Principal To Parents: No Peanuts At School

CHICAGO (WBBM) — The principal of Edison Gifted School where a 13 year old girl died after eating food containing peanut oil has asked parents not to pack their kids lunches containing peanuts or peanut butter.

13 year old Katelyn Carlson, a gifted student and 2nd degree black belt in Tai Kwan Do, died of an allergic reaction after a class Christmas party of Chinese food which may have been cooked in peanut oil, despite the teachers instructions.

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She was pronounced dead at Swedish Covenant Hospital.

In a letter to parents, principal Saundra Gray said her campus at 4929 N Sawyer ‘will no longer have any peanuts in the environment.’

She said “a food service provider for Edison has picked up all the food containing peanuts so it will no longer be a choice on our menu.”

She wrote: “In addition, we are asking that you do not send food containing peanuts to school in your child’s lunch or snack. We know some students rely on peanut butter for their sandwiches, so we understand that this transition might take some time.”

Gray also wrote: “We are hoping that by February 10th, we can be peanut-free in lunches brought into the building.”

The peanut free environment also applies to the sister school, Albany Park Multicultural Academy, on the same campus.

Chicago School Board spokesman Monique Bond says “Some of our schools are peanut free zones, but there is no policy in place to make all schools mandatory peanut free zones.”

Bond said CPS will be taking a closer look at targeting the Allergy Management Policy to specifically address food allergies like peanut products.

  • Vickie

    This is ridiculous! I have a dairy allergy, as does my nephew, but you don’t see us pushing for no milk in the schools!!! Completely out of hand. How about you teach your allergic children to NOT EAT anything that you haven’t personally prepared for them? That’s how I get through family parties and other social occasions, rather than risking my throat swelling shut. Peanut butter is an inexpensive staple food for kids, and because of one particular child’s allergy, every school parent in an already tight economy is going to have to be out of pocket? Ridiculous! That’s like saying because of a hearing-impaired student, there will be no more music class!

    • Lisa Ladonski

      I like your analogy Vickie! It’s a perfect example! :)

    • Lisa Blocher Klein

      Coming from a FA person I’m surprised and taken aback by your comment. You should be fully aware that some people are airborne allergic to peanuts and can die within seconds of breathing in a single peanut! That’s a big difference from just teaching your children not to eat anything else. And what about in younger kids who might not wash their hands and then touch all the toys? How is going PN free ridiculous?

    • Anna

      Vickie, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re a social media expert for the peanut industry. A child DIED here. Couldn’t you take that into account with your insensitive post?

      Food parties should not be part of the school curriculum. Unlike music class, there is no compelling educational justification. Get the food out of schools.

  • Paramedic27

    Why did this child not have an Epi-pen? Sounds like the child’s parents sorely needed educating and they had to learn the hard way, at their daughter’s expense. So now everyone else must bend over backwards for that 1 child in 300 rather than having a conference with an allergic child’s parents about how to handle the individual child’s situation.

  • JimBo

    Agreed. OVER-reaction. Is he gonna buy lunch for the kids if he wants to dictate what they eat. Otherwise, let the families do their jobs……

  • michelle

    It is so easy to judge when you don’t know someone with a food allergy. An innocent child is gone. Food allergies are becoming more prevalent. It is a very insidious, dangerous problem. We must look at how we feed ourselves and our children.

    • Common Sense?

      An innocent child is gone due to parents not notifying school officials about her condition and also not keeping the correct medication with her at all times. Besides what school throws a Christmas party by serving Chinese food?? Does anyone else think that’s strange? I think it’s the school officials that need to check themselves before they wreck themselves.

      • Lisa Ladonski

        And don’t a lot of Chinese restaurants use peanut oil to cook food? I don’t cook a lot of Chinese food so I’m not sure, but that’s what I thought.

      • Common Sense??

        The amount of speculation and blame in all of these comments is ridiculous. Until the investigation is complete it is completely unfair to say:
        The parents didnt notify the school
        The girl didnt have her medication
        The school administration knew about the food
        The chinese food caused the reaction
        The chinese food was cooked in peanut oil

        Also, if a simple peanut ban helps the devastated classmates/friends cope with this situation and makes them feel that something positive has been done, then is it worth it?
        The policy can be revisited at any time but the kids that knew her are struggling now.

  • Lisa Ladonski

    I agree this is overreacting. My sister is severely allergic to rice and all rice-based products (rice bran oil, rice flour, etc.) but my mom never asked the schools to not have any types of food with rice in them. She carries her Epi-Pen with her, and it’s not fair for other students to suffer because of someone having a medical condition. I mean, my daughter does not like lunchmeat, so why should I not be able to send peanut butter and jelly with her for lunch?

  • Guest

    This is very, very sad, such a tragedy. My heart goes out to the family, classmates, and friends of this young woman for their terrible loss.

    There is no way to EVER get all food that could possibly contain peanuts out of a school. There are just too many items that can contain traces of peanuts. This ban will give the families that have children with peanut allergies a false sense of security. There is no safe environment. They always have to be on guard at school and elsewhere.

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  • Susan Raydon

    -Ensure that those at risk for anaphylaxis, carry an auto-injector at all times.
    -Train all school staff and parents on how to recognize and treat a reaction.
    -Take ALL food allergies seriously and have a plan to reduce the risk of exposure to allergens.
    -Stop using food as a means of celebration, reward etc. Put on your thinking caps!

  • D

    Wow I can’t believe how callous and un-caring some of you moms are. This kind of allergy is a real disability. Don’t you realize someones child could die because of a PBJ? Don’t we make accommodations for others that are not as fortunate as us?

  • habibi

    My child has severe nut and sesame allergies. Kids can die in seconds from just the exposure of nuts depending on their severity. Nut allergies are the most life threatening. I commend any school for being nut free-peanut free. Its scary enough for parents to worry about the preschool kids safety when little ones don’t wash their hands and touch everything. Allergies are becoming more prevalent. Lets not have more deaths due to growing allergies in a school . Lets focus on finding a solution to help identify all kids in school with allergies so everyone knows that these kids have a medical/allergy condition and they must not be given any food products besides what their parents send in their back pack.

    • D

      Don’t these other comments from the selfish uncaring Moms just make you want to puke?

  • alicia

    When your spout off about your peanut butter rights, and judge parents so harshly who want a safe education for their child, you drive people into hiding with their allergies. I have been the target of this many times. By second grade I have thrown in the towel and do not bother to ask for safe birthday treats or school parties even because the parents are so damned knee jerk mean about it. Is my son at greater risk and more alienated ?yes. Does it really matter if their are walnuts in the christmas party brownies ? NO. Not to the kids. Not to the spirit of the occasion. But to some jerky selfish parent who likes her recipe and does not want to have to bother with anyone’s needs but her own kids it matters enough to start a war. So no wonder some would rather lay low, call it mild and let people be who they are than advocate for a child with a safety need.

  • alice=ia

    and Vickie –
    that analogy is not correct. Music Is the curricullum. eliminating music as an accomodation would be a disturbance to the basic academic learning that takes place in a school. Leaving out peanut butter does no such thing. Unless your child is enrolled in cooking school Or attending Peanut school.

    Quote of a famous country singer:
    You idiot. Bring something else. Do you really feel you have the right to endanger a child?
    And is choosing a different spread really SUFFERING? Inconvenient — even an imposition – at worse. But SUFFERING ???

    • D

      I agree. There is Sunflower seed butter which can be a great safer substitute for peanut butter. And there are many other lunch options.

      And, actually look up peanut butter on the internet. There are health risks even for non allergic people. For one, there are a certain level of insects parts in there that are allowable among mold and fungus. So I wouldn’t want to give a child this everyday anyway. Also PBJ lovers can still eat this at home. So I just think it is just common sense and compassion that would prevent moms from sending their kids to school with this.

      If analogies are what some of you need to understand things better: It is like children have weapons in their lunch pail for peanut allergic children.

      Also, do any of you PBJ moms have any interest in teaching compassion and sensitivity to your children?? So are you saying that you wouldn’t feel guilty if a cute well-loved child died because of someone else’s lunch? DO YOU PEOPLE HAVE A CONSCIENCE?????

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