desk was washed and ready for him you said, “I don’t know.” We also find it rather telling in regards to your commitment to his safety that you have allowed glue sticks in his class—that he is allergic to and this was explicitly documented in handout that we gave to you at our first and only meeting during the proceeding school year—for over a week long period. How can my son feel safe within your class when on a recent letter home to parents you request that Goldfish cracker boxes, which obviously contain milk products, be brought to class? Perhaps you feel that all you need to know to keep our son safe is how to operate an Epi-pen. However, this is the same logic that purports that knowing CPR will keep persons with heart disease safe. We would much prefer preventative measures to emergency measures.

If --- were to be in your class without his mother not only would he feel unsafe he would also feel a considerable amount of anxiety that would interfere with his social and academic endeavours. --- does not need this anxiety with all the other anxieties that are typical of someone who is just six years old. He does not need this anxiety while he is learning how to make friends; learning to read; learning how to act and behave.... In short, he doesn’t need this anxiety at all while he is learning how to be a typical six year old boy who is finding himself, and his way, in what can be a pretty scary world to even those without life threatening allergies.

It has come to our attention that perhaps you think that we are unreasonable people. It has come to our attention that perhaps you think that we are taking unreasonable measures to insure the safety of our son. Perhaps you think you are taking reasonable risks by leaving glue sticks to which, as previously stated, our son is allergic to within the class for over a week during the beginning of the school year. Perhaps you believe this to be reasonable because you see the risk to my son’s health by being exposed to such allergens as being ever so slight as to be negligible. Perhaps you believe we are being unreasonable because we believe the risk is too great. Cleary what is reasonable is entirely subjective: it is reasonable for you to assume a level of risk in which you are comfortable with and it is reasonable for us to assume a level of risk for which we are comfortable with, but the fact of the matter is, we are obviously comfortable with a lot fewer risks than what you are comfortable with and for us, as loving and responsible parents, this is entirely reasonable and in the best interest of our son’s health and well-being.

However, because of numerous incidents witnessed within the first week of class, which clearly jeopardized our son’s safety, we are still uncertain as to what reasons you have for believing that you can actually insure his safety and we are therefore not prepared to have in him in your class without his mother. In short, we believe your assumption that you can keep our son safe to be unreasonable.

Not only is your belief unreasonable, I really believe that your decision not to allow my wife in school to insure the safety of our son undermines the credibility, and respect, of the public education system. As a fellow teacher I always work, to the best of my ability, to do what is within the best interest of my students. My rights as a teacher, I believe, are only such that they serve what is in the best interest of the students. Your “right” to not allow my wife in the classroom, is obviously not protecting, or within the best interest, of my son nor is it within the best interest of any other student within your class. We are not certain as to why you don’t accept this as an opportunity to help educate your students. What a teachable moment this provides: student accommodation; a respect for differences; the importance of hygiene and cleanliness... If you are working from the premise that my son needs a trained aid and not a parent in the class, wouldn’t you allow my wife in your class, because it is in the best interest of my son, until a trained aid were available?

Furthermore, I cannot begin to describe the amount of grief and stress your decision has imposed upon our entire family. Everyone in this family is so distraught concerning the ramifications of your decision. My son is upset that he will miss time with his friends. My wife is upset because she knows that this will be the first of, what we suspect will be, many times when our son and his needs will be considered a burden, and therefore an unwelcome imposition. And I am upset for so many reasons. I am upset for so many reasons let alone the fact that any missed time from school for my son will be during such formative times when friendships and bonds are being established. I know it will be difficult for my son to miss time and try for another smooth transition, at presumably a much later date, into your classroom. I know that this would be unacceptable for me.

Consequently, we are not at all prepared to give up on this. There is too much at stake here. As was stated earlier, both the prevalence and severity of allergies have increased. Many students are not being accommodated: they are being denied their fundamental rights to an education. Many parents are led to believe that home schooling is their only viable option. There needs to be much more public awareness of these issues. Perhaps you are inadvertently going to be instrumental in bringing these issues to the public’s attention. Perhaps you will be given a chance to show how “reasonable” your side of the argument is. However, we do not want this to happen. We believe that there are better ways in which to make the public aware of the difficulties that students with allergies, and their parents, face in respect to their accommodation within public schools. We believe that those involved within the public education system should be showing what progressive things we can accomplish if we work together.

We sincerely want our son to be in your class. We have heard many good things about you as a teacher and we acknowledge, and respect, your considerable experience as a teacher. We really wish that you reconsider your previous decision not to let my wife in your classroom and in the interest of all involved we wish that you do so quickly so as to not let our son, and my family, suffer any more than what we have.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 8:26 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 9:40 pm
Posts: 2034
Location: ottawa
An amazing, articulate letter. Again, you are extremely articulate .
What is odd to me is that parents are constantly asked to help in the classroom. I would see the issue if your wife wanted to spend 3 months in the classroom but it appears to me (as an allergic mom) that your request is fair and reasonable. From what you outline I too would feel very uncomfortable leaving my son in the care of this teacher. She doesn't appear to be investing much interest in communicating with you both the exact measures of your son's care.

I have found that those who become exasperated as they 'know it all already' when I try explain them something about our son health care/situation are usually the exact people who DON'T get it but THINK they do, an attitude which could be potentially deadly for our son.

If this teacher would just have a heartfelt discussion with you both and then allow your wife in for a short period of time all involved would feel a little more comfortable.

Either way, reasonable or unreasonable (in another's perspective) you have the right to protect your child. Any teacher you would think (no matter the student's issue) would want every child and parent to feel the most at ease they could and would want to work with the parents to ensure a safe happy child.
As Susan always says "dead is dead" and with our children's lives we just can't compromise.

Good luck.

_________________
DD 12 yrs -no allergies
4 yr old DS - asthma/eczema Anaphylactic to Peanuts, all tree nuts, sesame , all pea/lentil legumes, gelatin.
Allergic to trees, grass,ragweed, feathers, dander, mold and dust.
Outgrew eggs, fish, shellfish


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:03 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 05, 2010 11:37 am
Posts: 1523
Location: Alberta
I wish I knew what to say to help you.

When we moved, my DS was in Grade one and not adjusting very well, we had to move late in the school year and away from his nana. I went for lunch every day with him and am so happy I did, (getting to know everyone this way is great and important even if they don't have a medical issue),although the teacher advised against it and thought it would be better for me to "help out" elsewhere in the school marking things and him knowing I was there close by would be enough. I disagreed. While my DS has no life-threatening allergies, his sister does, and I was very suprised how supervision was handled in the classroom while I was there.

I was not vocal at all about anything I saw at the time and am very sorry about that. Now that I'm fifty I seem to have a broken filter between my brain and my mouth, say what I think and try to make change for the better. I admire your stance.


Michele

_________________
Myself - Seasonal, cats
dd-asthma (trigger - flu) anaphylactic to eggs, severe allergies to bugspray and penicilin,pulmicort
ds-Seasonal, cats and OAS
dh-allergy cats, bugspray and guava, outgrew egg allergy


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 8:32 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 05, 2010 11:37 am
Posts: 1523
Location: Alberta
Alison's Mom wrote:
Last year, all the staff were trained on anaphylaxis and autoinjector usage on one of the first days of the school year. This year, the grade 1 teacher is new and wouldn't receive training until tomorrow, but the principal, upon my request, is having a trained support worker stay in the classroom until the teacher is trained. Apart from the school's plan, I wrote a letter to the teacher and attached a 1 pager on my DD's allergens, symptoms, protocol, and my rules for what she can and cannot eat while at school. I also provided posters to the school that show symptoms, epipen usage, 'this room is peanut/nut aware', in addition to an anaphylaxis emergency plan with her photo so any substitutes would be aware.


I love this part!!! At least it's a starting point.

Michele

_________________
Myself - Seasonal, cats
dd-asthma (trigger - flu) anaphylactic to eggs, severe allergies to bugspray and penicilin,pulmicort
ds-Seasonal, cats and OAS
dh-allergy cats, bugspray and guava, outgrew egg allergy


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 8:37 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 05, 2010 11:37 am
Posts: 1523
Location: Alberta
[quote="BC2007" I have found that those who become exasperated as they 'know it all already' when I try explain them something about our son health care/situation are usually the exact people who DON'T get it but THINK they do, an attitude which could be potentially deadly for our son.
[/quote]


Me too. And they have fluff in their ears.

Michele

_________________
Myself - Seasonal, cats
dd-asthma (trigger - flu) anaphylactic to eggs, severe allergies to bugspray and penicilin,pulmicort
ds-Seasonal, cats and OAS
dh-allergy cats, bugspray and guava, outgrew egg allergy


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:58 am 
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Site Admin

Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6429
Location: Ottawa
When I encounter those who know it all, I simply ask them what measures they plan to have to implement to address -----.
You won't get very far spoon feeding answers to this type. You need to let them see where they can improve. If you let them save face, you will create an ally.

_________________
Moderator
Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2010 1:53 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2010 1:05 am
Posts: 5
Thank you all for your comments and concern. Your support and this community is much appreciated.

Unfortunately, today was not the best of days for us. My wife was not allowed to enter the school today and, I guess, we unfortunately found the following statement to be false within our school district:
BC2007 wrote:
Either way, reasonable or unreasonable (in another's perspective) you have the right to protect your child.

On Friday my wife was told, by --- in administration, that they could under Section --- of the
School Act have her removed from the school with the assistance of the police if she were to attempt to be in our son's teacher's classroom.
My son is upset. My wife is in tears. And I'm so disillusioned by the whole school system.
Obviously, I want to fight this but I don't know where to begin. We are looking at the Human Rights Coalition in our province and will be consulting with Anaphylaxis Canada. I am thinking about just going to a newspaper and finding out what public support would be like for something like this but I also want to make sure that we serve the community of those who suffer from anaphylaxis responsibly. Any suggestions?


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2010 7:10 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 9:40 pm
Posts: 2034
Location: ottawa
:frightened WOW!!

Can you find another school for your DS? I know there is always two sides to every story but it appears from what you have said that this teacher really has her feathers in a ruffle.
If the teacher had sat down with you and your wife, had a in depth discussion regarding your son (allergies, symptoms, classroom care) do you think this issue would have ended days ago with no incident?

Would you mind telling us what province you are in?

_________________
DD 12 yrs -no allergies
4 yr old DS - asthma/eczema Anaphylactic to Peanuts, all tree nuts, sesame , all pea/lentil legumes, gelatin.
Allergic to trees, grass,ragweed, feathers, dander, mold and dust.
Outgrew eggs, fish, shellfish


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2010 7:18 am 
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Site Admin

Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6429
Location: Ottawa
First, I'd pull my child out of school until this is resolved.
Does your Ministry or Education have an Education Officer? they will liase between the parents and the school board.
It sounds as if you have tried to make your concerns clear to the school, now it's time to go up the chain of command.
Having someone laize for you creates a buffer and that can ease tensions on either side.
Do not focus on who did what, get a clear plan of what you want to accomplish and how you see that happening. Stick to this.
Forget the past and move forward.

_________________
Moderator
Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 10:06 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 05, 2010 11:37 am
Posts: 1523
Location: Alberta
Just wondering - how are you guys doing? I've had you on my mind and have been thinking good thoughts your way.


Michele

_________________
Myself - Seasonal, cats
dd-asthma (trigger - flu) anaphylactic to eggs, severe allergies to bugspray and penicilin,pulmicort
ds-Seasonal, cats and OAS
dh-allergy cats, bugspray and guava, outgrew egg allergy


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 12:47 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2010 1:05 am
Posts: 5
Thank you Michele for your kind words, interest and support. Considering the circumstances, I think I’m doing about as well as best can be expected. My wife, however, is taking this much worse than what would be considered healthy. I worry about her and of course I worry about my son.

(For those new to this topic my wife is not allowed into a teacher’s classroom to protect my son from his life threatening allergies. We assert that the teacher cannot keep my son safe and we have been told that an aid is not available. )

What I hate the most--other than the travesty being done to my son’s well-being by missing school—is just how angry I am about the whole thing. I hate being angry. I hate the way it consumes you like fire so that all you feel you have become is walking rage. I like to think of myself as a peaceful, loving soul and now, far too often, I can feel myself slipping into something I’m not only afraid of experiencing but also scared of becoming. I hate having to forcefully divert my attention and energies into a course of action that is reasonable and right. I hate all the times now wherein it seems that I am forgetting who I am and what I believe in. I recognize that anger is a good emotion in that it provides an impetus to action but I really don’t like unwillingly being totally immersed in it and having so much of my time and energies monopolized by it.

I’m also disillusioned and saddened. I became a teacher because I believe in the public education system. I believe that a student’s interest is best served by meeting others with divergent viewpoints. I believe that we need to learn how to solve problems collectively. I believe in accommodation, equal opportunity and that reason and compassion should prevail. I believe that inner peace and not money is the measure of success. I believe that might isn’t always right...and I thought that most everyone within the system also believed this.

It appears now that I’m even at odds with those within my own profession. The teacher’s union supports her decision, to not allow my wife in the class, in the interest of professional autonomy. It is at the teacher’s discretion as to whom she will allow in her class and for how long. And I can understand how this could be in the best interest of the student: there are unreasonable parents whom could jeopardize the functioning and confidentiality of the classroom and its members. Also, I can appreciate how some teachers could get nervous having a parent in the room and therefore would not be able to teach; however, I really believe that this woman is standing behind the letter of the law and not the spirit. Shouldn’t a teacher’s rights be such that they serve what is in the best interest of the student? We have a doctor’s note that states that my wife needs to be in that class for the safety and well-being of my son. Doesn’t my son have any rights in this and when did a teacher’s rights supersede a student’s rights and well-being?

Moreover, because I am a teacher, I am told that I should not be a visible advocate for my son as to not publically show dissension amongst union members. The rationale for this is that we should collectively stand behind the language of our policies. If I were to fight against the laws that protect us it would undermine their credibility and cause cracks in our very foundation. I truly and honestly respect my union, and believe that it is looking after the best interest of its members; however, as a loving and responsible father I find this issue cuts at the very core of who I am.

How can I look my son in the face, knowing that I did not do everything that was in his best interest? How can I turn my back on this and still feel whole?

I also realize that it is in the best interest of my son to keep my job and keep good standing amongst my colleagues; consequently, I am being an invisible advocate by supporting my wife as she fights this.

We are speaking with lawyers. They are speaking with lawyers.

...and meanwhile my son is missing his friends; class pictures; playing at recess; learning about others from different cultures, learning to resolve social problems. He’s missing a considerable amount of what should be cherished memories....

It’s such a heartbreaking, frustrating mess to be in.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 6:59 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 9:40 pm
Posts: 2034
Location: ottawa
Now that the union has been involved I have to ask...Did they think to have the teacher sit down with you to finally resolve some of your concerns? This entire situation sees so illogical on their part. The more stubborn the teacher and those who back her decision are becoming the more this isn't even about your son or his allergies any longer but has become about their own agenda to, well, power trip.
To be honest it would cause me to worry about the care they would provide for my child if he was able to re-attend this same school. I am not saying this would happen but my fear would be that in the case of even a mild reaction they wouldn't contact me as there would be eye rolling about not wanting to contact and involve me back at the school perceiving me to over react.

Very disturbing to say the least. Let your wife know that there are many here who fully support her and speaking for myself at least I would be doing the exact same thing she is. :huggy

_________________
DD 12 yrs -no allergies
4 yr old DS - asthma/eczema Anaphylactic to Peanuts, all tree nuts, sesame , all pea/lentil legumes, gelatin.
Allergic to trees, grass,ragweed, feathers, dander, mold and dust.
Outgrew eggs, fish, shellfish


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