UPDATE: New Policy for School Parties -opinions needed

Started by MaryM, November 13, 2017, 04:13:15 PM

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Our school tries to make the parties safe for everyone.  We have been doing it for many years.  the following email and form came home to me today.  I am not happy to say the least and am in the process of composing an email to principal, PTA president and school nurse.  So many red flags here....from medical conditions not being private to parents sending in what ever they wan if little Johnny doesn't like the food provided....Any thoughts or suggestions for me to include in my letter to the school?  DD has a 504 and I am at all of her parties but I wipers for other kids who have been denied 504 plans and whose parents work....

"Hi Lead Room Parents~

We hope you had a nice long weekend as we round the corner to Thanksgiving Break next week!

Kathy and I met with Mr. M and Mrs. S recently to touch base after the Halloween Parties (which we all so well planned and it was such a great day! Mr. M kept reiterating that when we met with him!).  There were a few day of questions that came up regarding food at parties.  THERE WERE NO ALLERGIC REACTIONS AND/OR ISSUES OTHER THAN SOME SIMPLE QUESTIONS. 

Mr. M has been in touch with the other elementary school principals regarding how they handle food at parties.   Currently, there is no district policy on this.  Some schools do no food at all.  Some do a very limited selection of foods. And some do as we currently do, and tries to account for the allergies in each class.  XX School  has a process that we are going to model after and implement going forward.

We now have a new form (below) that needs to be filled out and distributed to all the students in your respective classes. When you're planning your Winter Parties, and more specifically what food you'll be serving (and if your crafts are using any foods), this form will come into play.  You'll need to fill it out as brand and item specifically as possible.  Example "Shop Rite Brand Pretzel Sticks," "Honest Kids Fruit Punch Juice Pouches," etc.  This gives the Room Parents a second "check" if you will, regarding possible allergens.  You should first plan the party still taking into account the allergies that are in your class, and this form should account for those allergies.

The plan as of now is that these forms will be sent home by you through the students' backpacks on MONDAY DECEMBER 11th and should be returned on THURSDAY DECEMBER 14th.  The teachers will make copies to keep in the classrooms and will send them home to you on Friday Dec. 15th.

You should also send a reminder email to the class and/or work in conjunction with the classroom teacher to send this email, on Wed., 12/13 reminding parents to send it in on Thursday.

We know the outstanding question of "how do get in touch with the families who don't return them" exists.  The plan, as of right now, is to see how it goes this first time around and adjust as necessary.

Additionally going forward, Mrs. S ALWAYS welcomes conversations regarding specific allergies in your class.  In order for her to be able to manage those conversations in a timely and private manner, we are (and she is) requesting that you first email her.  If the conversation warrants anything further than email, you and she can come up with a time to speak privately.  It's tough to chat with her at school functions as those conversations are not always private, nor does she have specific allergy information with her when she's out of her office.  She (and we) thank you for your willingness to abide by this guideline.

If you have any questions and/or suggestions, please respond to me (rather than to the group), as each of you sometimes thinks of things we do not. 

We thank you for your help in implementing this new process and look forward to working together to keep our parties as successful and FUN as they've been!


CHILD'S NAME: ________________________________________________

GRADE: _________                  TEACHER: ___________________________________

We are implementing the following checklist for the foods the Room Parents will be serving at the next party. Here is the brand specific snack list for the next party—please note, the form is double sided. Please review, then check off the appropriate box for each snacked listed and both print and sign below. This form is meant to keep kids with food allergies & sensitivities safe. A child who doesn't like something served at the party is free to say no thank you to the snack.  Please return this paper by _____________

1.   ________________________________                                Yes, my child may have this snack
                      No, my child may not have this snack
                      I will provide a substitute snack

2.   ________________________________                                Yes, my child may have this snack
                      No, my child may not have this snack
                      I will provide a substitute snack

3.   ________________________________                                 Yes, my child may have this snack
                      No, my child may not have this snack
                      I will provide a substitute snack

4.   ________________________________                                 Yes, my child may have this snack
                      No, my child may not have this snack
                      I will provide a substitute snack

5.   ________________________________                                 Yes, my child may have this snack
                      No, my child may not have this snack
                      I will provide a substitute snack

6.   ________________________________                                 Yes, my child may have this snack
                      No, my child may not have this snack
                      I will provide a substitute snack

Here is a list of the food items we are planning to use in our crafts (meaning not for consumption, but perhaps we will glue them, make prints with them, etc.)

1.   _____________________________________
2.   _____________________________________
3.   _____________________________________

Any questions should be directed to your child's class' Lead Room Parent.

Thank You!

Parent Signature___________________________________________________ 

Parent Name: ______________________________________________________

Date: _____________________________________


I can't believe this!  Yes, many many red flags!  Not to mention no attempt at inclusion.  Wrong, wrong wrong..... 


Whoa - there's waaaayyy too much going on there, and it would be ridiculously easy for a mistake to happen.

How about "no food - period"?

Seriously, after what just happened last week with Elijah, this is like a complete slap in the face. 
"Speak out against the madness" - David Crosby


It's impossible to manage, I agree. 

It's over the top in its disregard for allergies, really.  It's like a stubborn workaround with the potential for unsafe foods in the classroom, parents not sending it in and having no idea what's going on, and outing the allergy kids.

It's teally making something very simple extremely complicated.
dd with peanut, tree nut and raw egg allergy


Is this for real?  I'm kind of bug-eyed just reading it. 

The biggest red flag I see here is EXCLUSION.  As in, here, check this box to EXCLUDE my child from enjoying fun things other kids get.  Oh, and some random kid may bring in a bag of trail mix with nuts in it and some ooey gooey yogurt tubes instead, because nothing on there says they are not allowed.

I'm so sorry parents of kids with allergies have to face this stuff.  I have no helpful feedback beyond 'keep all parties food-free'.  Just know that some us are backing you up in this struggle.
ANA peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, potato, sorghum


Do you have anything in her 504 regarding parties?  Is the nurse st school helpful when considering allergies?


I wish I had a moment to respond further, but yes—so many red flags. Wow. And hey—wwho knew it was such an exception that THERE WERE NO ALLERGIC REACTIONS!! Omg. That killed me.

"Wow! Like O M G. Like NObody has to go to the hospital. Yay US!! Are we awesome or what?!?"
Me: Sesame, shellfish, chamomile, sage
DS: Peanuts


No way will they get all the forms back! They're totally over complicating it and violating students health privacy rights in the process with this dopey form.

How is this different from what is done now? I might just respond with a bunch of questions and let questions show how flawed this is! What happens if food menu changes? Will ingredient labels be provided? Different sizes can have different labels etc. how will forms be processed? Who will monitor separate snacks to be sure they are safe to have in classroom? How will students right to privacy regarding their health be respected? Does this new procedure allow for exclusion?

If there's some wording from dd's 504 plan that would be helpful I would throw that in there.

They mentioned there were just some questions from past party..:I'd be so curious about that! Sounds like somebody screwed up with food brought to a party and now their way of "clamping down" is this dopey cya form.

Good luck MaryM go get them! I might leave pta president out of communication and just correspond with faculty who are responsible for kids safety? And maybe close with poor Elijah's story if they haven't heard of it!


Thanks everyone.  My take is that the "snack form" that will go home will take into account all the allergies in each class but the whole substitution thing opens up a can of worms.  And don't get me started on medical confidentiality flying out of the window.  I will write my letter today.  The PTA president was in the meeting and knows why the principal picked this protocol.  My honest opinion as to why is that he is a spineless follower. PTA president is going to call me so we can talk without a trail - she appreciates my input (he daughter has a good friend with allergies and she often contacts me before events to see if what they are considering would have safe options for DD) and will give me an idea of what the principal was thinking with this decision bc she was in the meeting.  I told her I have a clot of concerns and I would be sending a letter.  I also told her I was not trying to be difficult and the principal really should have consulted with some allergy parents if he needed ideas of what will work.  Quite honestly this new policy make it so much easier for reactions to happen bc of cross contamination.  I got the impression that the nurse was in on this meeting but I can hardly believe she'd approve this form bc she actually takes confidentiality seriously....


working on a draft letter - feel free to edit and add if you think it needs it....I have no finished my coffee yet, so please disregard grammatical errors or typos ;)

I am writing to express my concern over the new food allergy form that you have decided to use for the class parties.  While I appreciate the school's efforts to have safe parties and avoid reactions, this form has the potential to make the parties less safe.  My first concern is that this form does not take into account the confidentiality of a medical condition.  Are food allergies no longer considered a confidential medical condition?  If there is an unsafe item on the list and a parent sends the form back with their child's name and a note that the snack is not safe for them, then the room parent is privy to confidential medical information.  I have always been very open about my child's multiple, life threatening food allergies, but there are some parents who are not as open and they have the right for their child's information to remain confidential.

I am not clear on why there is an option to send in a substitution for an individual child.  The entire purpose of the room parent agreement is that these parties will be safe and inclusive for all students in the class.  The scenario I see happening with the implementation of this form is as follows:  The room parent, with a list of all allergies in their class, makes up a list of safe items to  be served at the class party.  They send the form home with each student.  A student who happens to be in a class with a student who has many allergies, sees the list, doesn't like the options and mom sees that there is the choice of sending in a substitute snack.  So, she sends cheese doodles for her son who does not like pretzels.  Said child eats his cheese doodles and then helps himself to one of the other snacks on the table and cross contaminates the snack that was safe for a dairy allergic child. If the child who is allergic to dairy then has some of that snack, there is the potential for a severe allergic reaction.   The class parties can be very busy and energetic and it is possible that the room parent might not realize that the safe food has been contaminated.  If substitute snacks are allowed to be sent in, who will check to make sure they do not contain any of the allergens in each class?  The potential for an accident is real and it really hits home since just recently  a child died because he was given one of his allergens at his preschool.  I also see the potential for the non-allergic families to see the option for a substitution and think, well we can send in whatever we want and the allergic child will bring in a safe snack.  The whole reason the room parent agreement came into existence was to avoid this.  It is not ok for the majority of the kids to have one treat and the food allergic child to have to bring a special snack for themselves.  Separate but equal does not work.  Besides the risk of cross contact there is also the emotional toll on the food allergic children.  They are seen as different, other kids figure out who has the allergies and in some cases children are bullied because of it. My child has never gone to a party outside of school without her own lunchbox full of food.  Inclusive parties at school gives her the chance to not always feel different and to feel safe
The form overcomplicates the whole process.  If the school continues to allow food at class parties, the room parent should come up with a brand specific list, email the nurse or the teacher and have them check with the parents of the food allergic children to make sure the items are safe. 

Another issue I would like to address is the disparity between the classes as parties.   I am very aware that the things we serve in her class are not as fun and exciting as the other class.  When my son was at this school we rarely had the entire school ordering pizza for the parties that fell over the lunch period.  Now it is common practice and instead of just the allergy child being excluded we have entire classes being excluded.  I know that some schools have a policy that the entire grade has the same food at their parties. This seems like a much better idea.  There is a child who has been with my child almost every year, who is friends with her, and they recently told there mom that they were upset bc they never have a pizza party because my child is in their class.  I am very concerned about resentment towards my child because of this.  I had a parent this year, when they learned my child had multiple food allergies and they could not send in homemade baked goods to the parties, say to me, "Oh you guys are the reason we cannot have anything fun". 

I respectfully ask you to reconsider the use of this form for future parties. 


These people you are writing a letter to know you right?  Your DD has a 504?

My advice would be to simplify your letter. 

I would be closer to:

"My DD has a 504 for LTFA's.  You should not be using this letter because:

1. It violates FERPA
2. It promotes discrimination/exclusion based on a disability
3. It identifies a child & their disability opening them up for harassment and blame from peers/parents
4. It increases the likelihood of contamination/cross-contamination of the classroom, increasing risks of reaction

Please notify me if you are intent on moving forward with the use of this form.
Thank you,
..... parent who will then forward the form & our communications on to the district 504 coordinator...."

or something like that.
"...who knew that Black History Month was really about an Orange White guy" ~gvmom
"...but HILLARY!" is not ACTUALLY a legal defense in the real world.  ~gvmom
"Don't feed the trolls; nothing fuels them so much." ~Oscar Wilde
Trump=Idiot https://twitter.com/spikedcranium/status/966768001943875584


Yep, gvmom's says the same thing, but doesn't make them read as much lol. Hammers the point home. MaryM, do you want to edit school's name out of your post?


I did edit out the school name...thanks.

I have such a headache about this.  Its a cluster*** and if they plan to use this form, I am done.  I told PTA president as much.  She told me there are also issues about religious food avoidance.  I hope the marshmallows I served were not the issue.  The teacher knew about it ahead of time.  June cannot come soon enough.  And now I am worrying that I served a food a child shouldn't have but I had no idea and marshmallows have never been an issue before but there are new kids.  I can't know unless I am told....And I am horrified to learn that our school nurse was involved with this.  No one thought it through.


Seriously the easy fix is no food parties...why schools don't just go to this to keep kids safe is beyond me.

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