This year, I’ve been reassured multiple times by my son’s teachers, the principal, and the superintendent that I did not need to worry about continued use of junk food in school because the school would adhere to its own policy. (In a nutshell, this is the policy: the school can’t give kids junk food.)
Despite these reassurances, some teachers have continued to give kids pizza, doughnuts, Twix bars, Arnold Palmers, and potato chips.
Since so many teachers have remained unwilling to follow the policy, the principal added to Bubs’s 504 plan: if teachers are going to use food in class, they will notify student’s parents 24 hours in advance so parents can provide a gluten free alternative and adjust the student’s insulin dose. That means if a teacher is going to give the kids doughnuts (or whatever), she will let me know so I can…
a) buy a box GF doughnuts (or whatever) and deliver one to school
b) tell Bubs how much insulin to take before he eats it
c) tell Bubs there are going to be doughnuts (or whatever) in X class and ask him if he wants a GF doughnut or if he’d rather just have the money, which is $7. (The price for a box of GF doughnuts.)
When this accommodation was added to Bubs’s 504, all teachers were notified by the principal. One teacher, who is an excellent and beloved teacher and is also the Twix bars one, wrote to me to say she would let me know the day before any food would be given to the kids. She did not say unless it will be Twix bars or sheet cake.
Now we are in this twisted situation: Bubs’s 504 requires teachers to acknowledge they use food in class. Which means they acknowledge they are ignoring the school’s food policy. So instead of notifying us in advance about food, they instead pretend they just—whooops—gave the kids food again, but it was unplanned, so, you know, they couldn’t have been expected to notify us as per the 504.
I don’t like this, but I understand it. If you’ve been a teacher for decades and have always rewarded hard work with candy bars, it would be hard to just suddenly stop. (Especially if you think the school’s rule is dumb.) But a customized sheet cake—you don’t just stumble upon those in the back of a drawer.
When the teacher ordered the cake, she could have let a mother know. Instead I found out via Facebook, when a parent asked for volunteers to help cut and serve the cake. When I wrote to the teacher to say, “I saw on Facebook that there would be a sheet cake for the kids; would it be OK if I brought gluten free brownies?” She responded, “When X said she’d help me find volunteers, I knew you were friends, so I knew she would tell you about the cake…” that seemed kind of shifty. And shitty!
This whole thing is shitty. Regardless of whether or not it is OK to give kids junk food in school, and regardless of whether or not teachers are willing to follow their school’s own rules, I’m pretty sure intentionally ignoring a kid’s 504 is taking it to a the next level.
Anyway, people liked the brownies.
Why can’t your child just not have the food without spoiling the fun for everyone else?
That is one option, but it makes school a sad and isolating experience. Also, other people’s children’s ability to access free Twix bars during school hours is not compelling to me.
He’s going to be left out for his whole life, shouldn’t he learn to deal with that now?
Good point, but he’s getting plenty of experience being left out every time we go anywhere ever.
Do you really think teachers should be expected to follow school rules?
I’m not sure. Yes?
Is it really reasonable for a parent to anticipate that a 504 plan would be followed, when a teacher really, really wants to not acknowledge that she’s going to serve a sheet cake the size of a card table?
Remains to be seen.
What if she is really nice and is about to retire?
What if it’s just, like, mini packets of chips she keeps in her supply closet to share on a whim?
I’d still want to know in advance.
What if it’s all gluten free?
Still need to know because insulin.
I am an education lawyer and think we can turn your situation into cash money. How shall we divvy it up?
You can keep it all. I just want to stop thinking about this.