Parents want school nut-free after allergic reaction

Parents of a Holmes student say employees violated district's food allergy policy, threaten legal action

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

The parents of a Holmes School fourth-grader are demanding that District 97 officials take steps to make the school nut-free after they say their daughter nearly died from a food-allergic reaction on Feb. 3 during her lunch period. 

Tim and Laura Hunnewell say their 10-year-old daughter, Sadie, who is allergic to peanuts, went into anaphylactic shock just as her lunch period was ending. Tim Hunnewell believes that actions taken by school employees both before and after his daughter's allergic episode violated the district's Food Allergy Management policy. 

"They basically had her cleaning up in the cafeteria, which she isn't supposed to do," Tim Hunnewell said in an interview last week. "That's a violation of protocol. She was cleaning up garbage and then she went to sit at her table, and who knows if they were eating [food with peanuts]. But, whatever the case may be, at some point, she was exposed." 

Hunnewell said that after his daughter went into shock, she wasn't given an epinephrine injection — which is an emergency medical treatment for victims of severe allergic reactions — and 911 wasn't called until his wife showed up to the school around 10 or 15 minutes later.

"The injection wasn't given right after she went into shock, even though you're supposed to give it right away," he said. "It literally says that on the package. My kid could've been dead by then. Five more minutes and she would've choked on her tongue."

"A couple of more minutes would not have been good when people go through that shock their throat closes, so time is of the essence," said Laura Hunnewell. 

"Depending on how severe the reaction is to the allergy, you can go into anaphylactic shock and die," said Rhonda Policandriotes, a critical care nurse at Presence St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet who also has a nut allergy. 

According to epipen.com, a website that lays out proper procedures for administering auto-injections and dosages of epinephrine, the immediate administration of the drug is critical for all patients who show the symptoms of anaphylactic shock. 

"Any delay in treatment increases the risk of a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction or a biphasic reaction in these patients," the website notes. 

The Hunnewells say Sadie was rushed to the hospital, where her condition stabilized, but that later in the day, she needed to be taken to the hospital again after experiencing a reaction to the medications that doctors prescribed. 

And on Feb. 10, their daughter was taken to the hospital for the third time in a week after experiencing a reaction while in class. The Hunnewells said that, based on conversations they had with the school's nurse and other employees, they believe nuts may have been allowed in the classroom, in violation of district policy. 

The Hunnewells said Sadie hasn't returned to school since Feb. 10 because she's suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and now needs therapy. Her pediatrician, they added, does not believe the school to be safe due to her nut allergies. 

Mike Padavic, the district's senior director of special services who is responsible for overseeing the district's Food Allergy Management program, could not be reached for comment. 

In an email statement, District 97 Communications Director Chris Jasculca said that the district intends to perform a "comprehensive investigation into this incident, and will take whatever actions are necessary based on our findings to preserve and protect the continued health and safety of every child we serve."

The district's food allergy policy was developed in 2013 with assistance from nurses, and the parents and guardians of students with food allergies. The policy lays out responsibilities, protocols and procedures for parents and guardians, nurses, teachers food service staff members, custodial staff members and principals. 

In an email, the Hunnewells highlighted at least 30 specific areas of the policy that they say they are certain were violated by school employees. During a visit to the school on Feb. 10, Laura Hunnewell said that she witnessed many apparent violations of the policy herself.

For instance, she said, a table in the school's cafeteria that is designated nut-free was not marked and "at least one teacher did not know that the table was for nut allergies so he sat a kid at the table who doesn't have allergies." And according to Sadie, cafeteria workers don't wipe the table down regularly, despite protocol requiring them to do so.

"I'd say it almost seems like they have these protocols that they claim are in place, but the left hand is not working with the right hand," Laura Hunnewell said. "It seems like there's a lot of miscommunication between the staff." 

Tim Hunnewell said that his daughter's two reactions, show that, because of a lack of training and other factors, the policies will never be enough to completely ensure that his child doesn't have another life-threatening allergic reaction. 

"My goal is to apply enough pressure to get the nuts out of the school," Tim Hunnewell said. "If they aren't going to do it, then we'll take them to court to force them to do it."

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com 

Reader Comments

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Kristen Brennan Nowka  

Posted: February 22nd, 2017 12:20 PM

Bruce, I think that's up to the parents and their child to decide. I believe for each family it is different, but as soon as they are given their independence...walking into town or going to the mall with friends, both child/parents need to be very confident.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 18th, 2017 9:32 PM

Thanks for the insights based upon your real world experience. So tell me then: at what age do you feel confident you can send a kid "out the door" with his or her own EpiPen - with out any adult supervision? That was one part of Bill's question I tried to answer.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: February 18th, 2017 8:39 PM

You're making me smile, Kristen. Thanks.

Kristen Brennan Nowka  

Posted: February 18th, 2017 8:04 PM

Bruce...the Epi Pen is really easy to use. The AuviQ literally "talks" giving step-by-step directions to the person administering epinephrine, so ultimately someone can administer it without being trained. The needle is not visible and it is in pen form and only has to be pushed into the leg..that's when the needle engages..only upon insertion. It's not a traditional needle you think of such as the ones you find in a doctors office. Your point is valid, though, but the delivery method it comes in is not as scary or looks like a typical needle with meds in it. As far as administering it, it's not tough. As a mom with a teenager with life threatening food allergies, as she navigates the world without me by her side as much as I'd like, we've talked with her friends. I've showed them how to use it with the "trainer" pen and they practiced on themselves...feeling the click when the needle is inserted so they understand. Some of her friends each picked a job...one will inject, one will call 911, etc. My daughter also knows how to self inject and she has since she was little. Kids with life threatening allergies grow up faster then other kids, in a sense, because they are taught at an early age how to inject in case they are by themselves and they are in a life threatening situation. Also, most kids learn the heimlich and cpr at young ages in school, maybe we add the epi pen into these training classes as well. It would bring more awareness to food allergies and would also show people the form it comes in is not as scary as kids think when they hear the word "needle" or "injection" and they feel confident if they ever need to help someone in need.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 18th, 2017 12:39 AM

Bill I neglected to add one more important point to your excellent question. And that is we are talking about SELF injections with a needle. How many young kids - let alone adults - can handle that! It takes practice, understanding, and overcoming fear of needles. This stuff is not simple by any means. That is why you just can't send any kid of any age, out the door with his Epipen in his pocket and think the problem is solved.

Kevin Peppard  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 11:35 PM

Bill Dwyer: If you wonder why the Epipen now costs so much, compared to what it used to, ask Jeff Weissglass, the D200 Board President. His latest Statement of Economic Interests (available on Daavid Orr's website) shows he made over a $5,000 capital gain on his holdings of Mylan, the provider of the device.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 11:20 PM

Bill you raise two very important issues. First is cost of drug (or rather delivery system since the drug epinephrine is dirt cheap). Starting this month Mylan - the makers of Epipen will have two competitors: Auvi-Q and Adrenaclick. This should put significant downward pressure on the cost of Epipen. Second, at what age can a parent safely "send their child out the door" with one of these devices for self administration? This is not a simple question. But my understanding is that most allergists believe that the appropriate age to assume the responsibility for self administration (and virtual self resuscitation) is around 11 or 12. Younger kids may not have the necessary insight or discriminating ability to recognize a life threatening anaphylactic reaction requiring emergent treatment vs symptoms not so requiring emergent injection. I am sure Mr. Hunnewell is well versed and educated in the issues you raised and might be able to ad more insight to my post.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 9:40 PM

Being childless ,I don't usually interject myself in theses sort of issues, but I really just have to ask: wouldn't it help if life saving medical delivery devices like Epi Pens didn't cost over $500? So that it was more affordable for more people, and not just for schools, to have one on hand? So that most parents were able to afford to send their child out the door with one?

Lauren Delapaz  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 5:14 PM

@Tim Hunnewell Do you propose we keep people w/ food allergies in a bubble or remove all foods that cause allergies. The point is peanuts are all over the place. A little girl named Maia had an allergic reaction and passed away when she was in a mall. There are allergens everywhere, but instead of having an outlandish ban our job should be to educate those around us so they can make decisions to help people with allergies out.

Lauren Delapaz  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 5:07 PM

*I did read the article closely. Maybe work to engage the students in how life threatening peanuts are, and make them more aware so they can be more careful.

Lauren Delapaz  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 5:02 PM

@Tim Hunnewell I didn't say trying to save childrens lived is silly, I said banning peanuts is silly. The articles states that there are already several bans and regulations in place, but they are obviously not effective. I did read the comment closely, and it says nothing about specific training students or staff recieve all it talks about the regulations already in establishment. And maybe if you read my comment a little more closely you would realize I advocate for actual action not rules and regulations that have been proven not to work.

Tim Hunnewell  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 4:07 PM

@"Bruce Kline" As soon as we have an agreed upon plan with the goal of providing an allergen-free environment for all kids we will definitely share with with other parents, other schools, the district, and other districts. Thanks for you support.

Tim Hunnewell  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 4:06 PM

@"Bethany Joy" I haven't seen your other comments, apologies. The school, like other public places, is responsible to provide a safe place for education per the ADA. However, they also have a responsibility to provide an additional level of safety and care; "in loco parentis" which other public places do not. How we handle other places is not the topic of this, but you can certainly get a story written about that!

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 1:41 PM

Tim your point is well taken. I would like to see what your actual ("rubber meets the road") proposal would look like to even see if it is doable: both logistically as well as financially. I would also like to see if the proposed program would actually reduce risk of anaphylaxis. I think those are valid concerns that our community has a right to ask.

Bethany Joy  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 1:33 PM

It's funny that I said the same thing as some of the other posters but my comments were removed. It is impossible to control the outside world. I feel for the parents--I really do. And no one has answered my question: how do parents navigate other public spaces with the same concerns?

Tim Hunnewell  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 12:38 PM

@"Bruce Kline", @"Barbara Purington" No one is saying nut-free means there will never be a nut, as the same could be said for other prohibited items. All we're attempting to do is limit exposure of deadly allergens and protect children of the community. We will still need proper protocols, training, and monitoring, but no nuts gets us there faster and with lower risk - at a much lower cost. The crossing the street issue is a self-inflicted one, and has no relevance to the discussion about unintended exposure by others related to children with a life-threatening disability.

Barbara Purington  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 10:13 AM

@Kristen--my point--it's unrealistic to eliminate peanut dust in any form from entering a school building. @Jenna--well put. My thoughts exactly. Underlying all the outcries for school policy and legal recourse on nut free schools is the very real feeling of loss of control. We, as parents, as adults, are not and cannot be in control of what happens to our precious children. And this is terrifying. We can and do take endless precautions to keep kids healthy and safe. I myself went to GBMS and VOP traffic control about the traffic at Home and Madison after two sixth graders were hit by cars in one month in 2014. (Yaay for me). However, I still see students crossing against the light, discounting new countdown warning. I will support nut free buildings. While there may be a slight reduction in exposure, there will never be zero chance because of all the food processed on the same machinery as tree nuts. Salmonella contamination of poultry happens, even though regulated. There are just so many things we can't control. As individuals, we can control what we can control, to an extent. We still don't know why the school personnel with an Epi did not injected Sadie. Perhaps no one was certain what was happening. I know that school personnel DO go through yearly training on use of Epi Pens, and the APs are in charge of carrying them on field trips at GBMS. And yes, there needs to be an internal review of what derailed during both incidents, so Holmes personnel can be reinstructed on what to look for and how to react. Perhaps more staff, not just the school nurse, need to be recruited and identified by ID type badge as Emergency Responders. I often wonder who would know the location in a public place of a cardiac defibulator and how to use one when the need arises. Please, if you are up to it, get trained, and refresh those CPR skills everyone. I often tell my student, who carries a rescue inhaler, to offer it if ever needed.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 10:10 AM

I agree with you, Mr Hunnewell, this is not a silly issue. But I also agree with Ms. Russell, that guaranteeing a "nut free" school will be logistically impossible short of banning all outside food and snacks and the school being solely responsible for such. With 10 schools in D97 that is cost wise prohibitive. Furthermore, short of this would we require "food police" at all entrances monitoring inspecting kid's lunch bags? And if per chance a kid gets by the food police, and an adverse event occur do we discipline the kid as well as prosecuting the parents? Yeah the devil is truly in the details on this.

Tim Hunnewell  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 9:54 AM

@"Mary Anne Mohanraj" We all thank you for your support.

Tim Hunnewell  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 9:50 AM

@"Lauren Delapaz" trying to save children's lives is not "silly". This is life-threatening disability, not a simple allergic response like sneezing due to hay fever. If you read the article more closely, you will see that we already attempted your proposed solution of "better train [our] teachers and staff to respond in case of an emergency" but that just landed Sadie back in the ER. Since when is a nut (or any other deadly allergen) more important than a life? I think all parents of children with this disability would agree - never, we were hoping that even parents without would agree as well.

Mary Anne Mohanraj from Oak Park  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 8:07 AM

Tim and Laura, we're so sorry for what Sadie has gone through, and Kevin and I (Holmes parents) support you in requesting the school go nut-free. We're already committed to sending nut-free snacks ourselves.

Lauren Delapaz from River Forest  

Posted: February 16th, 2017 9:56 PM

What the parents are trying to accomplish is silly. Banning peanuts, we live in a free society so you have no place to tell my children what they can and cannot eat for lunch. Now that being said I do sympathize, but the problem is not the rules but the training of the staff. Maybe instead of having a full out war with peanuts, we can better train out teachers and staff to respond in case of an emergency like the following. We can' take food out just because some kids are allergic otherwise every kid would be eating saltines w/ water. Oh wait saltines have gluten. Stop trying to create a beurocracy and start trying to actually fix the problem.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 16th, 2017 8:32 PM

Oh I almost forgot. As far as "being on topic" well I absolutely agree with Jenna Brown Russel and Barbara Redleaf Bernard.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 16th, 2017 8:25 PM

Well Bridgett we don't know if what you say is true or not. Perhaps it is. As far Mr. Hunnewell goes, I agree with Ada. What happened to his daughter is tragic. But when he or the WJ starts to dictate the terms of a post to the point of the WJ actual deleting posts with which they strongly disagree, that does become a topic - at least for me it does. Yes, Bridgett, you are correct, it is the WJ's sandbox no doubt. They make the rules. And like the kid in the sandbox with the toy truck who decided to pick up his truck and go home when he gets angry at his little friends, so did the WJ act likewise in my opinion.

Barbara Redleaf Bernard  

Posted: February 16th, 2017 4:26 PM

Thank you Jenna for writing what I've been thinking. I, too, am so happy Sadie is ok. And I am sad for her and her family. I am an allergy mom with a daughter in 97. Realistically, a nut free school is not feasible. It would create a false sense of security that I, for one, would not trust. Labels are not read in the same way by allergy and nonallergy families.

Bridgett Baron  

Posted: February 16th, 2017 3:58 PM

Regarding comments being removed: I don't think it was a free speech issue. I think it was more of a transparency issue. "Faith Sattvic" is a very new name on these boards. And now the Facebook profile that that name was linked to, has been deleted. The comments were most likely deleted because "Faith Sattvic" doesn't exist and the person posting wasn't using their real name. WJ has the ability to see people's IP addresses, and WJ keeps track of IP addresses that have a history of hiding behind a fake name. I didn't mind having people use monikers before WJ required the Facebook log in as of March 2015, as long as they were consistent (and only one per person), and not abusive. But since it is their sandbox, we are required to follow WJ's rules.

Jenna Brown Russell  

Posted: February 16th, 2017 12:55 PM

I feel for the families of children with such allergies, and am upset by an apparent failure to follow by preventative and medical protocols in this instance. However, logistically, it is impossible for the school to apply and monitor the foodstuffs of 3,400 students. No classroom I've been in allows any nuts, or food processed with nuts. But the lunch sacks are impossible to monitor. It's not as simple as 'no pb&j's'' The roll I grab for the ham & cheese may be made from wheat processed in a plant with nuts., the granola bar may have almonds. To have a truly nut-free facility, there can be no outside food allowed. Perhaps one elementary school could institute and underwrite such a rule, but it's not feasible to put this responsibility and liability on 10 large, public buildings. We can all empathize, and be vigilant, but we cannot reasonably make these environments free of allergic risks.

Kristen Brennan Nowka  

Posted: February 16th, 2017 10:52 AM

Barbara, this family is trying to reduce the risk of exposure at school. They are well aware of food being processed in plants. As a food allergy mom, reading labels is part of our daily routine. Listing examples of dangerous things like you did, we all know nothing in life is full proof, but the focus is reducing the risk of accidents. Everyday parents reduce the risk of their kids getting hurt. Thats one of our main jobs...to keep our kids safe. I choose wisely who's house my kids can go to. I ask questions to reduce the risk of my kids getting hurt. We have crossing guards to help our kids, but can something happen? Sure. But the guards are there to reduce the risk of a child getting hit. I've given the heimlich maneuver to two kids...one being my own, so yes, things happen. Although these kids choked, the risk of death was, again, reduced by knowing how to do the heimlich. Most parents take the time to learn learn the heimlich in case their child ever chokes...again reducing the risk of death. Dressers fall on kids, but there's tools to adhere them to the wall..therefore reducing the risk. That's all this family is looking for...to reduce the risk of their child becoming very sick or dying due to an exposure at school. I don't understand the confusion.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: February 16th, 2017 10:28 AM

Tim - I am horrified by what happened to your daughter. And I have not sent my children to school with any type of nut product ever b/c of this. I am on your side. However, you don't get to dictate the comment section of our local newspaper no matter how personal yu feel this cause is. That's bullying. And it's wrong. Bruce and I find it a bit disturbing that just b/c people don't like what people have to say, it can be censored. Once again I am incredibly grateful that Sadie is doing okay. And I will continue my own school nut ban.

Tim Hunnewell  

Posted: February 16th, 2017 9:34 AM

More than 230 D97 students have life-threatening allergies. This is based on the 2018 estimated enrollment of 6,000 with an estimated 3.9% affected. http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/6-11-2013/District-97-projects-enrollment-to-reach-6,000-by-2018/ https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db10.htm

Tim Hunnewell  

Posted: February 16th, 2017 9:22 AM

@"Ada Johnson Tikkanen", @"Bruce Klein", can we please stick to the topic? We're just trying to keep D97 safe. Does anyone know how many children suffer from life-threatening allergies in D97? I'm ashamed to admit that not even I know this. This goes way beyond just protecting our Sadie. After two incidents in one week, we're lucky she's still alive; the next child may not be so lucky. You can ask WJ to start a separate thread about 1A and their comment policy, specifically: "Impersonating any person or entity, or falsely misrepresenting an affiliation with any other person or entity is not permitted."

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 7:26 PM

Yeah Ada, as a fellow libertarian, I figured you would. I think you and I probably agree: the First is foundational to our democracy.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 6:29 PM

sorry Bruce - it was a misused question mark. I agree with you - I find censorship to be disturbing.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 6:09 PM

Ada are you asking the WJ why her posts were removed or are you asking me why I was disturbed that her posts were in fact removed.? As far a Mr. Gulbransen concerns, the fact is the WJ mandated the rule that in order to post you must "sign" your FaceBook name; not your real name. I have been known on Facebook for many years - well before the WJ policy went into effect - as Bruce Kline (my real name is as I have pointed out several times in posts, bruce kleinman - which by the way you probably do not need a Ph. D. in encryption to figure out). I, like many, older folks years ago, were wary of social media, and therefore did not feel comfortable using my real name. If the WJ asked for real names - as they do for letters - then I would be happy to offer my real name. But in fact they - the WJ - "contracted out" their identity vetting to Facebook. So I, and possibly Faith are just following the rules as set forth by the WJ. I still don't think any of this justifies in my mind enforced silence. If real identity is so important, perhaps use another surrogate rather than Facebook. Perhaps even ask people to sign their real name, if not identified as such on Facebook. I for one would have no problem with that. But on Facebook I remain, as I have for many years, Bruce Kline.

David Gulbransen  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 4:44 PM

Well, by removing the "Faith Sattvic" posts, now my posts make a lot less sense. :) I think thwy were removed because the WJ has a policy of no anonymous comments, and by creating fake accounts, etc. they violated that policy. I'm not 100% in agreement with that--there are times when anon comments make sense to protect the poster's identity with regard to dangerous or especially sensitive content. That said, "Faith Sattvic" was a coward, hiding behind a fake name to in order to argue that a child with a *life threatening* allergy should "get over it" because not allowing nuts would be "disenfranchising" the rights of other kids. So, good riddance to them.

Eileen Hopkins D'Ambrogio from Oak Park   

Posted: February 15th, 2017 4:21 PM

The simple answer is to make all schools nut free. Nuts are not a requirement for a quality education. Training and policies are still needed, but simply eliminating the offending agent would go a long way toward preventing a life threatening situation such as this.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 4:12 PM

Why were her posts removed - that is disturbing Bruce?

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 3:06 PM

Kevin: I am not sure which disturbs me more: Faith Sattvic's inane absurd ramblings (particularly her ill informed musings regarding vaccinations) or the WJ's deletion of her posts.... probably the latter. To paraphrase Justice Brandeis, 1927: the remedy to offensive speech is more speech, not enforced silence.

Barbara Purington  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 1:56 PM

@Tim Hunnewell--Good luck with that. With all the food products processed with the same machinery as tree nuts, I am not sure it is possible. Trying to be realistic here, but when I send my kid to another family's home for a play date, I have learned I cannot rely on other parents to be as safety-minded about knives, razor blades, jarts, prescription medicine et al. It's just reality. I am retired from a job helping families with surviving and non surviving children of tragic near-drownings (back yard pool, day care stone pond), accidental hanging by jump rope, small bouncy ball swallowing (please destroy them) and more. I wish your family only blue skies from here on.

Jennifer Solheim  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 1:48 PM

Thank you for writing this article, Michael, and thank you, Tim and Laura, for going public with this awful situation. If you are looking for additional D97 parents to support the district going nut-free, I would like be a voice in support - please do let me know.

Kevin Peppard from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 1:40 PM

Removal of "Faith Sattvic":The WJ did what people asked: Those posts have been removed. I can't even find that name on Facebook now. Sometimes the system works. Of more significance, various websites report that peanut and tree nut allergies (potentially deadly) exist in from 0.6% to 1% of Americans. Across the combined enrollmet of D97 and D200, that's from about 60 to 100 children, so it's not exactly some extremely rare condition. It sounds like the schools need to wear both a belt and suspenders. Keep those items out of the schools, but since someone will inevitably mess up, know what to do in the case of an emergency. How can a first grader, who is starting to go into shock, remember to administer an EpiPen, and know how to use it? The teachers have to be trained in knowing what to spot, and what to do. I speak from firsthand experience. As a child, I was subject to petit mal seizures. At the St. Giles Children's Mass, I passed out and hit my head on the wooden pew. The nuns, who were the only adults there other than Monsignor Frawley, simply gave me a glass of water, and sent me to walk the half mile back home. They didn't even bother to call my parents. So the adults in charge have to know how to handle the emergencies that inevitably will happen. Don't assume that they don't need training

Tim Hunnewell  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 1:05 PM

@"Barbara Purington" Thank you for this. Sadie self-carries and has been trained on self-administration. The school doesn't allow students to carry the autoinjector around - which we agree with 100% - because it could be very dangerous if another child accidentally injected themselves. Again, this is all about not following protocols and a lack of adherence to the district's own Allergy Management Program. Our oldest daughter also attended Holmes and also has a nut allergy. We trusted and believed in the Allergy Management Program, but we all know now that it's not reasonable to expect staff, and other students, to know the exact location of every allergen in the school at every minute of the day. The easiest route is to simply eliminate the source, like razor blades, knives, jarts, fireworks, or anything that can kill a child in 15 minutes that's not self-inflicted.

Barbara Purington  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 12:17 PM

continued Epinephrine Still First-Line for Anaphylaxis Epinephrine should be used as first-line management for anaphylaxis in children, according to a second clinical report by Scott H. Sicherer, MD, also of the AAP Section on Allergy and Immunology, and colleagues. In the event of anaphylaxis, children should be promptly treated with an epinephrine autoinjector and then assessed in an emergency department to determine if additional treatment, such as oxygen, IV fluids, or adjunctive medications are needed. The authors argued that other medications, such as H1 antihistamines, bronchodilators such as albuterol, provide "adjunctive treatment," but do not replace epinephrine. They also addressed the dilemma of epinephrine dosing, as only two fixed doses of epinephrine autoinjectors exist (0.15 mg and 0.3 mg). While they noted that 0.15 mg is high for infants and young children, they cited research that said 80% of pediatricians would prescribe the 0.15 mg epinephrine autoinjector for an infant or child weighing 22 lbs.

Barbara Purington  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 12:04 PM

Allergy & Immunology CME/CE AAP: Provide Emergency Plan for Children with Severe Allergies Epinephrine should also be used as first-line anaphlyaxis tx SAVESAVE by Molly Walker Staff Writer, MedPage Today February 13, 2017 Action Points Clinicians should help develop a plan for families and schools to use in the case of allergy-related emergencies, said the American Academy of Pediatrics. A child at risk of anaphylaxis should have a prescription for an epinephrine autoinjector for use in a community setting, as well as a written allergy and anaphylaxis plan at the beginning of each school year, wrote Julie Wang, MD, and colleagues for the AAP Section on Allergy and Immunology. Writing in Pediatrics, they offered guidance about when a clinician should provide a written emergency plan for a child with known allergies who may be at risk of anaphylaxis, such as those reactive to foods or insect stings. The AAP provided a sample plan for clinicians, which includes a photo of the child, along with the child's medical history, medication and dosing instructions, as well as pre-printed guidance about what constitutes a severe or mild allergic reaction. The plan also provided information about whether or not the child can self-carry or self-administer medications. While no specific guidelines exist, the authors noted that one survey of the AAP Section on Allergy and Immunology found that most pediatric allergy specialists expect children 9 to 11 years of age to self-carry epinephrine autoinjectors and be able to self-administer the medication from 12 to 14 years of age.

Tim Hunnewell  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 11:48 AM

@"Josh Vanderberg" 100% agree that the policies "should" be sufficient, but since we're having this conversation, they're obviously not - agreed?

Josh Vanderberg  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 11:03 AM

It seems pretty clear the D97 needs to revisit their policies and education around those policies to make sure that incidents like this don't recur. I think the policies are sufficient to protect children with food allergies. The discussion about the 70s is irrelevant. It's 2017 and many kids have life threatening allergies, let's make sure our policies and procedures are up to snuff.

Barrett Buss  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 10:26 AM

Faith - please stop. Your comments are not helpful.

Mary Doyle  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 10:21 AM

For any commenters suggesting the parents start homeschooling their child, that is completely against the Americans with Disabilities Act. You are suggesting the school discriminate against a child. On the ADA website, it clearly states, "Children cannot be excluded on the sole basis that they have been identified as having severe allergies to bee stings or certain foods. A center needs to be prepared to take appropriate steps in the event of an allergic reaction, such as administering a medicine called "epinephrine" that will be provided in advance by the child's parents or guardians." (https://www.ada.gov/childqanda.htm). Stop suggesting the family homeschool their child.

Aaron Lebovitz from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 10:19 AM

@oakpark.com, please consider changing your policy so that merely having a FB account doesn't validate you to post comments. @"Faith Sattvic", I think that your immediate lack of empathy for a child who nearly died at school is what has generated the hostility in these exchanges. The rest is noise. And, while you clearly won't come clean about your actually identity, let me point out that Sattvic faith is intended a sacred concept to some of us, something that gives meaning to lives, not to be used to hide behind. If you would come into the light of day, perhaps others could take you more seriously and show you more compassion.

Eric Reeb  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 10:07 AM

Faith, you are a menace to society, spreading harmful falsehoods. Vaccines don't cause autism or celiac disease. They help prevent diseases. I'm glad you sound hysterical about this since get people will take you seriously but still, please stop.

Charlie Kohler from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 9:18 AM

Faith Sattvic is a fake name with a dummy Facebook account (go check it). The FB account is empty and obviously just created to post comments here. If you define a troll as a person who uses a false online identity to post to forums, "Faith" is a troll. I'm sure you'll have a comment on this "Faith," but at least you know who I am.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 9:11 AM

The article DOES NOT state that "30 violations exist." It states that "the Hunnewells highlighted at least 30 specific areas of the policy that they say they are certain were violated by school employees."

Chris Costello  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 8:22 AM

Oh and vaccines are not a conspiracy by "Big Pharma" or the government. They do not cause autism, nut allergies or asthma or do anything besides save millions of lives.

Chris Costello  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 8:17 AM

This is with the caveat that D97 has not commented or responded yet. But it is highly troubling that a child has a severe allergic reaction and the school does not use provided Epipen, or even call 9-1-1 but does nothing until the parent arrives. And then a week later allows exposure to the same child again. I'm not sure Mr. Hunnewell's wish of a nut-free school is possible or even desirable but the school should follow protocol to keep the child safe. Nut allergies are not new or uncommon but they are potentially lethal and other parents need to accept that.

Barbara Joan  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 6:43 AM

The huge increase in autism, autoimmune disease and allergies in children may be due to high exposure at an early age to vaccines, antibiotics and other meds, as well as our toxic environment.?School districts mandate vaccines in exchange for monetary incentives from the federal govt. Parents are not informed by school districts that they have the right to opt out of vaccines.Our kids are for sale.

Rani Morrison from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 12:09 AM

As a mother I am so sorry this happened to this child. As a former Holmes parent and a current D97 parent....I am surprised that protocol wasn't followed. My daughter has nut allergies and every classroom she was in at Holmes was designated "nut free" (back when we could bring treats, we all knew we couldn't bring any with nuts), there was the nutfree table, she had her own Epipen and the school for the last 3 years also has a stock. She actually had a reaction at one of the middle schools and the response was GREAT: watched her administer the Epipen, called me, called 911 and someone from the school rode with her and stayed until I got there. The principal then called me to make sure she was okay that evening. I would like to think that the protocol is the same in all of the schools as anaphylactic allergic reactions are common and deadly, and our schools are fortunate enough to have full time nurses on staff. Hopefully this incident can be reviewed and the opportunities identified. And I am very very glad Sadie is okay and alive to tell this story, as that is not always the case. And just to those who don't understand: the genesis of the allergy is irrelevant. There is no worse feeling in the world than watching your child suffer from something that can kill them in a matter of minutes right in front of your eyes...and to have that happen when they are not in your custody and control is 10x worse. I LOVE nuts, but I'd rather my daughter live than eat walnuts. I know everyone might not feel like that about other's children; but just put yourself in other's shoes when these allergy requests arise. Thanks.

Kelly Carson Flemming  

Posted: February 14th, 2017 11:32 PM

Thank you to the Hunnewell family for sharing this experience with our community... and to Michael Romain for this important article. I stand with the Hunnewells in raising awareness about the safety of all of our children. Oak Park schools should be leading the way in progressive, inclusive policies for all students. This is not about one child's life-threatening situation. This story is about ensuring that protections are in place & that there is a standard protocol for the safety of ALL students.

Brandon Palmer  

Posted: February 14th, 2017 10:43 PM

So much of this discussion is so ugly and heartless. The most important consideration here is that a child's LIFE was jeopardized by negligence and inaction - bottom line. Epi Pens (provided by family) were present, and even still basic health and safety protocols were ignored. Schools, administrations, and educators in our country carry a greater burden than giving our children their "three Rs". They serve as caretakers and the "frontline" for the majority of children's waking hours. The question is not "whose liberty is violated by a nut free policy". The question is "can a promising young life be snuffed out by protocols being ignored". The answer is a swift and decisive YES. Peanut free doesn't mean people need to walk through a decontamination center on their way to school; it means the lunchroom and classrooms need to take actions that do not cause life threatening food safety concerns. Would we be having this conversation if salmonella had sent kids to the hospital? No, we wouldn't. Because that's the same thing. ignoring a protocol (like refrigerating meat & eggs), and people suffering through totally avoidable, serious health concerns is unacceptable. These issues are also not related to scale. It doesn't matter how many people are impacted, it matters how severe the impact is. To conflate this with diabetes is absurd. I'm a lifelong type 1 diabetic. If I (or another diabetic) ingest something with carbohydrates in it and don't appropriately dose my medication, I experience symptoms of hyperglycemia. Those include things like irritability, headaches, frequent urination, and unpredictable mood changes. It takes hours for symptoms to manifest. In extreme cases where hyperglycemia goes untreated, more extreme symptoms can arise. if a person with a food allergy ingests that allergen, they can DIE within 30 minutes. Die as in dead - forever. So who needs protection? The person with the allergy, or the person who has to pack a ham&cheese instead of a pb&j?

David Gulbransen  

Posted: February 14th, 2017 10:32 PM

Faith, no hyperbole. It was the stupidest thing I'd read on the Internet today--until you went into the whole "not disclosing" b.s. Who exactly is behind the big peanut oil conspiracy? Big Pecan? *eyeroll* The notion is so entirely ludicrous it bears no further comment. However, with respect to "Shouldn't the parents have provided an Epipen..." Did you even READ the article?? The school *had* one... they didn't *use* it. And no, you can't protect them from every hazard, but seriously, are you really trying to tell me that the risk isn't *lowered* for kids with a peanut allergy by just asking parents to keep nuts at home? Of course it is. What you are saying is this: it's OK for a kid like this to choke to death on their own tongue and throat because little Johnny doesn't like bologna. Why should little Johnny have to go without peanut butter for lunch, just because that other student can, you know DIE from being exposed to it. So I'll ask you, once again, if the school just said, "To greatly reduce the risk of accidental exposure, please leave peanuts and foods with nuts at home" *who* is harmed? The risk of an accident becomes less--much less than just having a "nut free table" in the same lunchroom. And the only "downside" is that a few kids who *really* want a PB&J or a Snickers have to wait until they get home? How horrible! How will they survive, eating the hundreds of types of foods available for lunch that don't have peanuts!! Give me a break.

Jennifer Malloy Quinlan  

Posted: February 14th, 2017 10:20 PM

A D97 student died a year ago from an anaphylactic food allergy. . Holmes had an epipen for Sadie and didn't use it. That is clear in the article. It happens. It did happen recently. Let's be somewhat human and make sure it never happens again.

Meg Bracco Liebreich  

Posted: February 14th, 2017 10:09 PM

Allergies can be life threatening, they are not a fad for goodness sake! If the school cannot be nut-free, then some education for staff and other students is certainly in order. She is not the only child with a nut allergy who could benefit. (And to Sadie, I am so sorry you had to experience something so scary!)

Kristen Brennan Nowka  

Posted: February 14th, 2017 9:16 PM

Faith...I'm old enough to have elementary through high school kids. My point with fruits and veggies is just a safety/healthy issue. Not as fun as cupcakes and donuts, but my kids get their treats at home and I don't mind not having too many sweets at school. It's just the norm at our school and the kids aren't complaining bc they don't know any different and they've learned to pick healthy snacks. Yes...I'm well aware of processing issues at food plants as all parents of allergy/celiac kids that's the norm in our lives. As for vaccines...that's a whole other topic.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: February 14th, 2017 7:59 PM

I thought Holmes was already a nut-free zone. There are signs everywhere. If that's not the case why did I spend 6 years reading every ingredient of every item I ever sent to school with my kids?

Kristen Brennan Nowka  

Posted: February 14th, 2017 6:51 PM

Faith...I have a daughter with Celiacs Disease as well. So I get the gluten thing too. Theres a very big difference in a child with celiacs vs. allergies. I get trying to find other food options for two of my four kids. It's expensive, so I understand your point about a cheap food source, but I also know there are many less expensive food options. Also, I wasn't talking to you when I was responding to the "fad" comment, it was the 1970's comment directed towards you. When you have a child with a life threatening condition , it's very scary. I feel for this family. Accommodations are made at schools all the time for different issues. This is just another issue. Still don't understand why it's so hard to go peanut free for 20 minutes, 5 days a week. Lots of food choices after school. For snack time at my school, kids can only bring fruit or veggies. Not a bad accommodation for all students. For birthday treats, they're not allowed at school. We send a book (optional) and a parent can come to school to read it. The kids get their picture in their donated book for future students to enjoy. Another positive to accommodating kids with food allergies. Everyone benefits! Bottom line, it's about supporting others and helping a family out.

Barbara Purington  

Posted: February 14th, 2017 6:24 PM

How awful. Since it happened not once, but twice, it is telling us clearly school personnel cannot be expected to handle this type of MEDICAL emergency. No way would I ever send my uber peanut sensitive child to any school. Everyone is doing a job as well as can be expected. No one is super human. I would like to be confident that alll adults who work with kids know when and how to use an EpI. Pen. and an inhaler. But not everyone is good in an Emergency. Keep your precious kids safe at home. Do not depend on others. I can relate a little because I have a kid with asthma and it is terrifying to watch him in a spasm. If he is having an exacerbation, I keep him home and do not expect school personnel to keep him breathing. I'm sorry it happened, but it is not uncommon for a child to die from accidental peanut exposure in public eateries, on airplanes, and at home too. Very sad and tragic reality.

Kristen Brennan Nowka  

Posted: February 14th, 2017 5:40 PM

Peanut allergies are not a "fad". This isn't the 70's either. Kids can't run around as freely as they used to, our kids are learning shelter in place because of intruders with guns and social media was never a thought in a parents mind. Times have changed and food allergies are becoming more common than ever. 1 in 13 kids has a food allergy. As a parent of a child with 15 food allergies, half of them can kill her. I feel for this family. I've run into people who have been extremely supportive and I've run into people like Faith and Natalie. I've heard some pretty harsh comments, too. Anyone ever tell you "if your child dies, they die"? Can you imagine? Over a simple request to find an alternative lunch five days a week? Walk a day in our shoes...watch your child walk out the door and hope that they are safe in the hands of others and hope that they come back in one piece. Try our life for a day and see if you really think it's a "fad" or it's about a "right to eat a pbj". Perhaps a little empathy is all that's needed. Parents of kids with food allergies understand all too well the frustrations of not being able to eat a certain food. So when non-allergy families look for other options for their child's school lunch...we really, truly appreciate it and we are so grateful to you! I've found if you give kids who don't have allergies other food options (bonus you broaden their horizons), explain food allergies a peer has and how scary it is...most kids are more than willing to accommodate. In fact, they like/want to help out. It seems that it's certain adults who think this is about a "right to eat a pbj at school" vs. the well being of a child who could die. It takes a village to protect our children whether its from allergies, other illnesses, social media, helping out if you see a lost kid, etc. This family is scared. They are just looking for support, for 20 minutes, five days a week.

Diane Zimmer Fascione from Oak Park  

Posted: February 14th, 2017 5:34 PM

I am so sad that these scary incidents happened to this family. My son has a peanut allergy and was at Holmes through fifth grade. We and the other families with peanut allergies spent a lot of time working with the administration, faculty and other parents to create a safe place for our children. The fact is that even a tiny amount of peanut can kill a person who is allergic. Every year, we reviewed the 504 plan, a legal document, which set forth the requirements for the school to follow to avoid just this kind of occurrence. We did not need to request that the entire school be peanut free because of the plan. We did, however, request that the classroom be peanut free. And the classmates of my son were vigilant on his behalf - one even saw a warning on a "safe" snack I had brought in and called it to my attention! We were grateful to everyone who helped keep him safe. It is sad to think that perhaps the atmosphere is not as protective as it once was. Anyone who has had their child experience a life-threatening situation knows how terrifying it is. As a community, we need to support the protections that are necessary to ensure a child's safety.

Mary Doyle  

Posted: February 14th, 2017 5:18 PM

Barry, if you read the article you would understand that it was the school NOT following protocol. There was a giant misscommunication between school administrators and teachers. The child didn't do anything wrong, and the school should have at least implented their procedures the FIRST time the child was brought to the hospital. The fact the child is terrified to go to school is sad. Just a few years ago, a child in Chicago died because of a nut allergy (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-12-20/news/ct-met-allergic-death-cps-1221-20101220_1_food-allergy-epipens-allergic-reaction). The epipen being administered as soon as possible is critical in saving a child's life.

Barry Daughtry  

Posted: February 14th, 2017 4:56 PM

Isn't our country about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? I do not understand why a whole school of children must be restricted because of the mistakes of a few. Correct the ones who made the mistake.

Kristin Nelson  

Posted: February 14th, 2017 4:55 PM

typo below - should read "they are NOT a fad"

Kristin Nelson  

Posted: February 14th, 2017 4:52 PM

True, very few people had peanut allergies in the 1970's, and why so many kids suffer from this now is unknown, and frankly beside the point. The fact of the matter here is that kids do have these allergies, and they are a fad, they are LIFE THREATENING. When you see a child with fear in her eyes and crying because her throat is closing up and she is absolutely terrified, I should hope no ones reaction would be to "LMAO". Natalie / Faith - your comments are not only stupid, they are cruel.

Jennifer Malloy Quinlan  

Posted: February 14th, 2017 4:28 PM

Too much crazy talk around here. Make the school peanut free. The school had the chance to remedy the situation and did not. Remove the peanuts. *says the mom of a child who, after years of feeding therapy, prefers nuts to anything else. At school, he can eat anything BUT nuts, because that's the right thing to do.

Natalie Stein  

Posted: February 14th, 2017 4:15 PM

Demanding? Someone besides this child needs to grow up. Ban sugar, a fellow student might give a diabetic child a piece of candy or a cookie. With all due respect it seems peanut allergies are one of the newest fads. Strange as I was growing up I never heard of such a case. Schools can't be health police.

David Gulbransen  

Posted: February 14th, 2017 4:01 PM

Oh my god. Are you seriously claiming that some kid's right to have a PB and J for lunch is equivalent of another parent's right to HAVE THEIR CHILD NOT DIE??? That's pure idiocy. A kid can go the school day without eating a peanut. A kid with an allergy isn't just "trying to get their way" they are trying to *live*. The notion that it's somehow "disenfranchising" someone is perhaps the stupidest thing I've read all day.

David Gulbransen  

Posted: February 14th, 2017 3:58 PM

Wrong, Faith Sattvic. Adjuvant's aren't used in all vaccines, and none are peanut based *at all*. The "peanut oil" misinformation comes from a study done (over 50 years ago) that examined them as a *potential* not that they were used. A simple search will debunk the myth quickly, including discrediting the "experts" who claim otherwise. Vaccines save lives.

David Gulbransen  

Posted: February 14th, 2017 3:52 PM

Clearly, policies to keep "nut free areas" actually nut free aren't working here. So why not go nut free? What is the logic in not going nut free when you have a student with a known nut allergy in attendance???

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