Student Excluded From School Party Because of Allergy

An elementary school student is waiting to find out whether he'll be allowed to attend his class holiday party, or will be excluded because of his food allergy.

The kindergarten student, Dustin Payne, is allergic to eggs. As a result, he's rarely able to eat foods served at school. His class has an upcoming Christmas party, and the menu at the morning party includes breakfast casseroles and donuts.

His mom says school officials told her that Dustin could bring his own food and sit by himself at a table. Otherwise, he would need to skip the meal portion of the party and only attend the second half. She explained " They told me the best thing is to either bring him 45 minutes later to school that day or bring him his own snack and he could sit at a separate table."

This isn't the first time Dustin has been excluded because of his allergy. According to his mother, he was also left out during the class Halloween party. Dustin and his mom sat by themselves at a table, watching as the other students made s'mores, which Dustin couldn't eat because the graham crackers contained egg.

With the upcoming holiday party, Dustin's mom asked whether the party could be held before the meal, so Dustin could leave and not feel like he'd just missed out on the fun. "I want him to feel normal and not be excluded because of something he can’t control," she said. However, Dustin's teacher responded by email to say "We will need to continue the day as planned... Please just plan to bring Dustin a little later — around 8:45."

The school principal, Rita Downs, says she's been in contact with Payne about changing the planned menu. "We’re trying everything we can do to find a compromise. We have been in contact with the mother, trying to help her" she explained. "We would never isolate or mistreat a child," Downs said.

District Officials Get Involved

After Payne complained to school district officials, the district's director of child nutrition reports that "We’ve given the principal of the school and the teacher several options so the child won’t feel excluded." However, she admits, "I don’t have any authority over what happens in the classroom. I’ve made several recommendations. They are ultimately the ones who are able to make that decision."

There is still no decision about whether the party plans will change to allow Dustin to participate. For now, he complains, "I feel bad. I can’t have what they’re eating."

Source: Hattiesburg American

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