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Educating schools on food allergies

12:39 PM, Jan 9, 2012   |    comments
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"In fifth grade, we got a new principal," said Turner. "And basically he decided that they could not accommodate her any longer."

The action caused Turner to file a complaint and look into moving her daughter to another school. That was the right move, according to Michelle Freas, medical director for The Kunsburg School, which is part of National Jewish Hospital in Denver.

"[If a school won't accommodate a student's food allergies,] I think you need to look at if it's the right school and by law they need to take care of you and help you," said Freas.

The Kunsburg School houses students who have special medical needs, including food allergies. Turner moved her daughter, now 13, to the school. That move was a learning experience for the mother of two.

"I found out some things that, even as a parent, I didn't know," she said. "Kids are eligible in public school, when you have a disability, for a 504 plan."

Turner explained that a 504 plan is an emergency plan for a student who has disability, adding that thinks severe food allergies should be considered as a disability.

Freas says that parents of school-aged children should have a conversation with "as many people in the building as possible," about their child's food allergy needs. That includes the principal, cafeteria workers, teachers and school nurses-if a school has one.

"[Let them know] if that child has a reaction, what that reaction looks like," she said. "The other thing parents need to do is they need to have a food action allergy plan."

Next year, Turner's daughter will attend a new high school (since The Kunsburg School only houses students up to 8th grade). She, once again, finds herself going through the process of reviewing schools abilities and policies when it comes to food allergies.

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